Madonna vs. Angelina adoption smackdown

News flash to Madonna: Telling David Letterman that you and your husband were “basically creating the laws as we went” when adopting a baby boy from Malawi is probably not going to earn you a lot of sympathy. I’m going to have to agree with Angelina on the need to stay on the side of ...

604860_madonna_letterman_05.jpg
604860_madonna_letterman_05.jpg

News flash to Madonna: Telling David Letterman that you and your husband were "basically creating the laws as we went" when adopting a baby boy from Malawi is probably not going to earn you a lot of sympathy. I'm going to have to agree with Angelina on the need to stay on the side of the law when it comes to international adoption:

Madonna knew the situation in Malawi, where he was born," [Jolie] says. "It's a country where there is no real legal framework for adoption. Personally, I prefer to stay on the right side of the law. I would never take a child away from a place where adoption is illegal." 

That said, I do think Madonna is getting something of a bad rap on this. Her critics are no doubt getting mileage today out of the fact that she said more people should adopt from Africa. But let's take her statement at face value. More people should adopt orphaned children from Africa—as long as there are proper frameworks in place to verify that kids aren't being exploited. But there are children in needs of homes everywhere, not just in Africa.

News flash to Madonna: Telling David Letterman that you and your husband were “basically creating the laws as we went” when adopting a baby boy from Malawi is probably not going to earn you a lot of sympathy. I’m going to have to agree with Angelina on the need to stay on the side of the law when it comes to international adoption:

Madonna knew the situation in Malawi, where he was born,” [Jolie] says. “It’s a country where there is no real legal framework for adoption. Personally, I prefer to stay on the right side of the law. I would never take a child away from a place where adoption is illegal.” 

That said, I do think Madonna is getting something of a bad rap on this. Her critics are no doubt getting mileage today out of the fact that she said more people should adopt from Africa. But let’s take her statement at face value. More people should adopt orphaned children from Africa—as long as there are proper frameworks in place to verify that kids aren’t being exploited. But there are children in needs of homes everywhere, not just in Africa.

FP‘s current issue takes an in-depth look at trends in international adoption around the world: the costs, the sending and receiving countries, and the restrictions that many countries place on the adopting parents. Some countries even prohibit parents over a certain weight to adopt a child.

While Madonna certainly needs to rethink some of her rhetoric on adoptions, Angelina Jolie may not be the greatest role model, either. Rumor has it that the Seattle agency through which she adopted baby Maddox from Cambodia in 2002 was later convicted of visa fraud and money laundering.

But let’s cut Madonna and Angelina a break. These two famous women have done wonders in making adoption fashionable. Their stumbles should simply be lessons for others, not discouragement.

Carolyn O'Hara is a senior editor at Foreign Policy.

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