Madonna “adopts an African Child” – Some time ago Mad Kenyan Woman (Interesting that I find myself constantly referring to this post!) wrote
CLEARANCE SALE!!!! EVERY AFRICAN COUNTRY MUST GO!!!! PRICES SLASHED !!! BUY ONE, GET THE GOVERNMENT FREE!!! (POPULATION OPTIONAL)
Too disgusted to say anything more on this……..
It seems to be the current fashion statement of choice.
What’s the aggro about? I just don’t get it. Is it because Madonna is white, a celebrity, or what? Or is there something unique about this case that sets it apart from other cases of adoption elsewhere? Is the child in question worse off, and should have been left alone, in Africa, with the biological parents? Or was the child sold off to Madonna?
You did provide a link to the original article, and I have been there. But I must say I still don’t get what the bad blood is about.
What is wrong about others adopting African children?
Transracial adoption is problematic for a number of reasons but particularly for those who have no connection with the Black/African community which would enable the child to interact with that community on regular basis. This sets a dangerous precedent where children from poor families are vulnerable to adoptions that have not been thoroughly thought through by the birth parents. You may not be aware but there are thousands of cases every year of children being adopted in unscrupulous ways from countries in Africa, Asia, South America and countries in Eastern Europe such as Romania and also in Russia.
Her richness adds to the dimension in that people are able to by pass the normal adoption channels which takes up to two years of counselling where reasons for adoption are discussed; background checks on the family take place and if it is transracial issue of racism and how the couple will facilitate access to the child’s ethnic and cultural background and so on. It is a slow process to ensure that the child’s best interest is being met and not just an indulgence for the parents.
Children are not commodities to be picked up by people at will. I posted a piece last week on this topic in which I sighted my own experience with black children growing up with white families who felt culturally and racially alienated, faced constant racism from growing up in a white only environment. Many of these children are now living with much pain – removed from their own communities with no understanding of their cultures and her/histories. This is a fact not a theory thought up by academics. I am talking about real people. I see it everyday, black kids with white families, the girls hair left unkempt, skins not oiled and dried out, held out as tropies that say hey i have a black kid – I am so cool! These are important as we as black people know how to deal with them. If white parents cannot even learn how to take care of hair and skin then I don’t expect they have contact with the black community therefore the children remain in isolation. We do not live in a colour blind society. We live in a society where issues of race and colour are unresolved and impact on everyone’s lives in one way or the other. You are taking a child all the way from Malawi in Africa with no knowledge of Blackness, Africa or Malawi into a wholly white environment.
By the way ask yourself what would be the case if an African couple decided to adopt a white child? Are they even allowed to adopt white children. If race and colour are not issues then why is that so? Your statement also ignores the power relations between any white person but in particular a very rich famous white person and a small Malawian village.
I do not believe this adoption is in the long term interest of the child to be brought up within his own community. If Madonna wanted to help she can help the family to raise the child and support the community in various ways. She could spend her time and money working towards finding and supporting black and in this case African homes for children. I believe it irresponsible of the Malawian authorities to allow this child to be removed from his environment in this way and as for Madonna – words fail me.
For a personal perspective and far more articlate response to your statement see this post. Bright Colored Kids
i think Madonna is cool, i mean why should a child face the poverty some people in africa are facing now when he or she can leave with people who can afford to by a quarter of nigeria or other countries in africa….
interesting…. I wrote about the very thing….. it is utterly disturbing that the trend now is to adopt an African child.. it is all about feeling good about oneself… the Vain Project I heard someone call it…. .
Black child@ yes why should children face poverty in Africa and elsewhere. Madonna could make a difference in many other ways that would impact on whole communities of children rather than one child – I now hear she is going to fund an orphanage great – she should/could 10 even greater but taking one child – how does that help? Will anyone be monitoring the progress and welfare of this child ensuring that ALL his needs are being met? Or is it assumed that the rich do not abuse and neglect children and that money is everything a child needs? The child’s father is alive, why wasnt he given the support to bring up his own child – shit this whole thing disgusts me.
