Unfortunately, we will all be faced with dealing with death at some point in our lives, because death is part of our journey. We just had a death in our family today and although it’s a hard time all around, we have a great family and that’s really all that matters in the end.
In Judaism, a child that is legally adopted, converted where appropriate and being raised in your household is considered your child. No ifs ands or buts. And for life-cycle events in the Jewish religion, the child you adopted will always be considered part of the family.
When a boy (or girl in some circles) is called up to the Torah to read for his Bar (or Bat) Mitzvah portion – and any time thereafter – he (or she) is called as So-and-so son/ daughter of name-of-parents. And maybe it seems to be a no-brainer to many that an adopted child would be called by the name of his/ her adopted parents in an official religious ceremony, but to me I’ve always thought it to be an affirmation of the fact that we are a ‘real’ family.
Additionally, an adopted child is obligated in the laws of death and mourning in the case of a loss of a close relative. A close relative is defined as spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, son or daughter. Of course, other family members are affected and participate in the funeral and mourning period, but only immediate family members recite the kaddish – the traditional mourners’ prayer – and are obligated by the laws of mourning. Whether or not an adopted child should observe the Jewish traditions for the loss of a biological family member is a good question, and G-d forbid that case should come up, you should contact your local rabbinic authority.
For an overview of the laws of Death and Mourning from various Jewish perspectives, check out this good link. May we only share in joyous occasions.