I was going to just let this one go and not post about it here because I have already said my peace on a certain Yahoo adoption group. Then I came to work this morning, and the second person I saw said, “Hey! I thought about you this weekend when I saw that thing about Madonna’s adoption on the news!”
So, here goes.
Ethica, a group that advocates for ethical adoption, says the following:
Ethica believes that intercountry adoption is a viable option for orphans around the world if the following steps are taken:
1. The child is a true orphan with no family (including appropriate extended family)
2. The child cannot find appropriate, permanent, in-country care in a family-like setting
3. There is an established system for intercountry adoption in the country of origin.
I also believe that these are the standards that should guide international adoption. With this in mind, I have read LOTS of stories about Madonna’s Malawian adoption over the past week or so, and I think the judge made the right decision when she denied it. As I see it, there are three big problems with this adoption:
- Madonna was trying to circumvent Malawi law that requires non-nationals to reside in Malawi for at least 18 months before they can adopt Malawian children. For some reason, this requirement was waived when she adopted her son, David Banda, but this time the judge refused to do so. If Madonnna is so interested in adopting a child from another country, why doesn’t she pick a country where it IS LEGAL? And why did Malawi make this special exception for Madonna the first time? It would be ignorant to say that it has nothing to do with her money or her status, and money and status should not factor into an ETHICAL adoption.
- The child Madonna is trying to adopt, four-year-old “Mercy” James, is not an orphan. Her mother died when she was an infant. Her father is alive, but has not been involved. Reporters yesterday, however, said that they have found him. If a reporter can find him, why couldn’t the Malawian government or the orphanage find him so that he could consent to the adoption? Kind of makes it look like they never really looked that hard, huh? In the meantime, she has a grandmother and an uncle that have visited her in the orphanage. The grandmother does NOT want Mercy adopted internationally. She says that she only placed the child there for temporary care, and plans to take custody of the child again when she is able. She says that she has been approached about the adoption three times and that she has SAID NO THREE TIMES. When it appeared that the adoption would proceed anyway, she wanted to fight for Mercy in court, but did not have the money to hire a lawyer. Why is Madonna so insistent on adopting THIS child? If she is interested in adopting an orphan, why doesn’t she try to adopt a child who REALLY IS an orphan?
- There are news reports that say children were lined up at the orphanage for Madonna to choose from. What the hell!? It’s not like she was picking a designer handbag: “Oh, that one’s cute! I want that one!” It would have been much more appropriate for the Malawaian government to find a child who was eligible for adoption (one who was an ACTUAL orphan or one whose parents consented to an international adoption) and refer that child to Madonna. Adoption is supposed to be about finding families for children, not finding children for families.
Of course there will be an appeal, and I’m afraid that Madonna will win it. Instead though, I would love to hear that Madonna put $2500 (what she might pay for a handbag) in a trust account for Mercy’s care. That’s the amount of money it would take for Mercy’s father or grandmother to feed, care for, and educate Mercy very comfortably (by Malawian standards) for the next 14 years. But I won’t hold my breath.
I know this is kind of a downer post, so I thought I would end with a link to a funny video. I have been a loyal Saturday Night Live watcher most of my life. Even during the periods when it hasn’t been so great, I’ve held on. I think I’ve stayed loyal because one of the few memories I have of my dad is watching SNL with him it on the weekends I spent with him. I didn’t even understand the jokes at the time, but I thought it was pretty cool that I got to stay up late. (And he also made me banana splits at midnight!) Anyway, I think Saturday Night Live knocked it out of the park with this Angelina Jolie vs. Madonna “adoption face-off.”