Dear Vanity Fair, Stop Asking Stupid Questions about Adoption

Thu, June 26, 2008


Vanity Fair gets PunditMom’s new “Stupidest Question of the Month” award!

I only occasionally buy Vanity Fair, but I’m stocking up on some vacation reading and thought the the July issue would be good on the airplane.

Angelina Jolie of the full lips and even fuller tummy is on the cover of July’s Vanity Fair with an accompanying article about her motherhood, her children and the impending arrival of twins.

I know Angelina gets a bad rap from a lot of people about her various adoptions, but as a mother by adoption, I don’t have a problem with her or her how she’s chosen to create her family. She’s opened her heart to children who needed families and, as far as I can tell, has done a pretty good job, even with all the celebrity stuff they have to deal with.

Until her critics have adopted a child themselves, I say keep your words to yourselves.

As for the author of the article, Rich Cohen, well, I’m hoping there’s a special place in hell for him. No one who has a profile high enough to write for Vanity Fair ought to be asking this kind of question:

“I asked [Jolie whether] there is a special bond between a mother and a child she has carried as opposed to a child she has adopted.”

Say WHAT!?!?

Jolie dismissed that ridiculous notion out of hand. But when people like Cohen continue to advance the stereotype so infamously put out in the media by Rebecca Walker last year — that one cannot love an adopted child as much as one created from one’s own flesh and blood — it serves only one purpose, which is to diminish families that look different than most, families like mine.

Why is it that many people still feel that the bonds of blood are stronger and more lasting than any other? I can tell you from a lot of different experiences I’ve had in life, that just ain’t so.

I realize that without sensational, ridiculous questions like the one Cohen asked Jolie, Vanity Fair probably wouldn’t sell as many magazines. But as long as editors and publishers allow questions like his to appear in stories that feature adoptive families, the message that all our children will get is this — creating a family by adoption is second best and love for a biological child will trump the love for adopted children any day.

PunditGirl is already struggling with the idea of whether love is permanent. I don’t need anyone else, even a Vanity Fair writer, feeding that worry.

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19 Responses to “Dear Vanity Fair, Stop Asking Stupid Questions about Adoption”

  1. Maria Says:

    I have a biological child, and I get annoyed by the thought that families who adopt children cannot be “real” families or love those children as though they’re their biological offspring. It’s offensive to the sense of family many people experience. IMO, blood has nothing to do with family. I consider some of my closest friends family. The relationship developed and nurtured is what makes a family, IMO.

  2. Laura Says:

    can i say, “what an asshole”?
    seriously, questions and comments like that in the media irritate the hell out of me. i am also irritated when acquaintances will introduce my family and me by pointing out that one of our five children is adopted as if that piece of info is important in meeting us for the first time.

  3. heather.pnr Says:


    If the reporter had even asked about any difference in her bonding process between her adopted/non-adopted kids, I would’ve been okay with it. That’s a fair and even potentially interesting question. But his assumptions about the (in)validity of adoptive families were built right into his question.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    I didn’t realize I wrote this SV Moms Post more than a year ago

    Still drives me nuts

  5. DD Says:

    Knowing the intense scrutiny that is the Pitt/Jolie life, did he REALLY expect her to answer that any other way? His question, while certainly completely out of hand, was unoriginal at best.

    If Cohen was the best Vanity Fair could come up with to interview Angelina, then it’s no wonder they have to create interest in their magazine via the Cyrus fiasco.

  6. Michelle Says:

    This is so ridiculous. My dad is not biological, but he and my mom have been together since I was 4. My biological father is a real jerk, and I haven’t seen him since I was 7. My dad is my dad, plain and simple. I know he feels the same way. The idea that the love my dad and I share isn’t as valid because we aren’t biologically related makes me very upset. I am 32 now, and my biological father has never made an attempt to see or speak with me. That’s some great “biological” love. Jerk.

