Thursday, October 19, 2006

Madonna and Child

I have to wonder about my own good sense when I feel the need to defend Madonna twice in less than two months. In August I put up a post defending her in the face of intimidation by German police. This despite the fact that I have concluded that she actually has talent-- considering that the words, 'offensive' and 'vapid' are very nearly antonyms, she had to have some kind of talent to figure out how to fit both of those adjectives at the same time. I guess you could say that her work can provoke a strong yawn.

However, this time the pop diva finds herself under fire by human rights groups for her recent adoption of a baby boy from an orphanage in Malawi. The child, named David, was sent there by his father after his mother died in childbirth and the father was unable to afford the child. The boy's father is in fact ecstatic about the adoption, and should be, knowing that far from the uncertain future of struggling to survive that he would face had he stayed in Malawi, he will grow up with all of his material needs provided for and be able to attend quality schools and get a very good education. And Madonna clearly wanted this child. In the orphanage he would have received little in the way of love, but he now has it.

As to the 'human rights' groups who are grumbling about her adopting and removing from Malawi a child who had kinfolk in the country (even though it was his nearest kin, his father, who put him in the orphanage to start with), what exactly did they do for this boy when he was in the orphanage? Did they give him any of what Madonna will give him? He has a future now, but none of those 'human rights' groups were offering him anything other than the remote possibility that someday some relative might change their mind and take him in.

There is also the issue of whether she was able to bend the rules as a wealthy celebrity, and cut through a lot of the red tape that you or I would face if we wanted to adopt a child from the same orphanage (although Madonna insists that she followed the letter of the law both in Malawi and in England, where she will be raising the child). My question would be what if she did manage to bend the rules? If that is a problem, well maybe then the rules should be easier to work through in general. There are certainly millions of orphans in Africa and other impoverished places in the world who would benefit from adoption. The biggest concern of course is that some could be adopted by pedophiles or other nefarious characters. However that doesn't justify the long wait time or the red tape; it is hard to know what could be discovered in a year or two that can't be discovered within a week by someone who is competent to conduct background checks, particularly in this information age. And somehow I doubt whether during the long and extended wait time, that the Government of Malawi or any other entity has an army of detectives on the case digging into every facet of the background of the potential adoptive parent(s). But every day wasted with red tape is a day lost forever. Children grow up too fast for the red tape to delay international adoptions for as long as it does now.

Oh, and there are the ideological objections from both left and right. From the left we hear that this could be close to 'baby selling.' I don't see it. True, I'm sure that the Government of Malawi is making a few dollars on this, but the boy's father isn't making a dime, and it's not like the high-minded objection does anything to fix the situation. And yes, the boy is black and Madonna is white, but that doesn't make any difference to her, so why should it make a difference to anyone else? I have trouble understanding why anyone would object to an interracial adoption if it is in the child's best interest. He will still be just as black when he grows up, but he will be an educated, probably well off, black man in a position to do some good wherever he wants to, instead of being a poor black man in a poverty stricken country maybe not even surviving to adulthood. Besides, were there any black adoptive parents who wanted to take this boy? No. Alright then, so why should't Madonna? And on the right, we hear the objections that Madonna has offended some people with the lyrics and actions she has put on stage. So what? Is that so bad that she shouldn't be allowed to provide a home for this child? Whatever her problems are, I don't see how they prevent her from helping this child. Maybe motherhood will cause her to consider what is offensive and what isn't, and not put anything on stage that she wouldn't want her child watching. But even if that isn't the case, it is hard to argue that this boy would have been better off where he was.

Frankly I don't care about Madonna. And I don't care about the various groups who now seem to find lots of time to complain about it, but who didn't offer to adopt and raise another child themselves. But I was happy to hear of this adoption, because at least now there is one child who will have a much better life than he would have had. And that is worth celebrating.

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