(Originally published at The Jewish Journal

Author Claude Knobler talks to Lori Gottlieb about bringing an African 5-year-old into a neurotic Jewish family more than a decade ago, an experience he recounts in his recently released “.” 

The author Claude Knobler with his wife, Mary, and their children, Nati (lower left), Clay and Grace. Photo courtesy of Claude Knobler

Lori Gottlieb: You and your wife were raising two biological kids — 7-year-old Clay and 5-year-old Grace — and had no intention of expanding your family. Then you adopted a 5-year-old boy named Nati from Ethiopia after one of his parents died of AIDS and the other became too sick from AIDS to care for him. What led to that decision?

Claude Knobler: I had never thought about adopting, but one day I read an article in the Sunday paper about an orphanage in Ethiopia. I took the article to my wife and said, “You know, we should consider doing something.” The embarrassing truth is that I thought she’d say “no” and that I’d get credit for wanting to do this very humanitarian thing without actually having to do anything. But she said “yes,” and so, we were off.

It was kind of an odd whim, but it’s also true that my mother was a survivor, that she’d been hidden in a Catholic orphanage in Belgium during World War II and then adopted by an aunt after her own parents had been killed in the Holocaust. And I grew up knowing that the world depended on the idea that people who can help other people have an obligation to do that in some way. My mother would never in a million years have suggested I adopt a child from Africa, but in a roundabout way, it was still her idea. So, like all nice Jewish boys, I’m doing exactly what my mother told me to do, even though she never actually told me to do it.

LG: A lot of parents worry about their children, but you had added worries related to bringing an African child grieving the loss of his biological parents into a Jewish-American family in Los Angeles. What were you most worried about?

CK: One of the most shocking things I learned as Nati’s father was that I was really, really bad at worrying. Which is strange, because I get a lot of practice. Continue reading

KCRW Podcast with Madeleine Brand

listenParenting: It’s not just for parents anymore. We live in a time when the ins and outs of child-rearing have become a cultural obsession: Even those without kids can’t escape the conversation. But author Claude Knobler thinks we should all back off. He talks about his new book, which lays out his theory.

Claude Knobler, Author of “More Love, Less Panic: 7 Lessons I Learned About Life, Love, and Parenting After We Adopted Our Son from Ethiopia.”

Claude Knobler at World Wide Orphans

TV personality Katie Couric introduces author Claude Knobler (More Love-Less Panic: 7 Lessons About Life, Love and Parenting I Learned After We Adopted Our Son From Ethiopia) as he introduces his wife, Mary Knobler at the WWO- World Wide Orphans Gala in New York City. Mary was presented with the Orphan Ranger Award for her work in helping children around the globe by Dr. Jane Aronson, WWO’s founder.

The Washington Post

washingtonpost (Originally published at the Washington Post)
December 18, 2014 | What I remember most about the day I asked a black friend how to warn my son about the police was the way he stumbled forward out of his chair and pointed his finger at me, making sure I heard each and every word he had to say.

My wife and I had adopted our son, Nati, from Ethiopia nearly 10 years before, so we weren’t new to the issues facing a mixed-race family. We had encountered very little in the way of overt racism in our liberal Southern California community. Yes, once, in a checkout line, a cashier had looked at my three children — two white, one not — and asked whether they were all mine. When I said they were, he helpfully informed me “one of them is black,” as if that might have escaped my notice.

Still, having spent the first five years of his life in Africa and the next 10 attending a touchy-feely, warm and fuzzy developmental school that holds multicultural awareness days, Nati has, by and large, avoided the systematic racism and harassment that have so rightly occupied our national discussion of late. Until, that is, push came to shove. Literally.  Continue reading

Meet Later Dad: Claude Knobler


NAME: Claude Knobler
AGE: 49
RESIDENCE:  Los Angeles, CA
CHILDRENS NAMES/AGES:  Clay 18.  Grace 16.  Nati 16.
(Note: Claude was 39 when they adopted Nati, his third child.)

I am the author of More Love, Less Panic: 7 Lessons I Learned About Life, Love, and Parenting After We Adopted Our Son from Ethiopia.  

What was your road to parenthood like?  My first two kids came along in a fairly traditional way.  I’d always thought I’d have kids, ‘some day.’  Then, one day, my wife told me that she wanted to have kids, and that ‘some day’ had more or less arrived.  I’m grateful to her for nudging me along because otherwise, like a lot of guys, I think I might have just waited and waited and waited some more.

Our third child, Nati, was more my idea…in a way.  I read a magazine article about the many children in Ethiopia who’d been orphaned because of the AIDS crisis.  I suggested that my wife read the article and that we consider adoption, but, honestly, I was sure we never really would.  When she read the article and said, ‘you know, actually, we could adopt a kid from there,’ I was stunned.  Not too long after reading that article, I was flying home from Ethiopia with a five-year-old boy who was now my son. Continue reading

How My Mother’s Lessons of the Holocaust Inspired Me to Adopt My Son


I was 7 years old the first time my mother told me that the fate of occupied Europe was in my hands. I remember it clearly. My mother sat me down and explained to me that if, when I grew up, I failed to marry a Jewish girl and raise Jewish children, it would mean that Hitler won. I, in turn, explained to my mother that Hitler had already lost the war, and also that girls were gross and that I had no intention of getting married to anyone ever. Continue reading

Understanding Love

035-claude-knoblerBy Claude Knobler ()

It was late in the afternoon, we were stuck in traffic, and my new son and I were both wishing I’d taken Amharic in high school instead of Spanish.

Amharic is a language spoken in Ethiopia, the country where my son Nati was born. Because he came here when he was 5 not speaking any English, I’m often asked how Nati, now 6, and I communicate. Usually, I joke that my wife, Mary, and I just speak to him loudly and slowly. When people say they really want to know how we deal with the language barrier, I give the true answer: We just speak to him loudly and slowly.Continue reading

Excerpt from ‘Carried in Our Hearts: The Gift of Adoption’


April 29, 2013, by at Original Article appeared at

It was a lot easier before my son learned to speak English.

My wife, Mary, and I adopted Nati from Ethiopia when he was five years old. He spoke no English and we spoke only three words of Amharic, the language of most Ethiopians. When I flew with him from the orphanage in Ethiopia back to our home in Los Angeles, he was astonished not only by the airplane but by the escalator in the airport; most everything was new to him. Here are the three words of Amharic I knew. Shent, which means “pee.” Baca, which means, “enough.” Ishi, which means, “it’s okay.” Put them in any order you like and it’s still not much of a conversation. Continue reading