I have the money the power therefore I can…..
Sokari, i get what you are saying but we should be grateful that at least one child wont have to see and face what some of us have faced back home…
Madonna may not give the child the world but at leat i think she will care for him… i knw money isnt everything but…
i too am puzzled why Madonna did not give the father the money to support him without the whole adoption process
we should count every good deed coz every good deed counts…
Sokari–so should Lionel Richie give up Nicole?????
Thanks for the clarification. Adoption is a sensitive issue, and when one adds the issue of race, one just makes the case more complex. But i think it is a subjective call to assume that folks like Madonna enter into the adoption business because they want to be ‘cool’. Just because there are several cases of adoption gone wrong ( for whatever reasons) does not lend credence to the notion that Madonna wouldn’t prove to be a good parent.
Is Madonna cause tainted by her notoriety and celebrity status? Yes, I think so. Subjects on race will always be a favorite discussion, but at what point, and in what instances, do the issue of race become irrelevant?
While I have no business dictating the tone of your blog, I’d say rather than slanting the discussion towards race, in my opinion, the social ills that facilitate Africans giving up their children for adoption and others ‘taking shortcuts’ to become adoptee parents would be a more objective and insightful approach to take. Sensationalizing the issue of adoption is, on the long run, may prove to be as injurious as the menace you speak against.
On why African couple don’t adopt a white child. The idea of adoption has not been well received by the African society, so the issue of adopting a white children is not that relevant.
The question is “Would the adopted African child of Madonna better or worse off? Based on what I have read here and on the original post, the impression I get is the latter. This is a preemptive call and so so biased.
Sokari are you implying that Madonna is going to neglect or abuse this child?! And as for who is going to monitor this childs progress, um how about the entire world’s press? Now I know money doesn’t buy love etc but has there ever been an issue regarding Madonna’s suitability as a parent or issues of her not looking after her children? NO – she appears to be an excellent parent, so what justification is there for claiming she might not be to this child? Why should she do more/other things to help black or african children on a wider scale? simply because she can afford to? She has made it clear that she wanted another child and chose to adopt but that’s not good enough apparently.
i am very shocked by the comments on this post that seem to be totally oblivious of the issues regarding black children beeing adopted by white parents. i completely agree with sokari and there are years of documented experience in the united kingdom to support her view. the law in malawi requires prospective adoptive parents to foster for 2 years plus regular monitoring by a social worker. madona has gone to court to avoid these regulations thus using her status to bypass the law, surely this in itself is an abuse of her position and power. It is a very selfish act and of course there are many more constructive ways she could have helped.
Me again. I need to make my case, really.
I am an adoptee. Fortunately, for my siblings and I were not separated. We are mixed, and were adopted by a black Kenyan woman. My mother was the best parent we could ever wish for (I love her intensely, and have no attachment to my Bio parents). However, I lost out on part of my heritage. It only makes sense that a parent teaches his/her child that which she knows. It was not until I was 15 that I learnt that I was part Egyptian, with a name to boot!! (I mean I always knew I was mixed, but didnt know what) Bcoz my adpting mother was Christian, and we were Muslim, we got baptised when I was 10, changing our names. Now most people will say be grateful u did not end up as street urchins on the streets of Nairobi. But you must know, that Identity is a big deal… everyone has a need to belong somewhere. Our journey was not that difficult seeing as we would have grown up Kenyan anyway.
But imagine, a black child adopted by a white family in white America.. the issues of identity that this child will grow up with are phenomenal to say the least.
When u stand out, physically, because society is like that, those issues are more intense.
@imnakoya… African adoption has not be a concept we understand, until recently, because we live in a village community. When kids are orphaned, relatives taken in the children, not considered adoption. The law doesn’t help either… my story again, because both of my bio parents were alive, even though incapable/unwilling to raise us, we could not be legally adopted…. as a result were awarded a GUARDIAN–my mother (complicated, aye?)….. .
