Adopted Children – Parents’ Names

I was not raised by my biological parents and was adopted as a baby. For my Jewish name, am I considered the son of (“ben”) my biological parents or my adoptive ones? I’m very close to the latter and feel they are my true parents. Both sets of parents are Jewish.

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

It’s an interesting dilemma. Technically, your true parents are your biological ones. In fact, as the commentators explains, the Torah obligation to honor your parents is solely because they brought you into this world, even if they did nothing whatsoever for you beyond that (e.g. Sefer HaChinuch 33). Thus, when an adopted child is called to the Torah, he would be called up as the son of his biological father, and prayers offered on his behalf when he is ill would refer to his biological mother’s name.

For the Ketubah (marriage document), some have the custom that in addition to referring to the person’s biological father, the phrase “who was raised by so and so” is added. The reason for this is to remove any risk that the text of the Ketubah (which mentions a father other than the familiar one) would raise doubt about the person’s legitimacy.

All of the above is not to minimize the enormous merit of those who raise unfortunates in their home and the honor due to them by their adopted children. The Talmud states that one who raises an orphan in his home, it is as if he brought him into this world (Megillah 13a).

(Sources: Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 240:2, 21, Shevet HaLevi X 292, Igrot Moshe E.H. I 99.)

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