The irony of my writing about my feelings regarding celebrity adoptions is pretty enormous since as a rule, I go about my life virtually unaware of much of popular culture. My children gauge the magnitude of someone’s fame based upon whether I have heard of the celebrity in question. Once they’ve asked if I know who someone is, if I have answered in the affirmative, they will always follow it up by asking if I know what the person does. I find ‘singer’ to be a good all-purpose response if I don’t know… which I usually don’t. All this to say, it takes a bit for someone’s fame to enter my personal realm of awareness. And any celebrity famous enough to have entered my awareness probably ceased to be cool years ago.
So why am I writing about celebrities and adoptions? Well, it would seem that celebrities who adopt are pretty big news, because I am usually aware of it happening. Sometimes it seems as though many people’s only experience with adoption is when they hear about a celebrity who has adopted. Whether these celebrities want to be or not, they become de facto adoption representatives to a broader world.
I do not envy celebrity adopters having their every move scrutinized, but it’s hard to get away from the fact that on some level, people do not become celebrities on accident. Usually fame is courted and worked for. It shouldn’t come as a surprise when the celebrity’s family is also then put under the microscope as well. I’m not saying whether this is desirable or should happen, just that it is.
And since celebrities and their families do live in public view, it is not surprising that the adoption process is open to public scrutiny as well. Because of this, the way that celebrities conduct their adoptions really does matter.
The fragile state of international adoptions should surprise no one. If you spend any time at all in this world, you know full well how countries can close without much notice. Sometimes these closures come at the whim of government or as a part of a much bigger game of political chess. More often, these closures come because of mounting ethics violations, with the government realizing that they cannot protect the children for whom they are responsible without some overhaul of the existing adoption practices. Sometimes closures come as a combination of these two things. It is also not a surprise that countries with unstable governments or seriously impoverished citizens are the most likely to suffer from child trafficking disguised as adoption. Money is a very strong lure both to those in power and those in desperate need.
Whether these celebrities want to be or not, they become de facto adoption representatives to a broader world.
To get back to my stated purpose for this article… what is my opinion of celebrity adoptions? My gut reaction is to say, I don’t really care if celebrities adopt or not. Are they going to be good parents? Have they gone through the screening, home study, and education process that all prospective adoptive parents need? Great. Adoption is a viable way to build one’s family. But I can’t stop there, can I? Celebrities who adopt, especially from other countries, have a responsibility to those countries to behave in as ethical and a transparent manner as possible, because people are watching them. The best thing for the children of a country is for every potential adopter to follow the same rules, follow the same guidelines, to not get special treatment. The second someone doesn’t do this, does get special treatment, it bodes ill for the adoption programs in that country. It sends a signal that money can ease the process, which is never a good thing when the lives of children are involved.
In this respect, celebrities are not just like everyone else. Special treatment, bending of rules, paying ‘unpublished fees’ for faster service are all charges that have been levied against celebrity adopters. I don’t know if these are true or not, but boy, I would sure love it if the celebrities in question were to actually be transparent in their adoptions. Celebrities, just like all of us who have adopted from other countries, must try to follow the regulations as best they can in order to help ensure that programs remain open and children who genuinely need families find them, and with the number of eyes watching each celebrity adoption, it is that much more essential.