Just Adopt

Your Family Can Change the World


Susan tallis picWelcome to JustAdopt.net,

JustAdopt is a non-profit to raise awareness about the devastating circumstances of the world’s 150-200 million unparented children, and to promote adoption — both domestic and international — as an important solution for these kids.  I  lay out the tragedies, challenges,  and possibilities as I see them. The tragedy lies in the millions  of children who live without the care and protection of parents, and the high percentage of suicide, mental illness, crime and prostitution that plagues them . The challenges lie in overcoming the domestic and international policies that actively deny children the families they need. And the possibilities — for reform that will lead to families for children — lie in education and action. This website lays out my perspective and provides links to help you understand the situation and find ways to take action.

I am a rabbi and live with my husband, Yosef, and our five children in Jerusalem. Two of our kids are adopted.  I knew I wanted to adopt  when I was still a kid. It was so obvious in my mind that I never discussed it with Yosef — it was simply the plan. “Should we adopt before we have biological kids?” I asked. Or, “Maybe we should just adopt. It’s silly to make new kids when there are so many already here who need us.” My great fortune was that he happily went along with it.  In any case, real conversations were unnecessary because Yosef and I are both instinctive in the way we make decisions. We have never once made a pro and con list.

The summer before our wedding, in 1992, I brought Yosef to a meeting of prospective adoptive parents sponsored by Washington, DC, social services. The paperwork we got that night stayed in my backpack for years, through the births of our two older daughters (turns out that the night of the meeting I was pregnant, I just didn’t know it yet). I kept the papers way past their expiration dates, way past the years we lived in D.C.. They were like an identity card. Not of my name and address, but of something more real, more essentially me. 

One Chanuka when the girls were five and three, we sang songs in the light of the candles, and  it felt like there was so much joy and love that our family of four couldn’t contain it all. (Note: it was a MOMENT, much unlike the day-to-day Get In The Car NOW, Where Are Your Shoes, and Is That Glue You’re Pouring on Her Head?) “It’s time,” I said to Yosef. Within a year I brought nine-month-old Adar home from Ethiopia. And, as impulsively as we’d done everything else, when Adar was four Ashira was born and then, when she was two, four-year-old Zamir joined us from Ethiopia. Our family was, finally, complete.


Because of adoption, all five of our children understand that they are part of a big, complicated world. That they are complicit in it and meant to take responsibility for it. In the words of our rabbis, Lo alecha ha’mlacha ligmor, v’lo at a ben chorin l’hibatel mimena — It’s not upon you to complete the task of repairing the world, but neither are you free to desist from it. 

Despite the obvious Jewy-ness of, well, me, this is  a website for everyone.  Being Jewish offers the metaphors and ideas with which I shape my life. But I have no need to loop you into my meshugas. If you are Jewish, and especially a rabbi, great — I have some extra resources to offer you.  But the bottom line is not God or religion, it’s the well-being of the most vulnerable people on the planet — children without parents to raise and love and nurture them.

And now — chutzpah! — here I am encouraging you to do one or more of the following things:

Adopt. At least think about it. Children need parents. And you can be that person who brings love into a child’s life, allows her to become fully human, safe and sound, in a FAMILY. If you are already a parent of birth kids, look at it this way: you’re already driving carpool, making lunches, doing rounds of lullabies and good night stories — you can add another kid to the mix without changing the structure of your life. You don’t run half a dishwasher, do you? You can continue more or less as you are, while literally saving a child’s life. It will mean a world of wonderful difference to your new child. And to you. And to your other kids. 

Really, what’s one more?

Learn. Educate yourself on the reality of children without parents in the US and internationally. The problem is huge, children are suffering immensely, and the people meant to protect the children are, too often, sacrificing them on the altars of political and social principles. 

Act. Hold the US government and international forces accountable for the immense suffering of children and demand change. Educate the people in your communities about the realities of unparented children.

In this website I have laid out the basics of the above, with links to the adoption agencies and activist organizations doing the real work. I have also tempted you with the stories of adoptive families, starting with our own.

Join my family, and millions of others, on this beautiful journey. For this rabbi, raising my children taught me more about God than any holy text, holiday, or ritual ever could.

I look forward to hearing from you.