Israeli court (illustrative)
Israeli court (illustrative) Flash 90

The biological siblings of an Israeli man who was adopted as an infant have been ordered to pay 400,000 in damages for publicly revealing the adoption. An Israeli NGO has been ordered to pay as well.

The man in question was given up for adoption as a baby. He grew up with a hareidi-religious family. While he was aware that he had been adopted, he did not tell anyone that he was not his parents’ biological child.

When he turned 18 he had the option of looking at his file and finding his biological family, but chose not to do so.

However, his biological siblings had wondered for years what had happened to their brother, and had already managed to track him down. The siblings believed that their parents had been misled into approving the adoption.

They waited until he turned 18, hoping he would seek his biological family, but when he did not, they began making increasingly public attempts to meet him.

The boldest such attempt occurred when the young man was 19. One of his biological brothers showed up unannounced in his yeshiva. The brother, who is not religious, drew attention with his appearance.

“I was so dizzy, I almost fainted,” the adopted brother testified. “I was there with friends, and suddenly something like this… My biggest secret suddenly blew open.”

The adopted brother finally agreed to a single meeting with his family of origin, but was hurt by statements his relatives made during their meeting, and decided not to meet with them again. The Welfare Ministry got involved, with workers attempting to convince the family to leave the young man alone.

However, their efforts were in vain. Instead of leaving the young man alone, a female relative decided to up the stakes with an “article” in which the family shared its side of the story, and included the adopted man’s full name and picture. She published the story on a website run by an NGO for divorced parents’ rights.

In the wake of the events, the adopted brother filed a lawsuit against his relatives for violating adoption law, violating his privacy, and slandering him and his parents with the dishonest story that had been published. He argued that among other things, a shidduch (suggested match) had fallen through due to the slander.

A court found in his favor, and ordered his relatives to pay him a total of 250,000 shekels, and to pay an additional 150,000 shekels to his adoptive parents. The NGO that published the family’s story was ordered to pay 100,000 shekels to the young man whose identity was exposed, and 50,000 shekels to his adoptive parents.