Rabbi Bruk with his wife Chavie and their two daughters.
Growing up, I enjoyed over one hundred first cousins, and loved our hectic family gatherings. Jewish tradition encourages having children, many children. The first commandment of the Torah (Bible) is "Be fruitful and multiply." We consider every child to be of infinite value and a source of immense blessings. Having more than one or two children has its burdensome challenges, but we are taught that it's absolutely worth it.
On March 22, 2006, I stood under the gorgeous Texas sky, mere moments before placing the ring on my beautiful bride Chavie's finger, and I was dreaming. With my eyes closed and my thoughts heavenbound, I prayed and hoped that we too would merit G‑d's blessings and—like our friends and almost every other young Orthodox Jewish couple—together raise our very own family, a home in which for the next twenty years dirty diapers, crying, and of course lots of smiles is the way of life.
From a medical standpoint it would be impossible for us to bear children
Evidently, it's not always so simple.
After consulting with world-renowned infertility specialists, and after various medical procedures, we were informed in June of 2008 that from a medical standpoint it would be impossible for us to bear children. While the news was devastating, we remained strong and—guided by the teaching of our mentor Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, of blessed memory—were determined to turn this unfortunate situation into a blessing.
If one hasn't experienced adoption, it's hard to appreciate the gift that it is. It's a heavenly experience, where one feels G‑d's guidance along every step of the way.
On Tuesday, November 10, 2009, our first angel, Chaya, came into our life. She was born in Russia, nine weeks premature; we met her in New Jersey, embraced her, and haven't stopped smiling since. Less than one year later, on October 3, 2010, we welcomed our second baby, Zeesy—born in the U.S.A.—who has added even more joy to our life. Their love for each other is overflowing, despite the occasional fight over a toy; they share a bedroom, and really can't get enough of each other.
As a rabbi who believes in the absolute truth of the Torah, it's this ancient wisdom that gives me insight regarding all matters of life, including adoption. Less is more, and the few tidbits shared by the Torah regarding adoption are extremely powerful and inspirational.
Moses and Esther are two figures in the Torah who were adopted. In 1393 BCE, when the wicked Pharaoh, king of the Egyptian empire, decreed that all Jewish male babies are to be drowned in the Nile River, his very own daughter Bityah found a hidden newborn Jewish boy. She rescued him, adopted him, raised him in Pharaoh's palace, and even named him Moshe (Moses)! Similarly, in the book of Esther, we read about Mordechai adopting his young cousin Esther in 402 BCE, raising her, caring for her—and eventually she goes on to become the queen of Persia, who saved the day in the miraculous story of Purim.
While my original dream only included the biological option for family building, G‑d's ways are mysterious and vast
So, while my original dream only included the biological option for family building, G‑d's ways are mysterious and vast. G‑d has a plan for every couple: for biological parents it includes birth pangs, hormonal changes and physical recovery, and for adoptive parents it's the test of patience, the worry of the unknown and the drastic emotional roller coaster. Most couples are given G‑d's natural blessings; it's only certain ones whom G‑d gifts with the even loftier, perhaps supernatural blessing of adoption.
Yes, Chavie and I still hope and pray every day for medical advancements that will gift us with biological children; why not try that avenue as well? But it takes a lot more than DNA to raise a beautiful family. Chavie and I know full well that adoption has its rough moments, but it's a unique gift, saved for only a select few, who I believe are handpicked by G‑d for this special task.
Chaya and Zeesy bring us joy and blessing 24/7, and we thank G‑d every day not only for bringing them to us, but for doing so with miracles upon miracles.
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