I’ve resisted writing about celebrities and their adoption of foreign children up to this point because I really do believe that an orphan is better off with *a* parent than *no* parents at all. And up until now, those who are in the spotlight have actually adopted *orphans*.
Until now, that is.
The reports of Madonna adopting a child from Malawi have me doing a slow-burn. Initially, I thought it was similar to Angelina Jolie’s adoptions, but then the reports came back of this Malawi boy having a father. Hmmm. Let’s check the dictionary for a moment, eh? Orphan is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as “a child whose parents are dead.” And yet this boy had a father and grandmother who were caring for him and reportedly doing a good job. Yes, the boy lost his mother in childbirth, but the accepted definition of orphan is one who has lost both parents, not just a mother.
If you expanded the definition to consider what Madonna did (adopt a child who was not parent-less), then anyone whose mother died during their lifetime would be an orphan. And yet I’ll be willing to wager that these children and adults don’t consider themselves orphaned, because they have a surviving parent.
So why does this put a burr under my saddle? I am an adoptive-mom-to-be and although my heart is large and my compassion is stirred often, I would never consider adopting a child who has a built-in family and support system. The Malawi-boy’s grandmother is reportedly up in arms about losing her grandson. And I don’t consider the domestic-adoption system suspect in this situation; in nearly all of the cases of voluntary relinquishment, the child is unable to be cared for and if there were family members willing to care for the child, there wouldn’t be a non-familial-adoption in the first place.
What does this mean for me? Not much–but I think it’s casting a long and dark shadow on adoptive-parents…or at least, it could do that. Adoption is a gift–not only for the child who is being brought in to a family, but for the adoptive-family. It’s also a way for us to build our family and share the love we have in our hearts. But for Madonna (or anyone else) to adopt a child that isn’t technically “adoptable” or an orphan is simply publically gratifying one’s need for publicity and showing off one’s “generosity” to the area/nation in question. I have to wonder if Mark and I tried something like this and didn’t have a $3,000,000 donation for the country if we’d be turned away with a laugh. I deeply suspect it would be so..