Celebrity Adoption has recently hit the headlines due to the activities of such globally famous actors as Angelina Jolie and her partner, Brad Pitt, and singers such as Madonna. Like many non-famous people, these celebrities have chosen to expand their families through adoption – so why do they receive mixed reviews in the press?
Possibly because celebrity adoption is not as clear-cut as it seems. It seems to differ from ordinary adoption in at least four main ways. Firstly, it increasingly involves adopting very quickly – where ordinary people might have to wait years to adopt, celebrities can cut through the red tape and take the baby of their choice home in a matter of weeks. Some say this is not fair, it is seen as queue-jumping. Others argue that, being rich, celebrities can employ several adoption agencies at once and this may explain why they get quicker results.
Secondly, the adoptee is often from another country. In the press it is alleged that despite there being deserving potential adoptees in the celebrity’s home country, internationally famous people apparently prefer adopting children from overseas. Madonna adopted a child in Malawi, Meg Ryan has adopted a Chinese child, Ewan McGregor has recently adopted a child from Mongolia, and Angelina Jolie has adopted children in places as far apart as Ethiopia and Cambodia. This is not a new trend either. After the Vietnam War, Julie Andrews adopted two Vietnamese children who had been orphaned. However, the criticism in such cases is that certain professionals believe that it is important for a child to be adopted by a family which has the same cultural and religious background and the same ethnicity. Others argue that it is better for a child to be adopted by any person, of any creed or colour, rather than spend extended amounts of time, undernourished emotionally and physically, in an orphanage. In countries ravaged by AIDS the orphanages are overflowing and resources are stretched to the limits. Malawi, for example, is reported to have over one million orphans and it has been pointed out that it can only help the situation if children from these orphanages are adopted. It has also been suggested that the international adoptions carried out by famous celebrities help to raise awareness of the problems faced by children in poverty-stricken countries and to make people in the western world more aware that adoption does not necessarily mean taking home a white baby.
Thirdly, some celebrities seem to like adopting repeatedly. Where an ordinary adopter might settle for a family of between one and, say, four children, the celebrity carries on and on. The actress Mia Farrow adopted ten! Of course, famous people are rich enough to afford large families, though it could be argued that constant new additions to the family can be unsettling for the rest of the children.
Finally, celebrity adoptions these days tend to centre on beautiful babies or toddlers. For non-famous adopters the choice may not be so ideal. Many children who need adopting are over five years old. They are not babies. Many are older still – teenagers need adopting too. They may have behavioural problems, medical conditions, or disabilities. For a non-famous prospective adoptive parent the chances of getting a beautiful, healthy baby are comparatively small.
Quick Quiz: Read the clues below and write the solutions on a piece of paper. Then take the first letter of each answer and rearrange them to find the hidden word connected with this Talking Point.
1. Like many non-famous people, these celebrities have chosen to expand their families through adoption – so why do they receive mixed reviews in the __________?
2. Possibly because celebrity adoption is __________ as clear-cut as it seems. It seems to differ from ordinary adoption in at least four main ways.
3. Being __________, celebrities can employ several adoption agencies at once and this may explain why they get quicker results.
4. In the press it is alleged that internationally famous people apparently prefer adopting children from __________.
5. It has also been suggested that the international adoptions carried out by famous celebrities __________ to raise awareness of the problems faced by children in poverty-stricken countries.
6. Some celebrities seem to like adopting repeatedly. The __________ Mia Farrow adopted ten!