Yesterday I was home with my kids, working on an art project, with “The View” on in the background. It was “Hot Topics” time, and Madonna’s adoption from Malawi was the topic. As an adoptive parent myself, with a child from Africa, I’m usually interested in hearing other’s perceptions of celebrities adopting–mainly because people have a lot easier time talking smack about celebrities than they do when talking about regular folks. The discussion started with the usual catch phrases–
“She should just send money to the orphanage and family.”
Really? Is it better for a child to sit in an orphanage, parentless for the rest of their life when someone is ready, willing and able to adopt? Would a family have made the heart wrenching decision to place their child for adoption if there was another way to keep and support that child? Children in orphanages are orphaned–whether they have parents living or not. Their parents couldn’t take care of them for some reason, nor could their extended family or neighbors. No child living in an orphanage is temporarily there–they are there until they are adopted, or until they age out of the orphanage system. I’m not sure how old kids “age out” in Malawi, but in Ethiopia, in many of the orphanages, the kids “age out” at 13. 13! Were you capable of raising yourself at 13? I certainly was not. Madonna sending money to feed, clothe and educate a child until age 13 is not better than that child growing up in a loving family, in my opinion. And how do they know she isn’t sending money to support the children left behind? Adoptive parents–in my experience–are the most supportive of children remaining in care. I’m sure Madonna is using her zillions to help, just like those of us who founded EOR are using our time and money to help the orphans remaining in Ethiopia.
“She should just adopt from the US.”
How do you know she didn’t consider this? I know I did, as did every other adoptive parent I know. Some adopted domestically before they adopted internationally, some decided it wasn’t right for their family at all. I personally decided against it because of the uncertainty involved in the process–in the US adoptions are often not complete until 6 months after the child is home with you–which means the child could be returned to their birth parents at any point during that time period, if the birth parents changed their mind. My dad was adopted domestically and while I’m certainly happy he found a family with my grandparents, I knew that for my family, I could not love a child for 6 months as my own, then have them taken away from me. I wanted the permanency international adoption could offer. Maybe Madonna wanted the same.
The first two statements are pretty common–they are usually the first reactions when someone adopts abroad and someone else doesn’t agree with that decision. Most of us adoptive parents are used to those statements. It was the next rant that made my blood boil–
“She adopted abroad because there are less restrictions.”
“There isn’t as much criteria when you adopt abroad.”
“She’d have a really hard time adopting an African American child in the US because she’s white.”
“The US doesn’t want to give kids to Looney Tunes.”
“They just give kids away in other countries.”
Oh, really? So the year and a half it took me to get my daughter home–the homestudy prepared by a social worker who met with us over the course of 3 months (and for for the year after our daughter was home), the binder full of documents for our dossier–including everything from extensive physicals, to financial statements to letters of recommendation, the approvals from the US government, the 24 hours of parenting classes, the review board at the orphanage–all that stuff was easy? Less restrictions? We just hopped on a plane and picked out a kid in the orphanage, right? No. International adoption has the same requirements as domestic adoption–often times it has MORE requirements. You have two countries involved instead of one, and they both make you do a million different things to prove you’ll be a good parent–then they check up on you to make sure (we had 1 year of follow up visits from a social worker to meet the US requirements, and we’ll be reporting back to the Ethiopian government until our daughter is 18).
In my “View” the ladies should do some research–maybe Elisabeth could print some stuff from the internet. Madonna may not be my favorite person in the world, but it doesn’t mean she’s a horrible person for wanting to expand her family, for wanting to help a child who needs a family, and for wanting her son to have a sibling from his birth country. Adoption is not perfect, and it’s certainly not the answer to the orphan problem many countries face. I wish my daughter’s family had been able to raise her. I wish she was able to grow up in her country. I wish she hadn’t experienced the loss and hurt she did at such a young age. But she did. And if she hadn’t been adopted, she’d be living in an orphanage–and 10 years from now, she’d be on her own. And forgive me, ladies of The View, if I don’t think that’s OK.