2006-10-18

Woman Adopts Child

Madonna Ciccone has jumped on the bandwagon of celebrity adoption of African children. While I honestly do not appreciate her music nor acting and the trendiness of this adoption is easily mocked, I greatly respect the act of adopting an orphan child. Moreover, I will go so far as to say that given the millions of orphans and the huge income discrepancies between the developed and undeveloped world, adoption of orphans from poor countries by typical families from wealthy countries is a moral imperative. If Madonna fans begin to seriously consider doing this themselves this adoption and the surrounding media hype will be a very positive development for humanity.

2 comments:

Mark said...

I just wonder what will become of this Malawian child! I think the orgies and the coke parties might come as a shock...

Personally, in my Peace Corps experience I have met prospective parents who came to Kazakhstan to adopt children. In one case a couple came all the way (the long way) from Hawaii in the hopes of adopting a baby girl who needed first-world surgery on her abdomen in order to fix a disorder related to her late mother's alcoholism. The man was from New Zealand and the woman was from Germany, so honestly I really have nothing to say against this prospective adoption.

But all the same I do feel uneasy at the process as a whole. It smacks a little of buying slaves from slaveowners in order to give them freedom: it solves the immediate problems of some individuals, but doesn't address the underlying causes and might actually make them worse. Orphans adopted from developing countries will definitely have a higher material standard of living, as well as access to better healthcare and education, but its not really removing the global slum.

Moreover, there are the social and psychological issues. Many countries feel hurt pride at people (especially Americans) coming, adopting children and then assimilating those children into the host culture. Little Natalya from Russia, say, will not speak Russian nor know anything about her country and will just be another Amerikanka (Russia especially feels really strong on this). The psychological problems come from the fact that assimilated children really are never totally assimilated, and if they lose their roots will feel even more isolated and rootless in this world. Jean Chretien, the former PM of Canada, faced this problem when he adopted a First Nations child, who grew up and still fell into a life of crime and substance abuse. He may have been raised as a white, middle class Canadian, but of course could never really be one.

So while I think for the truly desperate and unwanted children, a careful matching with willing foster parents is better than potential death, I think international adoption really needs to be rethought, and if people want to help these children then they should do more for their home countries as a whole.

Pace said...

Mark,
You have some salient points and an enlightened perspective on the issue. I agree that it is suboptimal in many ways to adopt a child and remove all attachment with their culture of origin. I think psychology really depends on the parents and how they were treated pre-adoption. It is true too that too many Western adoptive parents simply want to mold the child to be just like them, with no regard for preserving language and such which is a terrible disservice, but as you point out, far better than leaving the child to a life of poverty and neglect.

An optimal adoptive solution would be by adoptive parents with some real connection to the culture whence they adopted, especially a linguistic connection, with the potential to send the child back some day to contribute positively and at high income to the original economy.

I think you are spot on with regard to the buy the slaves to free them analogy. However, a freed slave, who appreciates what has been done for them and has a will to help those whence they came can be a very powerful force for development or change. St. Patrick comes to mind, but I am sure there are better examples; he converted the pagans and ultimately brought an intellectual and cultural connection to the rest of Europe, but the modern day equivalent would be an industrialist or some such.