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Madonna’s 2nd (hopeful) international adoption criticized

Madonna's 2nd (hopeful) international adoption criticizedInternational pop legend Madonna, a 50-year old single mother of three, has applied to adopt a second child from the African nation of Malawi. “Her name is Mercy James from Mchinji Home of Hope orphanage. She has no father and mother, they both died,” stated an official at the ministry of Gender and Child Development.

Rumors have been circulating for some time that the singer wanted to bring home a daughter, especially since Madonna herself told the Malawian press last week that she was considering such a move. (Friends of hers suggested that her first adopted son, David, needed a sibling. Madonna said she would do it with “the support of the Malawian people and government.”) But on Friday, officials in both the United States and Malawi confirmed that she had filed paperwork to begin a second adoption. However, Madonn’a personal spokeswoman, Liz Rosenberg, did not comment on the announcement.

Critics attacked Madonna’s throughout her first adoption, completed with ex-husband Guy Ritchie. People said she had circumvented Malawi adoption regulations because of her star power, bringing her son, David Banda, now 3, home to London before the mandatory 18-24 month assessment period that all prospective adoptive parents undergo. Technically, David’s adoption was not finalized until that waiting period was over. And a Malawi government official who did two home studies praised Madonna in glowing terms.

But even without the hubbub over her waiting period, others, including well-known charity Save the Children, harshly criticized Madonna–and all other international adoptive parents, by implication–for removing the child from his homeland.  “The best place for a child is in his or her family in their community,” said a spokesman. “Most children in orphanages have one parent still living, or have an extended family that can care for them in the absence of their parents.” They believe that people should only adopt internationally if there are no options for adopting within your own home country and the child has no living relatives.

In the case of Madonna’s son David, the boy’s father is still living, but had taken him to the orphanage because he could not afford to care for him. Save the Children said that if Madonna really cared about the poor children, she should have given the boy’s dad money to take care of him at home.

Mercy James, the four-year old girl that Madonna seeks to adopt, has no surviving parents. So why would anyone be upset this time around? Because Madonna is not married, and is not a resident of Malawi. Some critics are insisting that she would be breaking Malawian law. However, a Malawi welfare official said this is not true, that they evaluate each case independently. Madonna will appear in court as early as this Monday to present her adoption case.

In 2008, the celebrity said she wanted to take all of her children to Malawi. Madonna has two biological children, 12-year-old daughter, Lourdes, and 8-year-old son, Rocco, in addition to David.

While I have to concede the woman’s amazing vocal talent, I don’t like Madonna at all. I don’t like the circumstances surrounding her adoption of David. But I do not at all agree with Save the Children that it is better for a child to languish in a home-country orphanage when he or she is available for adoption, on the hopes that a nearby relative may visit occasionally. Of course I think it’s terrible when children are taken away from family members. And maybe it would be best for them to stay in their culture. But sometimes that isn’t an option. I have many close friends who have adopted children internationally (China, Guatemala, Haiti, Thailand, and Ethiopia) and domestically, and I think they have done the right thing. There are a lot of children in this world without a home. I think it’s a wonderful thing to give them a home–even if it’s halfway around the world–as long as they have no parents or the parents understand and consent to the adoption.

Finally, Save the Children recommends adopting within your own country. I totally agree. There are hundreds of thousands of American children eligible for adoption. But unfortunately, people don’t do it because they want a baby or toddler. And many people are scared to adopt within the US because of custody issues. My friend who adopted from Thailand went overseas after her first adopted son was given back to his birthmother. (She changed her mind about the adoption 8 months later.) Another couple I am friends with did finalize their domestic adoption, after an 18 month custody battle with their son’s paternal grandparents (the dad had his rights terminated because he was in jail and had 3 other children he was not supporting). These things may be rare, but they happen. And they drive people to seek international adoptions where such interruptions are almost unknown.

What do you think about all of this? In theory, I mean. International adptions, star power, Save the Children. Who’s right?


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