|Sandra Bullock and adopted son, Louis|
The list of Hollywood adoptive parents goes back to the beginning of the silver screen and includes Bob Hope, Joan Crawford, Joan Fontaine, Constance Bennett, Al Jolson and Ruby Keller, Dick Powell and June Allison, Bette Davis, Cecil B. DeMille, Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman,
Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, Carroll O'Conner, Diane Keaton, Kirstie Alley, Michelle Pfeiffer, Calista Flockhart, Jamie Lee Curtis, Meg Ryan, Sharon Stone, Sheryl Crow, Angelina Jolie, Marie Osmond, Edie Falco, Rickie Martin, Charlize Theron, and many, many others.
"Children in the United States [are] the ultimate consumer item" wrote author and adoptive father Dan Savage in The Kid: What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Go Get Pregnant. For Bullock and other actresses, motherhood would be out of reach if not for adoption. As a 2002 article in US Weekly noted:
Bullock is..."part of a generation of powerful baby-craving female stars...suddenly confronting the dilemmas that have bedeviled American women for decades. When is the right time to have children, and can work and motherhood coexist? In Hollywood, where actresses find their best roles and fattest paychecks in their twenties and thirties, the problem appears particularly acute....Hollywood--where youth and size-0 figures reign [present] a unique set of circumstances. 'The industry values very young, sexy, slim women,' says veteran Los Angeles lawyer Gloria Allred. 'Once an actress becomes pregnant, it's a problem.'"Ironically these women whose bodies bring them fame and fortunes are denied the very thing that their bodies were designed to do--have babies. They are joined by gay performers like Rosie O'Donnell and Paula Poundstone, and others who have adopted multiple children, such as Mia Farrow (9) and Josephine Baker (12).
THEY HAVE MORE MONEY, THUS MORE OTHER PEOPLE'S CHILDREN
Celebrities have an easier time acquiring children than the general population because they have more money. Rosie O'Donnell told People in 2001, "'anyone who has the money to go to a variety of agencies has a better chance of adopting quickly than someone who has a limited budget.'"
The article notes that as she is an outspoken champion of adoption, she speaks with unusual candor--but Rosie is nothing if not outspoken "To locate birth mothers, she says, 'I retained five lawyers, and paid them anywhere from $1,500 to $4,000 each.'" O'Donnell, now 50, has adopted five children, the latest this past January with her second wife, Michelle Rounds. And of course, having money allows stars to arrange adoptions in adoption-friendly states like Utah and Texas.
Further, their celebrity status may increase their chances of attracting mothers-to-be considering adoption. People: "The glamour does rub off and influence birth mothers." (I can relate to how a celebrity can affect you. Though I am hardly a follower of pop culture today, as young woman I was caught up in that mind set. In 1966, after I surrendered my daughter Rebecca in San Francisco, I had a fleeting thought that I should have gone to Los Angeles to have her so that she might have been adopted by a successful entertainer. How foolish we can be.)
Although I know of no studies comparing how the adopted children of celebrities compare with adopted children of non-celebrities, they certainly are confronted with more problems than those of other adoptees: the often messy personal lives of their adoptive parents--multiple marriages and relationships, drug use and alcoholism, long absences due to the nature of their work, constant presence of paparazzi. We see the outcomes in media stories: the suicides of the adopted sons of Marie Osmond and Carroll O'Connor. Memoirs by Joan Crawford's adopted daughter Christina and Ronald Reagan's and Jane Wyman's adopted son Michael about the the struggles of growing up in their adoptive families. Both were sent to boarding schools when they became too old for cute photo-op pictures. Barbara Walter's adopted daughter, Jackie Danforth, discussed her difficulties in growing up in an interview with Jane Pauly. "I never felt like I fit into her [Walters'] world," she said.
Mia Farrow's boyfriend Woody Allen, 56, had an affair with Farrow's 21-year-old adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn. Allen and Soon-Yi later married and have two adopted children themselves. Paula Poundstone was charged with committing a lewd act with a girl under 14 and later arrested for drunken driving while her three adopted and two foster children were in her car. She pleaded "no contest" to felony child endangerment and a misdemeanor charge of inflicting injury on a child in exchange for the lewd acts charge being dropped. All the children were removed from her care; the adopted children were returned to her after she completed an alcohol rehabilitation program.
