Monday, November 16, 2009

Celebrities and Adoption: my personal dilemma

OK - so I was in the supermarket, saw the headline and couldn't resist purchasing this October 2009 issue of People Magazine!  Then, after I returned home to read the article, I remembered why it is that I only read People magazine in the doctor's office *sigh*.  Not quite the depth I was looking for.  If only this story could have been covered by Newsweek!  Nevertheless, I'm still intrigued by Katherine Heigl's family - past and present.  Now on a mission to discover the truth!
Katherine Heigl, best known for her current role on TV's Grey's Anatomy, is a newlywed and a new mother!  She and her husband, singer Jason Kelley, adopted a special needs Korean baby.  She even announced it on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. What I didn't know is that her older sister, Margaret (Meg) is a Korean-born adoptee, which had a big influence on her decision to adopt. "It's something I've always wanted to do...", she says. Interesting!
So this leaves me with a personal dilemma: do I think that celebrity adoption is a good thing or not?
On the one hand, I'm encouraged to see transracial adoptions get a lot of positive press.  Hugh Jackman seems to have the right attitude; when he expressed his desire to adopt, he asked, "where is the greatest need?" and adopted two multiracial kids. Stephen Spielberg and Kate Capshaw also seem like a good role models for people seeking to adopt.
On the other hand, there's a part of me that cringes when I see celebs like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (However, in recent news, Angelina wants to adopt without Brad!), Madonna and, yes, even Katherine Heigl suddenly make headline news because of their adoption.  They make it look so easy.  Walk in and adopt.  Everyone is so happy, happy. (Although, in Katherine Heigl's defense, she does talk about the major application they had to fill out as parents.  And the agency states that their adoption was processed so quickly due to "good social work practices.").
One end of the spectrum: I have the good-intentioned adoptive parents who genuinely want to create a family by providing a permanent home for a child.  Even the celebrity can fall into this category.  On the other end of the spectrum, I hear terrible stories of human trafficking and adoption agencies or countries that exploit children so they can benefit from the money they will make off the adoption fees.
So, I really am torn.  How should I view these celebrity adoptions: friend or foe? And will the media ever provide truth and depth to these celebrity stories - or will they forever be a mystery?


pu5erfish said...

I would say that if these high profile adoptions convince one person that they could love and parent a child who did not look like them, then you have to say that they have had value. Rightly or wrongly, in this country we look to celebrities for so many of our cues of socialization. That some of them are using that platform to expand our notion of the boundaries of love, even if they're doing it for purely selfish reasons, has to be a good thing, even if we'd like to scorn them for it.

kdmade said...

Ugh, tough one. There is something about making it seem natural for people who look to celebrities for how to lead their own lives (we really should all throw our TVs out the window, but that's another story entirely). And I guess if Brangelina want to adopt a billion kids, it's better than having them biologically because at least they aren't adding to our overpopulation of the Earth (yes, Octomom, I'm talking to you). The question, I guess, is whether a celebrity is doing it because they want to inspire others or because they see it as a publicity stunt, and we'll never really know the answer to that. And I don't think the answer "because Madonna did it, so I can too!" would get very far on a questionnaire about why you want to adopt. I think it's something you have to discover for yourself in your heart and in your own personal experiences in life, as with all major decisions.

JBH said...

pu5erfish and kdmade:

Thanks for weighing in! Your insights gave me some peace about these highly-public adoptions.

Yes, I agree that our society looks to celebrities for cues including me, ironically, otherwise this post would not have appeared:-) I hope that people will not blindly accept these stories at face-value, but will question, dig deeper and make intelligent decisions.