' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Madonna Maternal Madness: Will the adoptions never stop?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Madonna Maternal Madness: Will the adoptions never stop?

Just a short rant on Madonna today because Ya know, I've had it with these celebrity adoptions that make every teenager and young woman coming down the pike thinking that adopting some infant from a "poor family" or a "poor county" such as Nepal is deserving of some friggen medal. Given the way things are going today, Mary would have been urged to give up her child...as she and Joseph were so very poor--not even a proper bed to be born into. Some better-off family would have adopted Christ and he would not have had to turn water into wine, or feed a thousand with a few loaves and fishes. But I digress.
Filippo Lippi - Madonna and Child with two angels Picture @ Uffizi Gallery, Florence

Filippo Lippi: Picture of Madonna and Child with two angels - <span class=

Each one of these celebrity adoptions sets up a whole chain on other adoptions, and from what we have seen about the corruption in international adoption (which apparently most of the world is oblivious to---like folks, read Mother Jones and its revealing story about kidnapping for hire in India to provide healthy cute infants for Americans; Foreign Policy or, for that matter, FirstMotherForum this past month here and also here and here for a poppin' eyeful about the dark and seemly side of international adoption. And over at Daily Bastardette, Marley has a good blog about the Madonna Madness for Mercy (the girl's name) the Material Girl now wants to... ahem...buy.

Yes, I mean that word. Buy. That is what it comes down to. Madonna will go to Malawi, spend some money there for an orphanage or a school, and then whadda you know, come back with a child! It that isn't filthy lucre in exchange for a baby, then I'm the Queen of Sheba not a poor wretch eking out a living writing.

Friday we will find out if the Material Girl from Michigan (my home state, I am embarrassed to say) gets to take Mercy back to England, over the wishes of her grandmother and other family members..This from USA Today earlier in the week:

Mercy James' grandmother, 61-year-old Lucy Chekechiwa, is reportedly against Madonna's decision to adopt. (Mercy James' single teen mother died at age 18; the girl's father is believed to be alive.)

"Why doesn't this singer pick other children?" she told Britain's The Sun. "It is stealing. I want to go to to court. I won't let her go."

Well, like Wow, Madonna, I know you are promising to dump some money in Malawi, where you got your last child, and yes, probably do some good, but now we have a family member actively asking you not to adopt this little girl. You say you have had your eye on for quite a while--why not pick a kid who doesn't have a family--are they not so cute, do they have problems, are they sickly?

You say your son needs a companion who looks like him, but is this the way to solve that problem? You could bring over a whole village of kids--hell, the whole country is poor, bring them all over to your pad in merry ole England. That is the attitude I sense from the wanna-be adopters who filter through my life in more abundance than I would wish on my enemies: Hey, the family is poor, we are not, so....won't the kid have a better life with us?

Well, maybe not. Being adopted costs a great deal of psychic damage to both the child and her/his mother you have not considered. And note I said "family": the attitude now is that fully formed families with poor kids would be better off letting them go so that the child can have a life with more stuff in it.

I'm still feeling cranky from the Dear Prudence letter over at Slate we've been talking about, which yes, as Mairaine noted, did have some good advice in it. What got me going was the insensitive way it was handled and signed that was so demeaning to the birth mother. And then I heard that The View on ABC had a discussion about the Madonna fracas this morning from a friend whom I've educated about international adoption.(You can see the clip at The View's site--at least we no longer have Loud-Mouth Adopter Number One there, Rauncy Rosie, and that is a blessing, but of course...Elizabeth and others are mostly in favor of letting the kid be taken from her native land. Joy Behar, bless her, had some doubts.)

I was not intending to rant on about Madonna's Maternal Madness, but I couldn't help myself after hearing that it has become topic du jour with way too many people saying, Yeah, girl, you go there and get another kid...Happy April Fool's Day....--lorraine (not so happy)

Look for post from Linda on Friday about her daughter on Facebook. A page she is denied access to, while other family members are not.


  1. I guess I live in a less adoption-loving real world, because what I am hearing from regular folks is that Madonna is disgusting and that she is indeed buying a child. There really is a lot of popular opinion against her, and other celebrities buying one kid after another from other countries. It is so blatant it is backfiring against them, not making them role models for the masses as far as I can see.

    Even people that think adoption is a good thing in general and believe a lot of the adoption mystique are turned off by Madonna who without all that money would be obviously unfit to be given a child.

    I think she is great publicity for our side, not the poster mama for adoption. I bet NCFA privately wishes she would vanish.