THEIR CELEBRITY PROMOTES MORE ADOPTIONS
Simply by adopting, celebrities promote adoption as just another way to form a family. Media accounts
of celebrity adoptions are consistently positive. The dark side of adoption is never mentioned. Jamie Lee Curtis, Michelle Pfeiffer, and others use their fame to promote adoption as a good thing. Rosie O'Donnell went even further, creating an outreach program "Rosie Adoptions" in conjunction with New Jersey's Children of the World adoption agency, which she promoted at the end of each of her shows, providing a toll-free number for women considering adoption and prospective adoptive parents. Fortunately her show ended and the toll-free number is no longer in service. With advocacy like that, who is surprised that O'Donnell's brother, Dennis, a member of the New York Legislature, told Lorraine when she was lobbying a bill in Albany, that he would never vote for a bill to that would unsealing adoptee' original birth certificates.
Barbara Walters was also an opponent of unsealed records, and used her media outlets to promote that view in the late Seventies. Lorraine, as well as some of our other readers, may remember the afternoon talk show she had in which she discussed the subject with obvious objections, as a "new" adoptive mother, and in other comments she made to the press over the years. Lorraine and ALMA founder Florence Fisher were invited audience members that day. Both were able to speak, but the overall impact of the show presented openness in adoption as a troubling idea. Decades later, after Walters' daughter found her natural mother--the two are amazingly alike--Walters stopped speaking against open records. But she retained her bias against reunions. A few years ago, she interviewed singer Faith Hill who had recently been reunited with her first mother. Hill told Walters something to the effect that she needed to find her mother to find peace. Walters gave Hill a puzzled look and asked in an innocent voice, "why would finding your birth mother bring you peace.?" Hill answered "I had to know where all that music inside me came from."
Celebrity adoptive parents not only attract media attention, they influence the general public into imagining that adoption is a wonderful thing. Barbara Walters and other adoptive parents who are members of the ABC News team--Tim Johnson, Carole Simpson, Connie Chung and Maury Povich--have done several adoption promotion programs. Chung did a segment on adoption records clearly biased towards keeping the records closed.
Scott Simon of NPR's Weekend Edition wrote a book about adopting two Chinese girls: Baby We Were Meant for Each Other: In Praise of Adoption. He did a book tour sponsored by adoption practitioners. In an interview on NPR, Judy Woodruff, now co-anchor on PBS' New Hour, referred contemptuously to those who questioned certain adoption practices as "anti-adoption." It reminded me of the racists I heard growing up in Chicago in the 1950's who called civil rights activists "n...lovers." When you are on the wrong side, and are blind to the changes that are coming, it appears that people--including new anchors who ought to know better--resort to name calling just like internet bullies.--jane
"Who Wants A Baby?" US Weekly 5/27/2002
"How Stars Find Their Babies" People Weekly 3/5/01
Rosie O'Donnell, wife Michele Rounds announce adoption of new daughter Dakota
Dateline: A Daughter's New Horizon
Scott Simon: Adoption Pimp
Loretta Young's 'adopted' daughter wasn't adopted at all
Why did my mother keep me a secret?
Will NPR Report the Truth about International Adoption? It's legitimated kidnapping in many poor countries
Mommie Dearest With the 20th Anniversary Edition of Mommie Dearest, Christina Crawford becomes one of the only authors in publishing history to re-issue a number one best-seller. "The new edition is published as I intended it. More than 100 pages - mostly that delve into my adult relationship with Mother - that were left out of the original version are back in," said Ms. Crawford. "I've also added eyewitness accounts from people who came forward with information after the book was initially published, a preface to reflect the whirlwind that has happened in my life since Mommie Dearest was first published, and an afterword on adoption reform." When it was released in 1978, Christina Crawford's Mommie Dearest made an indelible impression on America's cultural landscape: it enjoyed 42 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list, spawned a cult film classic based on the book, and placed the issue of family violence in the national spotlight. Issues of family violence brought to light then have yet to be resolved today and the book still stands as a catalyst for change. Christina Crawford is an internationally recognized, best-selling author and advocate for adoption reform, the rights of women and children, and a pioneer in making family violence an issue of national concern.--Amazon (I read it when it came out, thought it was a real page-turner.--lorraine)
Michael Reagan: On the Outside Looking in "Michael Reagan with brutal honesty, and a whole lot guts, tells the gut-wrenching but inspiring story of his much traveled life. From living a childhood that included such traumatic experiences as: being ridiculed for being adopted, being brutally molested by a camp counselor, having his parents divorce,and being constantly switched to different boarding schools, Michael grew up feeling very low about himself, and contemplated suicide on several occasions," --Amazon
Order either by clicking on title or book cover. Thank you. Mommie Dearest, made into a movie with Faye Dunaway, is an interesting and sometimes horrifying read.