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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

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She comes across as self-righteous and incredibly joyless, such a change from how she seemed twenty years ago. Celebrity has ruined her, I think.

International adoption may have its place in some situations. Certainly, as an alternative to female infanticide, it has much to recommend it, but I hate to see it used as a "solution" to poverty.

In one article I read, the father was quoted as saying he had planned to keep the baby in the orphanage only until he could remarry, but when he learned that a rich American wanted to adopt his child, he felt he owed it to the kid to let him have a better life elsewhere. If true, that is heartbreaking.

I think Intercountry adoption is a veritable minefield. I have met a number of very ethical individuals and couples who have been following this path with integrity and I admire them for what they are attempting to do. However, translocation of a vulnerable child removed from any surviving family and culture into another world, has got to have some impact on their psyche. You just hope it is a better outcome than their life in an orphanage.

But what bugs me most about celebrity adoption is they bypass this sytem of being vetted, doing projects on the childs culture, jumping through the hoops...to show they are commited and aware. One would think that celebrities are the least suitable parents and would probably not make it through the system that Australian adoptive parents to be have to navigate.

I don't necessarily criticize Madonna and Guy for intl adoption per se, or even for the presence of a living relative in the child's life. This is, reportedly, quite common for children in orphanages in developing countries -- the presence of living/semi-involved parents or extended-family relatives. There's no reason per se for celebrities to be more benevolent with their money than any other adoptive parents. Parents adopting from China, Russia, Guatamala, etc., all spend between 20 and 30 thousand US dollars -- that money could obviously improve the lives of children in their home countries. Why should adoptive parents, who are trying to build their families, be more responsible for international welfare than those of us who build our families through other means?

Of course, many adoptive parents do become activists for improving conditions in their children's birth/home countries, too.

My problem with Madonna and Guy is that no one seems to think they've followed adoption law. There's no evidence they followed adoption law in the UK -- where they would have needed to have their home studies, or at least registered the US as their permanent residence -- and clear evidence that they subverted the law in Malawi.

Malawi does not allow international adoption. There's no in-country adoption service to protect the interests of children, or protect human rights during the process. In the US, parents have to undergo extensive home study and secure certain pre-adoption finger-printed adoption approvals and visas from the State Department. The pre-adoption paperwork in the UK is reportedly even more complex. It's difficult -- if not impossible -- for me to understand how Madonna and Guy got around these requirements, given the ad hoc nature of the Malawi situation.

Throw in the reports that twelve separate children were located, from which Madonna and Guy were allowed to choose, and the whole thing just turns nasty.

It's icky.

I should have written that Malawi has no adoption service in-country looking out for international adoptees, or regulating the process, as is true in other countries. They do have a system for domestic adoption, which Madonna has apparently bought into for $US 3 Million. Lovely.

Exactly what you said, and what everyone else said.

Best post and comments thread on this so far.

An example of the one-track thinking of the infertile: Everyone around me seems to be thinking about the complex ethical dimensions of the issue and I can't get out of my head:So all I have to do is live in Malawi for eighteen months and I could adopt a child? Even without $3 million?

International adoption is fraught with ethical issues, but then, adoption period is fraught with ethical concerns. I've adopted internationally, so I do have a personal stake here.....while I can see the ethical complications inherent in transracial or transcultural adoptions, I don't think that Madonna's adoption is a good jumping off point for banning the process all together. That said, if every country could take care of its own children, that would be a very, very good thing.

Mostly I think what Jody said above is spot on: the apparent evasion of the British adoption law, coupled with what appears to be a lack of Malawian oversight (although I don't know much about the tribal customs mentioned in various news reports). How did the child even get into England if the legal processes there were not observed?

So I end up thinking the whole process is screwy.

On the picking-the-child part: I wonder whether that is a Malawian way of handling fostering/adoption? I have friends who adopted in Jordan (he is Jordanian, his wife is American, and they travelled together to Jordan to adopt). They visited two orphanages, I believe, and were showed several rooms full of children. It was hard, but it's what the Jordanian orphanage directors wanted to do.

Madonna already has children, let's not forget that.

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