There is a surreal swirl of cynicism around Madonna for adopting a boy from Malawi. After picking my jaw up off the floor, I am left with this question: When did we become such an angry country?
First, a disclaimer: I like most of Madonna’s music and quite a few of her messages, as I am drawn to people who push the envelope.
So of course I have been following the story about her adoption of a little boy named David and I can’t help cringing at the pettiness of people (and yes, some of them are members of the media). Madonna has been accused of using her wealth to expedite the adoption of the child, of being “picky” and of having ill intent.
What seems to be getting lost in all the madness is the welfare of the child. There are many, many children in this world who need a good home. By adopting one of them, Madonna isn’t taking the same opportunity away from anyone else. It’s not like a well-to-do person whose name is put at the top of the organ transplant list, thus robbing a middle- or lower-class individual of that organ. There are only so many organs to go around. Sadly, it’s a whole different story with children – there are plenty.
I know a few people who have gone through, are going through or are contemplating going through the arduous process of adopting a child from another country. It is emotional turmoil, seemingly never-ending paperwork, a sure test of a couple’s desire to have a child. Understand that I am not making light of those situations here. Some are motivated by a deep yearning to parent, others by a deep yearning to give a child a new lease on life or a combination of the two. But even if a couple has been diligently going through all the proper channels and is riddled with suspense and exhaustion, isn’t it “right thinking” to rise above that frustration when you hear a story like Madonna’s and be heartened that another child has been given a chance at life when so many are dying?
What this public hoopla is lacking – save for Oprah Winfrey and her audience, it seems – is the pro-child voice. Shouldn’t we want what’s best for all the unfortunate children who have been born into disease or poverty or loneliness above all else? Above our own need to be a parent. Above our own knee-jerk disdain for people who happen to earn more money than us. Above our dislike of the personality who did the adopting. A child who has pneumonia has a home. His father said he would have wound up burying him. Didn’t anyone else hear this when Madonna talked to Oprah this week?
Incidentally, it boggles the mind how in all of this some people are taking potshots at Oprah in a gleeful 2-for-1 bashing. What better sport than to criticize two self-made wealthy women simultaneously? Perhaps we need to develop our emotional intelligence. It’s not news that a person with more money than another can live in a bigger house, drive a snazzier car, take more exotic vacations. That’s life. We’re adults. Ideally, we make our way, learn, get stronger.
There is such a sense of entitlement in this country. Everyone wants what everyone else has. Everyone has something to say about what everyone else has. So much so that this Madonna story has became a spectacle in the court of public opinion. She has been called “picky” for selecting this child. Geez, I spend a few minutes choosing just the right head of lettuce in the grocery store. Can’t a person adopt a child she’s drawn to?
Plus there’s a whole camp questioning Madonna’s motives. A woman decided to take a child who might not live through his fifth birthday into her home and give him a real chance to thrive in the world. She had the means. She had the opportunity. She had the love.
How awful. Let’s nail her to a cross.