Can Amish Adopt? The Process, Adjustments, & More

The Amish are known to be highly family-oriented. For them, no family ever seems to be “too large” Considering the unique Amish lifestyle and beliefs, however, many non-Amish people wonder what happens if an Amish couple can’t have children naturally. Can they adopt children?

The Amish people, especially those unable to have a child naturally, can adopt or foster both Amish and non-Amish children. There are no rules from their church leaders against adopting children, including whom they can and can’t adopt.

If you are curious to know how the process works, this article will explain everything you need to know about it.

How the Amish Adopt Children

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Amish families are commonly large for three significant reasons. Inside their community, children are treated as blessings from God – more children, more blessings.

Secondly, the Amish church forbids birth control and abortion. Lastly, Amish women marry and start having kids at a very young age. In Amish communities, being an Amish mom is something to be proud of.

A 300-year-old religious community in Amish America consisting of large families may put a bit of pressure on a childless couple’s life. Fortunately, a childless Amish couple can go to some agencies in their areas to start an adoption process.

In some rare cases, adoptions happen when tragedies strike. In 2011 when a 30-year-old Amish uncle and aunt from Ohio had to sell a large home they built to move to Jasper, and adopt 12 Amish children after their parents died in a road accident in New York.

Since they were the only immediate family members of the deceased who have no other children, they were the only ones who are capable of taking this kind of huge responsibility. A similar incident happened in Indiana in the 1980s, when 11 Amish children were adopted by an Amish couple because their parents died in a car wreck.

Can Amish Adopt Non-Amish Children?

The Amish foster and adopt children from various countries and races. If the kids are adopted, not fostered, they will raise them Amish. They will work hard to teach them how to be full-fledged Amish children.

Since the Amish take the bible literally, they enormously respect how beautifully God painted the picture of adoption, “But Ye have received the spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba Father.” – Romans 8:15

Sometimes, newly-adopted older children who are already exposed to the modern world face difficulties adjusting to an Amish home. From watching television to quilting or doing outdoor activities with other kids, or playing board games with family, this is becoming a significant step for them.

Children from African-American, Asian, or Hispanic races face challenges in accepting their differences while growing up in a new community. Mostly, these young people feel isolated.

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Since one of the core values of the Amish culture is “family” their acceptance and color-blind love for their new children would resolve any insecurity or fear of rejection that adoptees usually feel.

When an Amish family adopts a non-Amish child, he will be treated like their own. Therefore, the child will live by the family and their church’s faith and lifestyle. The same applies to how they dress, which school to go to when they reach a certain age, etc.

To adopt children is both a privilege and a responsibility for the Amish. Since the Amish are religious, they believe that the most incredible privilege of adoption is the privilege of guiding a kid to trust in God. At the same time, they must fulfill their obligation to pass on their wisdom from the Old Order Amish to their children.

The Amish and Foster Care

According to Carol Award Winner Suzanne Woods Fisher, a pastor in Texas asked his congregation years ago, “Who will stand with me to defend, care, and support abused, abandon, and neglected children in our community?”

Surprisingly, many people volunteered, and as a result, their area has more than enough licensed foster families to help fulfill the growing number of children in the foster care system.

She eventually fictionalized this story in her book Stitches in Time. In her book, a reformed young law offender and now deacon of a church inside the world’s largest Amish community in Pennsylvania posed a challenge in his church to empty the foster care system in Lancaster County. While some people said “no” those who said “yes” had their lives changed forever.

This narrative is not far from what’s happening in reality inside many Amish communities. Many children from the English world who are in the foster care system are getting cared for by Amish families, many from the New Order Amish. They believe that every foster child that comes into their lives is God’s will. 

The Amish live to care for their own – or that’s what most English people think. It may come as a surprise that their love isn’t only for Amish children, but also for those from the outside world with needs that their biological parents can not fulfill.

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Many of these foster kids from the modern world are placed in the system due to various heartbreaking stories. They may be victims of abuse, abandonment, or neglect.

Some infants cared for by Amish foster parents suffer from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and neonatal abstinence syndrome. The parents of these kids are usually incarcerated, institutionalized, or no longer permitted by law to stay with them.

How Do Foster Children Adjust to The Amish Lifestyle?

The length of a foster child’s stay with his foster parents depends on his needs and the biological parents’ participation (if applicable) in the program. A caseworker works with the foster parents to identify and assess the situation to properly determine the child’s placement goals. 

In the meantime, the Amish parents vow to love and care for them as much as they can since they believe that what they do for these children is for the children’s sake, not theirs.

Even if a foster kid isn’t born Amish, they will still dress him as one of theirs as long as the child stays with them except for when they have to visit their biological parents. They also have special gatherings inside their community where foster and adoptive parents meet. The children would wear Amish clothes in specific colors to quickly identify the foster from the adopted ones.

Foster parents take their foster kids to public schools outside their community. While this can be inconvenient for them since they usually take Amish children to Amish schools, this is just one of the great lengths they’re willing to go to for these kids.

Since the child’s placement in a few months isn’t set in stone, taking him to an Amish school may be seen as crossing the line. They know and respect their boundaries as foster parents.

An Amish school convinces children to reject technology and everything the modern world has to offer, makes them believe that only the bible reveals the truth, and persuades them to stay within the community. In addition, even though Science is taught in these schools, despite what many believe, they only select texts or lessons that will not contradict their church teaching. 

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This changes when a child is legally adopted. No matter where in the outside world he came from, an adopted child should learn how to live the Amish way as early as possible by going to an Amish school. Here, he will learn everything he needs to blend in with his new family and community.

In cases where the law requires visitations, they willingly accompany their foster kids to their biological parents. Most of the time, they work together for the child’s welfare. When the time comes that the child has to return to his parents, they will oblige even though it saddens them because they understand that everything happening is the will of God.

Conclusion

Not all mothers are built the same. Some can have as many babies as they want, while some are mothers by heart and can only have children through adoption. For the latter, it can be a long and challenging journey.

The life goal of being a mother is universal. It may not apply to all women today, but for a regular Amish girl living in a community where having a family is one of the cores of their culture, this is quite certain. Fortunately for the Amish communities, adopting children is allowed by their church.

While many of us have heard stories about how Amish people like to live independently and don’t care about other people outside their communities, it’s time to rethink.

Most people from the outside only focus on the simple Amish lifestyle with their little buggies and no-technology homes. However, many of us do not know that these “simple people” have much more to offer to children with needs, whether these children are Amish or Non-Amish.

Their helping hands can be in the form of adoption or fostering children from different parts of the world or all walks of life. Either way, it’s an all-win fulfillment for them – their faith, their communities, or their dream of becoming a parent.

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