The Cohen kids know firsthand about foster care. All of them were adopted from foster care homes.
Foster care is assumed to be a temporary arrangement. The goal is to reunite a child with his or her birth parents. In contrast, adoption is a permanent legal arrangement. The birth parents voluntarily give up their parental rights.
Hayim initially became a licensed foster care parent. From there, he chose to become an adoptive parent.
“I daven Shemoneh Esreh (the Amidah) three times a day,” he told the JHV. “I’ve always felt especially touched by the widows and orphans part of the prayer. We read about the orphans in Russia in our Hasidic books. I have children who became orphans when their parents died in a car accident. Many circumstances brought these kids into the foster care system.
“All my kids were Jewish when I adopted them.”
Jewish kids in foster care? This, one does not expect.
Although no precise figures are available, the Fort Lauderdale-based nonprofit Jewish Adoption and Family Care Options (JAFCO) claims they have helped place hundreds of Jewish kids in foster care and adoptive homes.
The inside of the Cohen home in the Fondren Southwest neighborhood doesn’t look any different from the interiors of many of their neighbors. In the center of the living room is a long dining room table where a minimum of 10 people can sit for Shabbos meals. There are also numerous shelves of Hebrew books and a large portrait the Rebbe on the wall. The kitchen is clean and ordered.