  7. Florinda Says:

    This bothers me not only on behalf of families by adoption, but also stepfamilies. My two stepchildren live with their father and me part-time – one way or another, we see each other at least every other day – and in the nearly three years we’ve all been together, we have absolutely become a family. Because their biological mother is very much around, I don’t expect to adopt my stepchildren and formalize the relationship – nor do I try to usurp her place – but the definition of “family” has evolved in so many directions. People need to get used to it.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    I’m not a fan of Angelina Jolie. Have you seen how many movies she’s in lately? I question how much parenting she is really doing, so I wouldn’t consider her a paragon of motherhood. But I digress…

    I have one biological daughter and twin daughters as a result of donor egg. Not too many people know about the donor egg (it’s the girls’ story to tell, not mine) but I’m amazed when well-meaning friends who do know ask me about my girls’ “real mother”. Even my dad used that phrase – WTH?! It burns a little, but I chalk it up to ignorance. I (and my daughters) know who their real mother is!

  9. Daisy Says:

    Bad enough that he asked the question at all – worse that he worked it into the print interview.

  10. Lawyer Mama Says:

    I’m not feeling very erudite today, so I’ll just say – what a moron.

  11. Amanda Says:

    Ok, I have three children, three daughters to be exact. They are each my biological child, but my love, no matter how desperately I tried to make it exactly the same, is different for each. No two loves are alike, as no two children are alike. To suggest that loving differently is a result of whether they are children by birth or adoption is tired. Salacious. Absurd. I am so sorry parents who’ve adopted keep having to deal with this crap.

  12. Lumpyheadsmom Says:

    Not having read the article, I feel like I’m talking out of my ass here, but I’ll start my cheeks flapping anyway. Maybe it’s fine that the reporter asked the question? As you recognize, many people make the unwarranted distinction between biological and adopted children. I think it’s important for moms like Jolie to have the opportunity to bat down such questions as absurd, based on faulty assumptions, and quite offensive. I think it does more to inform public opinion to have the question asked – and dismissed as ridiculous, ignorant, and backward – than to edit it out or not ask it at all. Maybe? Then again, if Ms. Jolie does a poor job of explaining the forehead-thumping stupidity of the question, it does a disservice to all adoptees and their families.

  13. SUEB0B Says:

    And while they’re at it, can they stop shoving her breasts up under her chin?

    I know it is an awful question but some people still hold those ideas. My dad, just the other day, said that my cousin wasn’t his sister’s “real” child. My cousin is 58 years old and was adopted as a newborn and took care of both her elderly parents for years as they prepared to die…and yet, somehow, to him, she isn’t “real.” Makes me sick but dinosaurs like him will hopefully pass from the earth soon (I’m not wishing for my dad’s death but the death of his attitude).

  14. winecat Says:

    I’m certain that question would qualify for my “Are people really that stupid?” category.

  15. Mrs. Schmitty Says:

    What an idiotic thing to ask. Did he seriously think she’d answer that? Did he seriously think that there is even an answer for that other than, “You’re a moron?”

  16. TEOM Says:

    Vanity Fair has seriously gone downhill…

  17. katiekins Says:

    i’m adopted and my siblings arent. my mother hates us all equally.

  18. charmingdriver Says:

    Without a doubt the question is ass but at the same time I think Jolie rather courts such inquiries by making statements after the birth of Shiloh such as, ”I think I feel so much more for Madd and Zee because they’re survivors, they came through so much. Shiloh seemed so privileged from the moment she was born. I have less inclination to feel for her … I met my other kids when they were 6 months old, they came with a personality. A newborn really is this … Yes, a blob! … I don’t ignore her needs, just because I think the others are more vulnerable.”

    Just: UGH, all the way around.

  19. Smiling, Beguiling Says:

    I’m adopted, my younger brother was not. I know my mom loved us equally, my dad I’m not so sure.

    I was reunited with my biological mother in 1997 & I can assure you, she is NOT my “real” mother, though we do maintain a cautious friendship. She had four children in 5 yrs, gave the youngest three away to Socia Services. It was the best choice for her. And I know I was meant to be with my adoptive family anyway, no matter how hard it qasover the years being “different”.

    It has been my adoptive patents who I’ve cared for the past 10+ years, mom died of Alzheimers last summer, dad is on hopsice. My brother? Their bio son? Can’t be bothered. To figure!

    Vanity Fair lost me a long time ago, but this is just one more reason IMO to spend my $ on other rags. ;-)


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