Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Celebrity Adoption


I was checking the news on CNN's website and was surprised to see the article 'Bullock's adoption of a black baby stirs debate'.  Sandra Bullock is almost universally liked, people really felt for her when she found out ,with the rest of the world, that her husband was unfaithful.  Now we find out that she is the mother of a beautiful baby she adopted 3 months ago.  Isn't this great news?  Apparently it's not that simple.  

When it comes to adoption, certain public responses have become predictable, and I would say almost boring, except for the fact that even though I can predict what some people will say, I still manage to get angry.  So perhaps boring is not the right word.  I read the 'People' article and felt happy that Sandra and Louis found each other....and then I braced myself.  

 I braced myself for the "Well at least SHE adopted from the U.S!"  I still find myself stunned by the  animosity that surrounds international adoption.  One comment to the CNN article, said 'at least people will realize how many babies we have right here who are waiting for families'.  If there were an abundance of babies waiting to be adopted, Sandra would not have waited 4 years after beginning the adoption process to be matched with her baby. If you want to adopt an infant from anywhere, you wait.  It's older children, both domestically and internationally who wait for families. 

I don't understand why so many people are so invested in where an adopted child came from.  It is the weirdest thing to me, that people who are not personally involved in adoption, have such strong opinions of where others adopt from.  It confuses me that people who get steamed that someone didn't adopt from the US and voice grave concerns about all of the children 'right here' that need families, are oddly not moved enough to adopt these children themselves.  As the saying goes, talk is cheap.  There are children all over the world in need of families. No child is more deserving of a family than another, regardless of where they were born.  I am forever grateful that my parents and I found each other through adoption (right here in the US!) and equally grateful that Mikias and Jemberu, who were born in Ethiopia, are our sons.  I defy someone to tell me that they are not  deserving of a family because of where they were born.

The next predictable and irritating comments are about all the celebrities who adopt.   I can think of a handful of celebrities who have adopted.  It really isn't a huge number.  The people who adopt are regular people, and there are a lot of us.  We, along with our children,  in all of our regular every day normal person varieties, are the real face of adoption, not Sandra, Angelina, Meg, Tom or Hugh.  I wish the world would stop judging and forming opinions about adoption by magazine covers.

Finally, the controversy that CNN talks about, white parents raising black children.  There is a lot more to parenting than skin color, but in a perfect world, if all other things are equal, it would be better for black children to be raised by black parents.  I love my boys beyond reason, but it would be easier for them, if we were black.  Right now, they are 6 and 9, and they wished we matched.  It is not fun for them to have our family stared at, for people to wonder if they are ours, or to have a family that doesn't look like the families of their friends.  As they get older, we will continue to talk about race and deal honestly with racism but we don't know what it is like first hand, and that will be a difficult reality for them.  Of course, it is not a perfect world, and a family that doesn't match is better than remaining without a family, whether it is here in foster care or the other side of the world in a orphanage.

On a bright note, in spite of CNN's headline, the vast majority of commenters were not opposed to Bullock's adopting a child of a different race.  The 'controversy' seems to be overstated.  

I (obviously) think about adoption a lot.  In my life, it has been nothing short of a miracle.  I think about my parents and know that, if they had started the adoption process a month earlier or later, I would have grown up an entirely different person, with different parents, siblings and friends.  It all hinges on the perfection of timing.  Sometimes I watch my sons and my heart feels so full it almost hurts, I know that if not for adoption, we would never even know each other, and now I couldn't live without them.  They, along with our daughters, are the best part of our lives.   If that is not a miracle, I don't know what one is.


  1. You match were it counts!!!

  2. You know what? it is all about LOVE Too bad people cannot understand that simple fact! Bradley

  3. I agree, Alison. Race and birthplace should not be the focus, especially of people who are not involved. It might be easier if child, and parent "matched"...but it doesn't always happen like that, and it's not the most important thing. A loving, supportive family is.

    I believe that a child and a parent come together (by birth, adoption, or marriage) the way the universe intended. There's a reason it was "that child" for "that parent". We may not always know what the reasons are, but they exist...and they are important. The opinion of the small minded few never matters in the grand scheme of things...


  4. I think it's wonderful when children and parents find each other, no matter the race, color, or anything else that makes them different. Family is often something more than blood, even if adoption never comes into play.
    I never had to answer questions about race with my foster kids - but I did have to answer questions about sexual orientation and 'how dare I support...' said child for their choices.
    I think a lot of the issues we address in situations where we defend our children and our choices regarding them are like "KRN" stated - they're from the small minded, or the ignorant. If we can teach our kids to not be so, then we've done well.

  5. I appreciate your blog and perspective. I can relate as an adoptee and one who is in the process of pursuing adoption internationally (Ethiopia is a strong possibility for us).

    Your insight into the negative bias about international adoption was enlightening. We haven't personally experienced it yet, but we may encounter it along the way.

    One factor that has driven us to adopt internationally, particularly Ethiopia or another African country, is the multitude of children orphaned by AIDS. Millions of children without parents because of AIDS and many countries unable to care for them. Why would anyone criticize someone for providing a family to children in such need?

  6. Pastor Scott,

    I appreciate your comments and also find the criticism really puzzling. I felt when we prepared to adopted I was ready for anything but the animosity (from some) toward international adoption really took us by surprise.

    It is also cool to me to find another adoptee who is adopting!


  7. " I think about my parents and know that, if they had started the adoption process a month earlier or later, I would have grown up an entirely different person, with different parents, siblings and friends. It all hinges on the perfection of timing." I *really* needed to 'hear' this today. Feeling particularly low as we are just starting the adoption process, and it seems like everyone we need to talk to/ or forms we need to start/ or ANYTHING we need to get done hinges on people being away, waitlists being full, certain courses not being offered... I really needed to remind myself that it really is all in the timing. Although I was doing a tough job of reminding myself, I'm glad you were able to do it for me. Thank you. :)