  2. I'm commenting on the notion of a child being adopted for "a better life." I have Home in Kolkata with 12 girls, all of whom were or would be rejected for adoption. All are "real" orphans, having lost connection to family and community. Four are severely handicapped. (Actually we did locate mther of one handicapped child and she now visits. It is beautiful.)
    But,all my girls miss their famili, dream about them, long to see them. This is after lives of violence, sickness, murder, suicide, sexual abuse. But they mourn their families and we honor their families. "Make your mother proud!" is what I tell them.
    Others though want them to forget, and say, "But look at what a good life you have now. Mummy is here. you have food and clothes and good schooling." What they don't realize is that any normal child would trade that all in for a chance to be reunited! And my kids are totally normal in that way. What they really yearn for is to see their famillies, but live here -- and of couse to have their siblings here too.

    The point, that kids understand the value of fmaily and love and committment, and care more about these factors than "material goods" or even food.

  3. Incidentally, when Michelle mentions Kolkata...she is talking about India, where she cares for 12 girls. Now that is true giving and caring for the orphans of the world.

  4. It's not the birth in the manger that identifies Mary and Joseph as poor (that was because there was no room at the inn), but rather Mary's offering of two doves instead of a lamb when she underwent purification rites at the temple 40 days after Jesus' birth.
    I just have to point this out, because it reminds me of the fact that when I was at the home for unmarried mothers in 1962 I was obliged to be "churched" (see The Churching of Women) against my will. According to the matron I was the only person ever to have objected - which I find very hard to believe. Except that probably most of the young women didn't have any idea what it was about. The bitch tore a strip off me for making a fuss, and said it would only add to my parent's pain if I didn't agree to get 'done'.

    The other thing is, although Jesus' family was poor, they were not destitute. Joseph had a trade. I would imagine they were just 'normally' poor for the times.

    As for Madonna, she's insatiable and she sucks.
    Her cultish weirdo Kabbalah group is very fishy indeed.

    Michelle, you are amazing :-)

  5. First thing, Michelle, you are doing wonderful work. I am so pleased to hear about it with so much bad news in the world today. You are truly saving children, and not at the cost of their heritage.

    Kippa, I looked up "Churching of Women"...fascinating! Was it an Anglican Church? I am Catholic and never heard of this done in modern times. From what I've read which is just a little, I think I would have liked the ceremony after my first child. At least the church would be acknowledging that I had a child, was a mother, that someone was glad I survived childbirth:-) At the time, I was not glad at that. Or have I misunderstood something?

    Yes, besides all the other things wrong with Madonna, her Kabbalah group is suspicious. It is looked on as a cult by real Jews. I read somewhere that Madonna's "Raising Malawi" school was to teach the Kabbalah cult teachings to Malawi kids! Yeah, they really need that!She should be ridden out of that country on a rail, not given yet another kid to own.

  6. The home was in South London, and seems to have been inter-denominational. Anyway, it was run by the Fellowship of St. Michael and All Angels (now St. Michael's Fellowship).
    In fact, I have just found out via google that they've just published a book summarizing the fellowship's history!
    " 'The History of St Michael's Fellowship : From the Rescue of Fallen Women to the Support of Vulnerable Families'. The book charts the story of this voluntary organisation and throws light on some of the biggest social changes of the 20th Century - particularly ideas about the family, pregnancy, motherhood, illegitimacy and adoption."
    Could be interesting. But somehow I think I'll give it a miss.

    Because I knew the bible better than most, I associated "churching" with purification rites (Leviticus 12:2-8 s) and I resented that aspect of it very much indeed.

    Even the association with thanksgiving didn't make much sense to me, because I knew the reason that I was there was to have my son taken from me. It was one of those homes where the mother remained with her baby for six weeks after the birth before handing him over to the adoption association.
    The church was indeed acknowledging the fact that I had had a child, but OTOH it was that same church that was denying my motherhood. Schizophrenic, really.

    And of course, it was another of those situations that engender feelings of powerlessness. Like, 'Do what you're told and get yourself damn churched, girl. And hold your tongue about it. It's not as if it's about you.'

  7. I do not hold back when I express my disgust for Angelina Jolie, Madonna and other collectors of exotic children. Friends and acquaintances always protest, insisting that these celebrities are doing a noble thing, giving the children a better life, etc. This gives me an opportunity to send them articles to the contrary and enlighten them. It doesn't always work, but I am determined.

  8. In general, the tide seems stronger and colder against Madonna even with fans like moi. You'd have to be downright ignorant to have a discussion about international adoption these days without avoiding the serious questions. Unless you want to be Bonnie Fuller and turn the issue into a rant about M's right to wear a Chanel sweatsuit while orphan-shopping.

