Friday, May 19, 2006

The Occasional CELEBRITY FERTILITY column: The Media and the Adoption of "Colorful" Children


I shouldn't have to tell anyone this, that adopting a child, particularly one of of color, is not the same as bringing back a really groovy, ethnic looking handbag while on your trip to Guatemala!

Put another way, just because Angelina has an African baby doesn't mean YOU have to have one right this minute. First, sit down, and see if this impulse will pass...

Influence of the media: when my husband and I were looking for a house in Providence, RI, we were unfortunately caught in a weird price spike that our real estate agent informed us was caused by that hit TV show, "Providence." Apparently people saw what they thought was Providence on TV (hint: there are no palm trees in Providence, although there might be later, w/global warming) even though the show was actually filmed in LA, and these people suddenly decided it was so famous or something they had to live here, thus pushing up the prices for us "other" people who have to live here because we work at Brown University. There's a certain amount of illogic in a house-purchasing decision based on a TV show, but hey, it's a free country.

However, when people see Angelina Jolie creating an awesome, real-live Benneton ad by adopting all sorts of colorful kids with her caucasian husband (she has said she wants to adopt a child from every country she visits--eeek!), apparently this is unleashing an I-can-be-just-like-a-celebrity-rush for children in Africa:

Adam Pertman, executive director of Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute tells us that yes, "some of it is star driven. After Angelina Jolie adopted a kid from Ethiopia, agencies got a spate of calls from parents wanting to know how to adopt a kid from Ethiopia."

FertilityBitch does not presume to know or understand the motives, good, bad or ugly, of any prospective adoptive parent (...and does she consider herself a prospective adoptive parent of a Korean child someday? Possibly...), but she does love People magazine and has occasionally been known to see in its pages a cool boho top on Sienna and become seized by a fever to rush and posses something similar for herself. But she just wants to say, a child is not a cool boho top or a Guatemalan handbag! Caveat emptor!

Read it and weep, in Boston.com: http://www.boston.com/news/world/africa/articles/2006/05/19/americans_adopting_more_african_children/?p1=email_to_a_friend

Read about the good, bad, and ugly about Korean adoption in my novel: marielee.net

4 comments:

ecokim said...

I hear you on your concerns - my husband and I have been thinking about adoption for a year or so - and my friend asked me yesterday if we were going to adopt a "white" baby or do the interracial thing. I hadn't given it a lot of thought. We just know we want to have a child.
The 'trendiness' of adoption due to Angelina's kids is a concern, but from what I understand of the aoption process, it is not something agencies take lightly. If one has decided to procure a small Ehtiopian baby, to go along with their Paris Hilton shades and their Hermes bag, the process of endless evaluations, paperwork and assessments will certainly deter their whimsy.
I think that Angelina's interest in adoption from 'every country she visits' stems more from a true desire to help those in need. Remember, these are not children who are basking in the arms of luxury, they are people who need a family - and nourishment - and love.
Aside from all of this, the mingling of races that happens as these "colorful" families unite, only continues to challenge the small minded.

Green Fertility Marie said...

Hi Ecokim,

Unfortunately there is so much "public decisionmaking" that goes into adoption that doesn't figure into biological children, that I have strong feelings both for and against international adoption (and thanks for reminding me--I wanted to post my essay on birth mothers--please see above), and the only thing I know for sure is if I do adopt, it will definitely be from Korea. I just feel that even Chinese culture (from which Korea derives much of its culture) is so foreign to me, I personally don't feel I'd do it properly....that's just me, however. I have some friends who are amazing parents to their Korean born children; I think they'd be amazing parents, regardless...

cheers,
marie

Anonymous said...

I think that celebrities role in adoption is very important! Firstly they make children life better, and the second is that they can draw our attention to this problem!

Brandi said...

Great Post!
Adoption Resource