by guest contributor Nina
(Note from CVK: as of now we’re getting conflicted reports over whether or not this adoption has gone through. Madonna’s publicist has denied it, but Malawi government officials have said it’s true.)
In the latest celebrity news, Madonna has adopted or plans to adopt an orphan from Malawi. Apparently she wants a boy and had about a dozen to choose from. So now it is just a short time before we see the little one in the most stylish baby clothes, being carted around the streets of London and L.A. in the Material Girl’s arms. The new mother,with a smug “aren’t-I-an-amazing-person-
because-I-adopted-this-child-that-would-have-died-without-my-help” look on her face.
I know that we are supposed to be in awe of celebrities adopting African children orphaned by HIV/AIDS, but I cannot shake the feeling that it is just a trendy act and reeks of noblesse oblige and reputation rehab! Maybe Madonna will get a shout out on BET’s 106th & Park. A decade ago Hollywood was adopting African American kids (Mia Farrow, Tom Cruise, Michelle Pfeiffer, Steven Spielberg), and now the cause celebre is Africa itself and as the caustic mass media puts it “AIDS babies.”
Some would argue that without these individuals, the orphans would die. Well according to a 2003 UNICEF report, “AIDS has already orphaned more than 11 million African children, half of whom are between the ages of 10 and 14.” So unless Angelina, Madonna and the rest plan on adopting a few hundred kids each then they aren’t really putting a dent in the situation. The old adage, give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day seems to apply here. Less than 5 % of Africans affected with HIV/AIDS have access to medication that costs a mere $7-8 a day. A couple of million dollars for antiretrovirals that keep these kids’ parents alive would be far more beneficial in the long run than adopting one child. Instead Madonna hopes to spend $3 million on a kabbalah-influenced orphanage to indoctrinate Malawian children in her religion of the moment.
Furthermore, the issue of these children’s racial/cultural identity is worth discussion. Malawi has a ban on non-resident adoptions of Malawian children. A ban that was in place, presumably, to maintain the culture of their children. But the ban was lifted for Madonna. This site has devoted considerable time to issues of racial identity, particularly for transracially adopted children. When Oprah asked Tom Cruise, “how do you discuss race with your son?” (who is African-American). Cruise looked at Oprah like she asked him to describe bestiality. “He’s my son, Oprah. He’s my son” he said indignantly, to the applause of a mostly white audience.
Race is a thorny topic but it needs to be talked about especially if you adopt from outside your own. I just don’t think that white, wealthy celebrities can really deal with it. Hell, even celebrities of color live in a rarefied world. I once saw an interview with Natalie Cole where she said she didn’t realize she was black until she got to college. And she grew up during segregation! I cannot wait to hear from Zahara, Maddox and all the rest in the years to come.