Can I ask what is white about America? America is hugely multi-cultural (as is Britain). I can understand your identity argument but who is to say every case is going to be like this? Who is to say that Madonna will not take every care to educate this child about his heritage? People seem too quick to judge in my opinion and far too quick in their predjudices. And why is everyone judging Madonna and not the parents who gave this child up (spose it’s the evil money again)
To paraphrase Stalin, “A single adoption is a tragedy; a million adoptions are a statistic.”
@Starbliss of course the parents that give up their children are responsible. However, we know with money comes power, and as such more responsibilty. Besides, we know that as multi-cultural as the US is, it still is very segregated. Maybe Madonna will hire a black maid?
Imanakoya: I do not get your point about sensationalising adoption. The actual adoption by a very very rich female global icon of a very very poor black child is sensational in itself and doesnt require me or anyone else to sensationalise it.
The discussion is not being slanted towards race – I have tried to show the part race plays in this issue and as much as you and some others may believe or wish it to be irrelevant we have not in my opinion yet reached that point.
“in my opinion, the social ills that facilitate Africans giving up their children for adoption and others ‘taking shortcuts’ to become adoptee parents would be a more objective and insightful approach to take.”
All of these were addressed in my various comments and references in this piece and in the original piece on this topice published last week.
On the point my comment is biased – I dont see it that way and I believe I have explained my reasons why.
With all due respect it seems to me that everytime I write a piece which has a race/racial element your response is always to disagree that race is an issue?
Starbliss@ I agree with Majonzi response
Majonzi – indeed maybe she will hire a Malawian maid at that.
i read both this and your previous piece on transracial/transnational adoption and you’ve brought up some really interesting issues.
great point about how if madonna *really* wanted to help, she could have helped the boy’s father or the town he was from.
i recently saw a movie called “The Italian” about a Russian kid in an orphanage who, while going through the process of being adopted by an Italian couple, learns that his birth mother is still alive. all the folks in the movie were white, so the issues aren’t the same, but there were some parallels to what you’re talking about here: the desire of the orphanage to sell the kid regardless of his desires or the status of his mother, whether or not remaining in one’s birth culture is better or worse than leaving it for a “wealthier” life, that sort of thing.
i’m a white woman with white bio parents who has siblings of color and transracial adoption is something that i think about a lot. most of my siblings came to live with us when they were older and could choose where they wanted to be, but one sibling was basically given to my mom by her bio parents.
i know that being the only person of her ethnicity in the area we lived in was terribly difficult. she now lives near her bio parents and has a tough time – their language is not her language, their culture is not her culture.
i don’t know what i’m trying to say, really, just…thanks for this.
MidWestern Transport@ – Yes this is not always an issue of race as again I pointed out in my first response to Imnakoya. For example Romania,some of the former Soviet republics, and Russia are favourate places for Western Europeans and White Americans to look for adopted children often in very dubious circumstances. Check the internet and you will see. However the authorities in the US and Europe and the provider countries are trying to crack down on illegal adoptions of orphans in these ways.
YOu have said it very well – thanks:)
you know, the voice that is always missing in all of this is the voice of the mother–the children eventually on some level have the ability to speak, the parents always get the privilege of speaking–you never hear about the mother and what she has to say. I just read that angelina jolie’s adopted child’s mother was found after Jolie spent considerable amount of time convincing the world that she had died of aids. and of course, after she is found, the “statement” she released stated that she is “grateful” to jolie for rescuing the child from the depths of hell she would otherwise grow up in. but I have to wonder what she is thinking at night–and why jolie went to such lengths to convince everybody she is dead. Why are all the brown women who are growing babies for western women “dead” or “disappeared”??
Yes, I think brownfemipower made a very good point. When it comes down to it, these women – Madonna and Angelina – and the socities they represent take over the conversation of who adopts whom. It goes all the way back the “We [verb] them” formula that dictates the flow of colonialism. “We ADOPT them” “We RESCUE them”. Not only does this kind of adoption silence the parents, but it also creates a chasm in cultures that the child will have to bridge one day.
