An Indian Adoptee Reclaims His Voice in the Desi Diaspora
Show MenuHide Menu

Elton John and Celebrity Adoptions

October 9, 2009

Once again another celebrity is getting into the adoption game. This time it’s 62 year old Elton John. Ugh. Great. Is this really necessary? A number of people want to know my thoughts about celebrity adoption, you are about to hear them.

One of my biggest concerns with celebrity adoptions is the ease and speed in which they are conducted. While ordinary people wait many months, even years to receive a child, celebrities go through paperwork in a matter of weeks. It’s patently unfair to those who have gone through proper channels and have waited excruciating amounts of time to be passed up on the list just because someone is well known. Why should a famous person get a child through adoption any faster? If anything it should be a MUCH slower process for them. What kind of home study was going on for Madonna and Angelina Jolie? What social workers were looking into their households to determine if they were fit to adopt a child? I would think they never had to deal with that intrusion on their lives. Shouldn’t there be due diligence done on them, as there is for the rest of the adopting world?

Celebrities should have their ability to raise a child scrutinized even further than a non famous couple or parents. Who thinks a child that grows up in a celebrity house is going to be any better adjusted than a child who goes to a regular family situation? To me it’s almost a laughable question. Not only will they be pampered and live in a world most of all will never know, their parents by the mere fact they are celebrities have a much greater likelihood of not being involved in their lives. If the child is going to be raised by a number of high priced au pairs, and servants, while their parents have minimal contact with them, how is that beneficial to the child?

Adoption is already a complex emotional process. There is no need to add the burden of fame and being in the spotlight to a child who is desperately trying to fit in with their new family.

Some may say, being adopted by a celebrity is great, because they will never have to worry about material possessions and will live a life “better” than anyone could imagine. Yes, eventually they may be wealthier according to Western standards of consumption. For sure; they will be able to have all the toys in the world, and will almost certainly be able to do whatever they want with their lives, as money will be no object. But are those reasons enough to justify a celebrity adoption? In my view no amount of money or material possession could ever take the place of love, a sense of belonging, and acceptance of that child as your own which parents can bestow. All the opportunities and riches are great, but if you don’t feel loved and wanted, what good is all the rest?

One of the biggest issues I have with anyone who adopts a child internationally is their future plan to help that child get in touch with their birth culture. I don’t think anyone should adopt a child from another country if this is not the case, celebrity or otherwise. Now tell me, what are the chances that celebrities not only will value the birth culture of their children, but will give them the opportunity to explore it? From what I’ve read, they want to “Americanize,” their children as soon as possible. Essentially erase connections of their children’s former lives from adoption onward. That’s patently wrong.

International adoption should never be an “it” thing to do. That some people look at a foreign adopted babies as the newest “thing” to have disgusts me. Children are not a trendy accessory in order for you to feel better about yourself, or to feel like you can keep up with Angelina and Brad. I’m talking about a child. A living, breathing human who I feel in some cases is being bandied about in a game of one-upmanship and used to show off a higher social status. I realize not all famous people view internationally adopted children this way, but I fear some do.

So far I’ve only discussed the effects on the children and society, while not touching on the effects celebrity adoption has on the orphanages and societies where the children are born. First off, it seems to me that bringing high visibility to orphanages is a double-edged sword. On one hand I am glad that the plight of some many of the world’s abandoned and orphaned children goes to the forefront of national news. On the other, adopting a child may lead many mothers in less developed countries to put their children in orphanages in the futile hopes that their child too will be picked up by a famous person in the Western world.

While international adoption’s existence can be debated, and I will discuss that in a later post, I believe countries should be working with parents and families to help keep everyone together. Giving your child for adoption should be one of your last options. I would love to see a world someday where the structural failings of a society no longer existed, in order for international adoption to cease. But that world is utopian and never coming. In the meantime I’d like to see governments and other institutions which work closely with families help developing nations understand the importance of keeping their children with their birth parents. Celebrities have clout with other governments and NGO’s because of their humanitarian beliefs, and money. Could they use that political currency to help address the underlying social situations which make adoption neccessary?

I realize I have made some sweeping generalizations, but the topic gets me fired up. What do you all think? This is an issue that I’ve heard discussed from adopted and non –adopted people and everyone seems to have an opinion on it, I want to hear yours.

October 9, 2009 at 9:54 pm

I think for the most part you are right and it is a very complex matter. One thing you did not touch on is something that is personal to me. What about single parents adopting children? what about the interracial issues? what about gay parents adopting? and what about a single parent who is gay adopting and interracial child?

Whether welfare and love, or self-interest — or some of each — are motivational factors behind celebrity adoptions, there is no denying the stars’ actions are influencing others. In fact, the popularity of adoption among celebrities has been credited with helping to broaden the general public’s definition of what constitutes a desirable adoption. That includes looking beyond the comparatively limited prospects for finding notoriously high-in-demand, healthy white infants do maybe there is some good that’s coming out of this.

March 8, 2011 at 2:31 pm

ABSOLUTELY AGREE 100%!!!!!!! Keep it up AJ!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.