Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Madonna and child-- Maybe a tragedy

Let me do something unusual and begin this post with an anecdote from my own experience. A few years ago my kids loved getting stamped with any kind of stamp (you know, when you buy tickets to something they often will give a hand stamp, so they thought any kind of hand stamp was 'cool.' So one day I took them to a local business and they had a stamp pad, which they used to stamp checks, that read "For deposit only at Wells Fargo." So my kids wanted the clerk to stamp it on the backs of their hands, so she gave in and did so. Later on I had an errand to run at Wells Fargo, so I showed the teller my kids' hands and asked if I could deposit them and take them out when they had reached maturity. The teller said, "No" and continued with the transaction. Of course we both knew it was a joke.

The other day I put up a post on Madonna's adoption of a baby from an African orphanage. At the time, it seemed as though it was pretty much a fairy tale come true for the child, in that he would have everything he could want. I was unhappy with the various 'human rights' organizations that have raised objections, most of which I consider to be silly or irrelevant to the adoption.

However, some things have happened during the past week. The main one is that the father of the child, who last week had been fine with the adoption, now is insisting that he was fooled or misled into signing his son over to Madonna. He says that he was told that she would only raise the child for him and then send his son home after he had been brought up by Madonna. For her part, Madonna has said that she never actually met the father (he confirms this) but did not take the child until she was assured that he had consented to the adoption. She also believes that one reason he has changed his position is because of all the media attention beginning on day one (which I believe may well be the case). If it is, then the tabloid media, just as may have been the case in the Princess Diana tragedy, and as was certainly the case in a car crash a couple of years ago involving Lindsey Lohan, may have helped to cause the news by their overly aggressive pursuit of it. And when the media is actually in there causing the news, while I would defend their right to do so, they need to take the responsibility to know they are over the line.

This is a very complicated mess. The father says he cannot read (most people in Malawi can't) so he had it verbally explained to him, and he says that the way it was explained to him was different than waht actually happened. On one hand I wonder about anyone who would assume that someone would want to raise their child only to send them back (hence the reason why the teller and I knew that the aforementioned exchange was a joke) but at the same time I also can understand that an impoverished and illiterate man who has just lost his wife in childbirth might not perceive that in the same way I would. I don't blame Madonna-- she apparently went through all the necessary steps to obtain the necessary paperwork, but it is very likely that there may have been some corrupt official somewhere in between who saw the chance to make a big payday (or maybe even worse, someone higher up who pressured those below him to 'make it happen,' for reasons of the good press he thought the country would get.)

I still think the media and the 'human rights' groups involved should have laid off this story until there was a story (i.e. if and when the father had said what he has now said after the media storm began.)

There are no winners here. Only losers. Madonna will very likely be stripped of a son she wanted very badly, the father still won't be able to raise him and when he inevitably finds out that he could have been raised in a life of luxury in England will fairly or not blame his father, the nation of Malawi, which will probably be known only for this story, loses, the child loses (he will be yanked away from the only real home he has known and sent back to the stuffy orphanage to an uncertain future) and thousands of other kids lose because of all the people who will now think twice about adopting from Africa. A true tragedy.

No comments: