Lay Off Madonna with the Fake Controversy

Madonna is doing a good thing by adopting, and she also helps the people of Malawi with good works. That doesn’™t stop CNN or Save the Children from trying to stir up a fake controversy. Of course, they think they will get ratings and donations, respectively, if they make an issue out of Madonna’™s next adoption.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Let me preface this with a few statements. #1: I am not a fan of Madonna, so much not a fan that I wouldn’™t blink an eye if they carved ‘œNot a fan of Madonna’™s music’ on my tombstone. #2: The adoption of any child who needs a family is a very good thing, especially when that adoption is by someone who has proven to be a good parent. #3: Poor countries sure do need help. I also want to note that none of those statements are connected in any meaningful way to make a controversy. But on CNN’™s ‘œAmerican Morning’ yesterday, host Kiran Chetry sure allowed Dominic Nutt, representing Save the Children UK, to kick off a faux controversy. Here’™s a little bit from the CNN transcript:

Chetry: You heard Madonna ‘¦ say it’™s no one’™s business. Over the weekend, you came out, though, and urged Madonna to rethink this adoption. What is your biggest concern?

Nutt: Well, our biggest concern is that we believe that in the most ‘” in the majority of cases, orphans, so-called orphans, in fact [are] not orphans ‘” they have at least one parent living ‘” and even those that don’™t, have a wider family that can look after them. And we believe that children in poverty should be best looked after by their own people in their own environment. And that people like Madonna and organizations like Save the Children are best off helping those families by building schools and supporting them to look after these so-called orphans and not transporting them to live across the world in mansions, in pop stars’™ mansions, that sort of thing.

Chetry: Now, Madonna also is doing both, I guess you could say, because she founded that organization, Raising Malawi, right, back in 2006, did a documentary as well, trying to bring attention and money to the plight of the children there.

Nutt: Well, absolutely right. So she’™s obviously accepted the logic of the Save the Children argument, it’™s help children on the ground. If you really do love a child and you want the child to do well, then help them in their own world.

Now, look ‘¦ something like 10 million children a year die across the world because of poverty before the age of 5. You cannot possibly help all those children by moving them.

So, what we’™re saying clearly is not that Madonna is wrong or families and parents or want-to-be parents who do go for international adoption are wrong. But it must be a last resort.

They must make sure there is no family network to support them, and if they don’™t help that child, that child is in peril. The life of that child is in peril. Otherwise ‘¦ you are better off supporting that child in its own environment.

There are some bottom lines here that Save the Children’™s representative, Mr. Nutt, overlooks as he grandstands for a few minutes of face time. Those kids adopted by Madonna and Angelina and the one(s) to be adopted by Cole Hamels (and here) are going to get wonderful advantages they could never have expected int he orphanages where they were previously. That there is the need for orphanages in places like Malawi is sad, and I fully support international support to help ease that difficult situation, but the two issues just are not connected.

jack I am experienced in the world of adoption. That’™s my boy on the left. But lest we dismiss this post as yet another attempt by Steve to post a picture of his undeniably cute little boy, let me discuss adoption for a minute. I was in the world of foreign adoption, with the idea of adopting from Vietnam, for 18 months. We worked with the same agency Angelina Jolie worked with. Every single person I met seeking to adopt from Vietnam was doing so with the deepest, most heartfelt reasons. They wanted a baby and there are babies in Vietnam that needed parents. Unfortunately, Vietnam had irregularities in their processes, and we ended up moving our goal from Vietnamese adoption to open adoption here in the US. Would that it were so simple for everyone.

In the US the majority of domestic adoptions are open adoptions. That means there is ongoing contact between the birth mother and the adoptive family, from a minimum of letter to a maximum of visits. I’™ll be honest and say that nearly every parent who first considers open adoptions at least acknowledges that there can be pitfalls. What if the birth mother finds out where we lives, has second thoughts years later, and tries to take back our child? Hey, there have been enough sensationalized stories out there that we are wary of openness, at least at first. This is not to say that my wife and I are uncomfortable with open adoption, only that we are cognizant of that first reaction. Still, if I were a celebrity, I’™d likely keep that first reaction at the front of my mind. This is a country where celebrities are routinely stalked, and open adoption, as fine an institution as it is for the child, just may be a huge risk not worth taking for a celebrity. They can avoid all that with an adoption in Malawi, or in some other country, by adopting a child whose life otherwise would be bound to an orphanage. To my mind, that answers Roland Martin’™s question about why celebrities aren’™t adopting US kids.

The bottom line here is that there is simply nothing wrong with adopting children whose lives would otherwise be an endless uphill battle, no matter where that adoption originates. This is not a controversy. But it stars Madonna, so CNN wants to cover the non-controversy. They want ratings and Madonna is always good for a few viewers, or so their logic goes. And Save the Children UK always wants donors, so getting Dominic Nutt in front of viewers worldwide is a good thing, even if what he talks about is neither a controversy nor news. Yeah, this isn’™t news, it is gossip and whiney gossip at that. They are finding fault with the fine acts by Madonna in order to get viewers and donations. That is something akin to criticizing Michelle Obama for organic gardening, a good example for the world, but simply not a controversy, nor even news.

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009 by Richard Blair |
Category: Media

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