Yes, unfortunately adoption is trendy.
I am very worried about the consequences of adoption being something stylish, rather than a creation of a family.
(Fact: Ethiopian adoptions doubled following Angelina Jolie’s adoption of her daughter.)
International and transracial adoptions are quickly sweeping over Hollywood. As family that adopted internationally and transracially, I understand the reasoning behind intercountry adoption and embracing a child of any color. However, it has come to my attention the motivation being some of these adoptions is to make the adoption more obvious, as it is a trend. This is frightening for the adopted children if it is true.
Angelina Jolie, Katherine Heigl, Madonna, Sandra Bullock, and Charlize Theron all recently adopted children outside of their race. Some of the adoptions were also international adoptions. I am not questioning the motivation behind the celebrity adoptions. My concern and focus is what this may be doing to our celebrity obsessed society. My three most recent encounters with adoptive parents left me uneasy about celebrity inspired adoptions.
So what is the harm in being inspired by celebrity adoptions? Perhaps nothing. Almost every adoptive parent has a moment or experience that makes the choice to adopt very clear. If that happens to be an interview with Sandra Bullock speaking about her adoption experience, then that is great. What is not okay, is being inspired by Sandra Bullock based on something like the positive attention she has received for adopting a black child. If you are adopting to gain anything more than a family member (clearly, that is not something to take lightly) you are doing it for the wrong reason.
Some people have argued that through this process all of the people doing it to be fashionable would be weeded out because it is so long and strenuous. I completely disagree. If you have enough money, most of the adoption can be taken care of through your attorney with little to no fuss from the prospective adoptive parents. Also, certain countries the wait is much shorter.
A good example of a “bad” adoption is Casey Johnson. She was the heiress of the J&J brand, and adopted a little girl from Kazakhstan. She originally tried to adopt from Cambodia (“inspired” by Angelina Jolie) but the country actually turned her away. However, after another celebrity friend introduced her to her baby from Kazakhstan she was again inspired to adopt. This time the country let her go through. Her daughter soon after adoption was quickly taken away from her, and went to live with her grandparents (Casey’s parents). Casey’s mother was afraid for the little girl’s safety living with her adopted mother. Casey was a drug addict and definitely made some tragic life choices. Sadly, Casey ended up losing her life due to her lifestyle.
It is very unsettling to know the process of adoption is not discerning enough to catch this kind of potential adoptive parent. What we can do is help educate people to the best of our ability the truth of adoption. Hopefully, giving realistic rather than romanticized truths of what each adoptive parent and child may face, will help people debating whether or not to start the process. Yes, adoption is beautiful, but there are definitely different hardships that adoption creates. It is definitely not for every family.
I hope that any potential adoptive parents know:
1. If you are adopting for any other reason than the desire to want another person to be a part of your family, you should stop the process right now and re-evaluate the adoption. If not, that kind of recklessness will put your current family and adopted child in danger.
2. It is something almost anyone can do, but it does not mean everyone should do it.