While these children are going to have a more privileged life and a life of access, I am not convinced that this necessarily means a better life. Also, adopting one child from an African country – one that a majority of the US does not know exists – doesn’t mean that the physical, medical, social, economical, political, etc. problems of AIDS and HIV are magically cured.
While these children are going to have a more privileged life and a life of access, I am not convinced that this necessarily means a better life.
I agree with you ann, I saw this show on street kids in a post tsunami world–some of them had been adopted as a result of the destruction of their communities. And there was one kid who started crying on camera–he missed his friends, he missed running the streets with them.
money gives you certian privileges, but it doesn’t and can’t replace community and being with other people like you…
I know nothing of Madonna’s motives but it seems to me that there is a rush of celebrities adopting photogenic children from third world coutries.
Why not just give millions to families so they can keep their children?
Or, adopt children from say.. the USA who may be of a different race but who are not likely to be adopted due to medical disabilties, psychological disabilites, abuse or age.
I personally think it is suspect and in most cases wrong.
You don’t see that though do you?
Cooper – I am not sure which comment(s) you are referring to but all but four of the comments here support the point you have made. I wrote exactly what you have said in my initial post and in my comments which you may not have read.
“The Malawian government bent the rules for Madonna due to her celebrity status and because she’s pledged several million dollars in aid for the country’s orphans.” Culled from Slate Magazine http://www.slate.com/id/2151356/fr/rss/
The Childrens Rights Group in Malawi and other Rights organisations are challenging the courts on their decision to allow the adoption to go through. its called “one law for the rich” “bribery”
ohh i see chinese babies are now out of fashion ..so celebrities are now rushing to Africa to adopt the first child they fancy…
is it about the baby or is it about having that imagine that oohh madonna has adopted a baby in Africa “LETS GO BUY HER ALBUM” yeeepeeee!!!!!
I don’t agree with the media completely in their outrage at Madonna adopting a Malawian kid, but there are good points raised in places.
The point of Madonna’s wealth: this cannot be an issue. If it were to become one (and I think it already has) then only the poor would be able to adopt. This is absurd.
On the other hand, the fact that Ms Ciccone’s status has allowed (at least) 18 months’ worth of checks and fact-finding missions to be negated is outrageous. Clearly, her status (if not her wealth) has enabled her to bypass certain steps along the way and this is seemingly now being questioned:
@Sokari: Some of the points you raise are absolutely correct, however, on the points on children not knowing their cultural background or specific ethnic requirements (such as diet, looking after hair etc), does this not come down to education? If someone like Madonna is willing to learn about how best to bring up a Malawian kid, to help them learn about their culture and to assist them as they grow then is the kid not in a better position than he was previously?
I 100% support Madonna for aopting little David. I say this because I was adopted from Kenya by a white couple who gave me the opportunity to go to school and live a good life and now I am doing so much for my poor relatives in Kenya and they are so proud of me.
Why is transracial adoption a problem? I am in the process of adopting two African Children. People have asked me everything fro “Why don’t you want two little white children from here” to ” You are going to bring back AIDS”. All of this shows how uneducated and ignorate the world is. There are MILLIONS of African babies dying all the time. There is a huge need for adoption. I am all for helping Africa get out of poverty, and be able to take care of their own children, but that takes time, and in the mean time children and growing up without stable attachments, or dying. Kids that grow up with Attachment disorder become problematic in society and make the problem worse not better. Why do I not adopt from the US? It is more difficult, more costly, though not impossible. In the mean time there are less expensive, eaiser routes of adoption in Africa, and the needs are great!
There is a lot of Black culture everywhere, there are more and more White Families adopting Black Children that would not have love and stability otherwise, and many die before the age of Five!
