Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Madonna & David

Sounds like a renaissance painting or statue or something, but it's not -- it's just recent news about a pop star and her attempts to adopt a baby from Malawi. And of course, the human rights groups who have come out against the adoption.

Now I am a major supporter of human rights, especially the rights of children. But I don't see what the fuss is about. I understand the technical point being raised by the human rights groups, but seriously, do they really think the child would be better off in a orphanage in Malawi then in the care of Madonna & Guy Ritchie? Especially when the father - who surrendered his child to the openness because he couldn't afford to care for him - approves of the adoption?

I know, I know -- the "law" in Malawi says that prospective parents have to stay in Malawi for 18 to 24 months before an adoption can be finalized. But even the Malawi government recognizes that this law is archaic and not conducive to the best interests of children. Seriously, think about -- if every adoption was required to be preceded by 18-24 months of the adoptive parents residing in the culture, or even within the state, within which the child is to be adopted, think how far fewer adoptions there would be. There are enough parentless children out there without requiring draconian rules that would lessen the prospective parent pool. I can tell you this - two very good friends of mine adopted an adorable little girl from Russia. They would not be parents today if they had been required to live in Russia for 2 years before they could bring their daughter home. And besides, it simply does not take 18-24 months to assess prospective parents.

I also know that some people believe children do best growing up close to their cultural home. But, having majored in cultural anthropology, I know a thing or two about the topic and I don't buy that crap. Maybe once a child is older he or she would do better in their country of origin, but for very young children -- they have no culture. Culture is taught. Language is taught. If a child is raised in America, for example, by American parents, he or she will be American, regardless of whether he or she was born in Malawi, or Canada, or in my case, Italy (although technically I think of myself as Italian-American, but that's another story).

And, I also know that some people are simply against international adoption. But these people are not really thinking about the child -- they're thinking about themselves, or the country, or some other socio-political cause. If children are without parents because of disease or war or famine, then yes the root problems need to be cured. But in the meantime someone has to care for the children who are left behind. The countries can't do it so - -hell, look at America, we're supposedly the richest country in the world and our child welfare system is shit -- so if the only people who want or can afford to care for orphaned children happen to live in other countries, then so be it. Maybe it isn't fair. But tough fucking luck, cause life ain't fair, and ya gotta do the best you can.

Anyway -- if the courts in Malawi, and the government of Malawi, and the sole living parent of the child all think adoption by Madonna is best for this child, without abiding by the 24 month rule, then who are these supposed human rights groups to say otherwise? I don't care if it's un-PC to take sides against these human rights groups, but I am. I find it hard to believe that anyone can seriously say that a child, any child, would be better off in an orphanage than with willing parents. I find it hard to believe that anyone with any sense thinks it takes 18-24 months to monitor prospective parents, or that monitoring must take place in the country of origin. I believe there needs to be strict rules surrounding adoption, but I also believe that some rules go too far, and are too strict. When that happens, its OK to relax the rules if relaxing the rules means a child will find a safe and loving home.

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