    I do have a theory about heritage and culture. Heritage is a genetic given never to be replaced by anything else. Culture, on the other hand, is a living thing. Once a child travels away from his or her place of origin, the child gains a new culture. Adoptive parents cannot give to a child the child's culture of origin, although they may claim to do so with the infamous F's (food, fashion, festivals, etc. Ick). "What are you doing about *her culture*?" was my social worker's question at the sixth month visit. My answer, nothing, because I'm not capable of it, despite my non-stop awe of/babbling on about China. The act of adoption shifted my kid's cultural identity forever. I can see why some adoptees call it hijacking, but culture just is--it binds to human choices and doesn't have to be the unbroken line of inheritance that is heritage. God forbid that it ought to be.

    I did insist my daughter keep her citizenship. So unlike most international adoptees, she is not a citizen of the country where she lives; she remains a citizen of China.

  9. "You'd have to be downright ignorant to have a discussion about international adoption these days without avoiding the serious questions."

    I think so too. The trouble is, such people exist.
    I think how often one meets them depends very much on the circles in which one moves. My friends (Madonna-as-icon fans included) are definitely *not* approving of the spirit of celebrity-style international adoption, and are skeptical - if not outright disapproving - of Madonna's behavior. However, I do think many people remain genuinely ignorant, and consequently are easily bedazzled by the kind of sentimental schmaltz touted by celebrity publicists. I've talked to a few who still think international adoption is way wonderful, and they are alarmed and confused to hear anything to the contrary.

    The trouble is, the Madonna savior-holy-benefactress schtick is the polar opposite of the evil-colonialist-child-kidnapper schtick, and neither is really useful in terms of beginning to understand the problems of children without families and people who want to parent. And that's not even considering the international aspect.

    I think your theory about heritage and culture is very solid :-)
    Makes sense to me.

    Do you think the fact that your daughter has retained her Chinese citizenship and doesn't have Canadian citizenship could cause her problems in the future?

  10. I don't know how it works in Canada, but in the US some adoptees whose parents never got citizenship for them were deported as adults when they got in some minor trouble with the law. Also, here it would cause all sorts of misery with obtaining a passport, driver's license etc. In the US this would be a risky thing to do.

    As to culture vs. genetic heritage, yes they are different things, but losing one's ethnic culture is also a loss that can echo through generations, as many immigrants and their descendants can testify. One culture does not just painlessly replace another in the long run, especially when it is drummed into the immigrant that the replacement North American largely WASP culture is superior to their native culture.

    I am the granddaughter of European immigrants to America, and the sadness of loss of culture has echoed through four generations of my family in many ways. The melting pot was not all it was cracked up to be. For an international adoptee, they have lost even more. It is not a trivial thing.

    No, you can't replicate Chinese culture, but I don't think doing "nothing" about it will serve your daughter well in the long run either.

    I don't know how much good things like culture camps and ethnic food do for adopted kids, but at least it shows some respect for their culture of origin, for what has been lost as well as what has been gained.

  11. Mairaine, I am not a stupid adoptive parent though when I read some of your posts, I think you believe there is no other. You seem to assume that most adoptive parents think their culture is superior. You expect other people to understand your viewpoint yet you routinely accord adoptive parents zero respect. Trust me, I've noticed.

    I do nothing because I don't need to do it consciously; it's the pattern of everyday life. We live in a city (Toronto) where more than 100 languages are spoken. More than half the population of 5.5 million is immigrant. The immigration story here is not without the pain of adjustment, discrimination, or racism but it is successful story overall. My daugher has introduced me to more Asian culture through meeting her friends--currently, one from the Philippines, one Uzbeck-Korean, and one Japanese (and that's just one school year)--than I could ever muster by dressing her up like a China doll.

    Eventually citizenship will be my daughter's choice. My parents were landed immigrants their whole lives because we shuttled back and forth between the United States and Canada for many years and then my parents finally chose to settle in their adopted country, Canada, while remaining proud Americans. The same story could unravel for my daughter, I suppose. I'll let her decide. It's a big pain to maintain her citizenship. When we go to the Chinese consulate for renewal of the passport, barely any English is spoken and the forms are all in Chinese. Getting the appointment to review the US visa to travel to the States is no small feat either. Yet my daughter is proud to carry that passport and all her documentation. Last time I spoke to a Canadian citizenship agent about Simone, he understood where I was coming from. I don't believe we're in any imminent danger and, in fact, I hear that some countries are pushing to make this a requirement of IA as well.

  12. Wow! And I thought I was one of the more moderate birth mothers. I do not think all adoptive parents are stupid, nor am I opposed to all adoption. I don't know where you got that idea.