I have every intention of giving my African Children as much culture, and experiance of African Life as possible. Will I be perfect? Of course not, I have not grown up in Africa, but I can give love and opportunity. I feel like these children are already part of my family, and they are God’s Children, I am part of Gods Family, just as they are. There are many Black Children in White families that do well. When are we going to start really looking past color. The fact that there is a debate about it shows that racisim is still very much part of our culture.
Good for Madona, Angelina, and every other celebraty that is going something worthwhile with their money. Who cares if it is a plublicity stunt or not ( I don’t believe it is) it raises awareness of a very serious Global problem.
You can justify your actions any which way you like and of course you have to otherwise how could you do it. You comment shows you do not understand the issues – you think you are putting the child’s needs first whereas in fact it is your needs that are being put first. There are many ways in which you can support orphans and whole communities not just by giving money but by affecting meaningful change in your own governments attitude and also by supporting projects that do excellent work without being patronising and victimising Africans and our children.
What evidence do you have of black children doing well in white families? I have much evidence of black children being severely displaced by growing up in white families. Do whatever you have to do but do not expect me or others like me to give you our endorsement. Go adopt a white kid – they need families too!
Sokari, I totally agree with you and admire your thought process. I myself am an East African living in Europe. Am Married to a European. Both of us are not able to have children naturally but have always independently made bringing up children a central part of our adult life. There are many children in orphanages where I come from. After informing ourselves extensively on adoption and my blackness not qualifying me to adopt in my husband’s country, we decided to head for home and adopt from there. Several reasons helped me decide for home. First it was important for both of us that we be able to extend the child’s culture to him or her at a later stage. Since I only know one culture in depth, what better reason than to adopt from home. Secondly, my husband knows my country very well having lived and worked there for several years and his affiliation with my home is very strong. That he knows my culture and my language helps us to be confident that our daughter will always know who she is. Of course, we don’t want her to end up with the confusion of being “European” but rather the recognition that she has one European parent in addition to me.
She is quite fair and could pass for my husband’s biological daughter but we do not want to trick her into thinking that. Both sides of our families have accepted her whole heartedly and I think my being black makes her situation unique and easier. She does not stand out alone in my husband’s family as the ‘non-white’ and on my side we are all the same colour.
As a black person, the Europeans here do not even want to consider me as an adoptive parent of a white child and I ask myself ‘why’. At the end of the day Tara, it does become a racial issue. Why can you adopt in Africa but I can not adopt in Europe even though my living standards are way above the average European. It boils down to one thing only, my blackness which in western terms stands for poverty, disqualifies me from adopting a white child but your whiteness says you are wealthy so you can adopt a poor disadvantaged black child.
I do not agree with white families adopting black children if they are not willing to go back to that country at some point with the child so that the child can get a feel of his/her identity. I do not agree with white adoptions of black children when the white parents refuses to educate themselves on the care of that child. That is the uncombed hair because they are not aware that we need hair oil and an afro comb; and the ashy grey broken skin because the white parent fails to realize we need body oil twice a day especially in the winter months. Do they even know about sickel cell? What will they do when this shows up? If you are a prospective white parent who wants to adopt a black child, unless you are willing to do your homework, don’t take the child. They will just end up growing up with a lack of self confidence and a dislike for the self.
My daughter is lucky that we go home every year and she will always know who she is, and I am so proud that my husband has opened himself for re-education in areas that as a white person he admits he would have failed the child had he adopted her alone or with a white partner.
Adopt, yes, from wherever you choose, but know that it is beyond just thinking you are a ‘saviour’ and have done your part in making a difference. To have love to give is not the only reason, you must also be prepared to love the child enough to give him/her an identity that is hers and not yours, as would be the natural case for ones biological children.
In Chicago Illinois there are approximately 1500 black children waiting to be adopted compared to 500 white children. I am white and adopted a black child. We have been verbally and physically assulted by whites and blacks. I can’t wait until people stop segregating. It only shows ignorance. Be smart, love don’t hate.
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