Fri, October 20, 2006


The debate continues over whether Madonna and her husband Guy Ritchie should be permitted to finalize their adoption of a 13-month-old boy who was in an orphanage in Malawi.

As a mother whose daughter was adopted internationally, I say, unless you’ve actually added to your family through adoption, you don’t have a right to be critical of her or anyone who has adopted a child, regardless of whether celebrity or commoner.

Can anyone really think that somebody would add a child to a family as a publicity stunt? From what I’ve been reading in the papers and on the blogosphere, apparently the answer is ‘yes.’ But, in my book, that’s some serious, over-the-top cynicism.

Please, feel free to criticize Madonna about a lot of other things, but you can bet that any family that has decided to go down the adoption road has not made that decision lightly. I have a hard time envisioning this conversation:

Madonna: Oh, Guy, I’m so bored, what with my international career, raising two children and writing books. Plus, I haven’t been in People magazine for weeks — I KNOW, let’s fly to Africa for the afternoon and adopt a baby!

Guy: Uh-OK, Madge. I’ll just reschedule my tee time.

There is no question that there are important issues that need to be addressed for any adoption, like making sure all the procedures were followed to ensure that a child is placed in a safe and loving home and preparing the parents for the ultimate issues that can and will arise for adoptees, such as keeping a transracially adopted child connected with their birth culture, addressing any attachment issues that can arise and answering their children’s questions about adoption as openly and honestly as possible.

No one ever accused Madonna (or any other person on the face of the planet other than maybe Michael Jackson) for having a bio child as a publicity stunt. You can bet if, at 48, she had turned up pregnant with her third child, the media would be celebrating her condition. So why excoriate her when the child is adopted?

Whether she should have chosen a child who had a living bio parent is a separate question in my book. The widowed father placed his son in an orphanage because he had two other children to care for, and was struggling to do that. Given the realities of life in Malawi, odds are he wasn’t coming back for his son anytime soon. But Madonna could have saved herself and her family a lot of media grief if she had chosen another child.

If Madonna can provide a loving home for this child, everyone should back off.

No parenting situation is perfect, bio or adoptive. But no matter what the ultimate issues are that arise for transracially adopted children, isn’t it better to be raised in a home with caring and loving parents rather than in an orphanage?

Do I have to answer that question?

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10 Responses to “MadonnaMom”

  1. MommyWithAttitude Says:

    Wow, every blog I go to is talking about this… except me, I’m always so out of it!

    I have mixed feelings, because I’m just not sure if we know the whole story, given that Madonna probably went to great lengths to try to keep this as private as possible. So I’m not sure what to make of it.

  2. Momish Says:

    I agree with you! I don’t see why anyone would criticize someone for wanting to adopt a child and offer them a loving household. Adopting isn’t a stunt, its a lifetime committment. I am sure, as a mother, Madonna is well aware of that.

  3. Mommy off the Record Says:

    I haven’t read up much on this, but I tend to agree with you that people shouldn’t assume that she is doing it for publicity. That seems like it would be pretty extreme to me as well.

  4. Paige Says:

    If Madonna wants to adopt this boy, that’s her business and the British press shouldn’t make hay out of this just because she tried to keep it private. It must have been a slow news week…

  5. CrankMama Says:

    I agree wholeheartedly.. I think the valid objections flow from the real adoption laws in Malawi. In a move to protect the Malawi culture, they’ve long made just such adoptions illegal. Whether or not we agree with the country’s laws, it does seem arrogant to ignore them and try and adopt a child anyway. Others before Madonna have tried and failed. If she succeeds, it WILL be because of her celebrity and money.

    There’s no question that this boy will be better off in a loving family. What isn’t so clear to me if we wnat to continue to send the message that Americans are completely insensitive to the rules laid out by other societies.

  6. vasilisa Says:

    Hi, I’m here via “her bad mother”.

    I completely agree with you. I think people often forget what kind of conditions these kids are coming from. I sincerely doubt that they would be better off starving in their orphanages than they are with parents like Madonna.

  7. mad muthas Says:

    i’d be much more comfortable with this if the little boy were being given a chance to join a less exalted household. from what i know of friends who have adopted from africa, there can be plenty of problems with adjustment anyway, without heaping on the extra pressure of vicarious celebrity and life in the public eye. i applaud madonna’s obvious compassion but, in this case, her celebrity, which has probably eased the bureaucracy of adoption, is the very element which should preclude her from taking this immense step. let’s hope the spotlight of media attention will have some positive spin-off for malawi and africa as a whole.

  8. mad muthas Says:

    do you think she can possibly have envisaged the storm that would rise up around her? i do feel sorry that she’s being savaged by our famously vile tabloid press. i can’t see this ending well now. i just hope that it will raise the profile of malawi enough that some meaningful aid will be channelled there.

  9. Lawyer Mama Says:

    I think I must be living in a black hole because I had no idea this was going on until I read about it on another blog and this one. Criticizing someone for adopting is completely inappropriate. Criticizing someone for flaunting the adoption laws in another country, that’s another matter. Now I’m off to go read up on it!

    And wow, you’ve even gotten a flamer in your comments!

  10. Nancy Says:

    I agree, I don’t know why people would think it’s just publicity. It doesn’t seem like Brad and Angelina got as much flack as Madonna has.

    I am happy for anyone who chooses to welcome a new child into their family through adoption. It’s a win-win situation for the child and the family in most cases.

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