    I do not accord adoptive parents who deserve respect "zero respect." Unlike a lot of mothers, I do not call you all "adopters" feel you are false parents, or think all adopted children were stolen or would have been better off with their birthfamilies. But some certainly would. I have quite a few adoptive mothers among my friends, and no, I do not consider them stupid.

    I don't know you at all, was just responding to your comments here about culture and citizenship.

    No, I'm not a Madonna fan, never was, and think what she is doing is horrid, and say so. But she is not all adoptive parents.

  13. If that's the case, then I spoke out of turn. My apologies, and I am glad to hear of it. It is difficult, however, to hear constantly that a-parents are failing when it comes to culture since the culture issue is going to be particular to each family in its community. It's not as though people don't think of these things.

  14. You did make a mistake, Osolo, but I can see why there could be confusion given that there is so much indiscriminating (IMO) negativity directed towards adoptive parents of any ilk.

    Mairaine is absolutely right to describe herself as moderate. In fact I'd go even further and say that she's both objective and fair, as well as being a woman of wit and integrity.
    Which isn't of course, to say that she doesn't hold strong opinions about certain adoption related issues. But don't we all?

    My own ideas about the loss of ethnic culture and what an adoptive parent can best do, more closely mirror your own. I do not believe that an anxiety ridden effort, however well intended, by an adoptive parent to heal the loss of cultural identity would necessarily be helpful. In fact I think it could in some cases even be counter-productive, especially if it was merely about trappings and lacked human depth.

    I didn't hear you saying that cultural identity didn't matter. What I heard was that you are very aware of the cultural disconnect felt so acutely by many international adoptees. And that your way of 'empowering' your daughter is to enable her to take pride in the Chinese part of her identity through the retention of citizenship and the freedom to chose when she is ready. I think that kind of respect is more conducive to self-actualization than being subjected to an artificial regime that often bears little relation to reality.

    I know it's not really comparable, but as a first generation immigrant myself, I am very aware that the Wales of my imagination bears little or no resemblance to the place where I was raised - which has changed, changed utterly since I was a child. And indeed that most of the icons of Welshness that move the public imagination are mere sentimental nineteenth century reconstructions that amount almost to pastiche.

  15. Mairaine, I do apologize again. Sometimes my buttons get pushed and I simply react. In looking over your posts, I couldn't quite figure out why I blew up. No excuses there. I suppose first mothers wonder why someone like me would even be posting here, but most forums for adoptive parents bug the hell out of me and I learn a lot here despite the negativity. But it is your forum, after all.

    Kippa, thank you for your comments. On my father's side we're largely immigrants or children of immigrants in our extended family and our stories are intimately tied to being American or Canadian or sometimes crossing back and forth between the two. My advice to parents going for IA would be to move if your community lacks any substantive connections to your child's culture. Get to know some people who hail from the same place as your child. Become friends with them. If you have to settle for food and fashion because of where you live, travel now and then to a place where that culture really lives. But food and fashion are not culture; they are consumer goods.

  16. Apology accepted and I understand better now what you both meant by "culture". What I was reacting to was more things I had heard from adult Asian adoptees and Black adoptees about being raised in families where the racial and cultural difference was just ignored, and often where they were the only child of that race in their school.

    Also, my personal experience of reconnecting with ancestral culture was somewhat different. My Irish grandfather's family had kept in touch with my father and his family for many years, and ten years ago I had the opportunity to visit them.

    My second cousins still live on the farm in Galway my grandfather came from, still raise sheep and cattle, still attend the same little church, and the house my grandfather was born in is still there, a shed to store peat for the stove.

    Some Irish is still spoken in the area, and my dad's cousin's widow remembered a whole village decimated by the famine that still stood as a ghost town when she was a child. She told me the story of Brigid, my grandfather's sister, who went first to America, worked as a maid until she had enough money to send for her brothers, then went back to Athenry and married a local fellow. She showed me a tea cup from a set Brigid had brought as part of her dowry from America

    My cousin gave me a piece of petrified wood he had dug from the bogs and polished, and I got to visit ancestor's graves. It was a profoundly moving experience. Not 19th century sentimentality, but the real thing.

    Another piece of my experience from my mother's side of the family was losing one of my first languages, Polish, which I spoke fluently at age 4 and lost by the time I was seven, partially because of being ashamed of seeming "foreign" in the 50s.

    Hope this makes it a little clearer where I was coming from.

  17. Yes, that makes it much clearer, thanks.
    It was rather cavalier of me to put forward my own experience and expect it to make sense.
    It is one thing to have a connection, however tenuous, to one's family and cultural identity, and quite another to have none at all. As is the case for many adoptees, whose historic and cultural roots were torn from them along with their genetic origins.

    I think Osolo has the right idea when it comes to fostering cultural connections through living friendships.



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