Celebrity Transracial Adoptions - Can We Move On, Please?
By lainad on February 26, 2009
BlogHer Original Post
The day after the Academy Awards, the morning news programs were abuzz with the news that the movie Slumdog Millionaire walked away with eight awards, including Best Picture. Since I have an uncomfortably large amount of time these days to watch morning TV, I happened to catch the 'let's make fun of the single, desperate for a man, childless woman with the weird name' show on NBC (seriously, are these two friends off camera?) Hoda Kotb and Kathy Lee Gifford discussed the child actors from the movie who were flown in from India to walk the red carpet.
The kids, all whom, according to reports, lived in abject poverty, were excited, getting autographs from the stars and having fun. Gifford, not known for her tact, remarked that since Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were there, they should just adopt the kids. "It's easy for them, since the kids are already here," she sneered. "They can just pick them up and take them home." And of course, Kotb remained silent with this uncomfortable look on her face.
This observation, along with the recent relevation (to me, anyway) during Barbara Walter's Oscar show that Oscar host Hugh Jackman and his wife have adopted two 'mixed-race' children got me thinking. Jackman mentioned that apparently kids with mixed cultural / racial backgrounds are not that popular among prospective adoptive parents. Other celebrities have adopted children from other ethnicites outside of their own, and there has been little fanfare - mostly because they are not deemed as media attention worthy. Because they do not share the genealogy of their uber-attractive, rich and talented parents, no one cares.
For some reason, Gifford's not well thought out comment irked me. When will the Jolie-Pitt's stop being the brunt of jokes? Not really being a regular observer of popular culture in general, I couldn't really care less about them, but it seems very hypocritical of people who judge them when there are so many abandoned children in the U.S who cannot find homes.
Nadya Suleman - you know, the woman who has been referred to with the offensive moniker 'Octo-Mom' - whom while being a bit off-kilter, is now faced with the possibility that Child Services might take her eight children away. But will the kids, who are not 100% Caucasian, be able to be adopted?
Now Jolie is being blamed for Suleman's penchant for having multiple children:
Was Suleman emulating Jolie? Maybe, in her mind. This morning rumors of letters Suleman supposedly sent to Jolie surfaced and, despite Suleman's denial, it does appear that she has undergone certain medical procedures that have given her a few features remarkably similar to Jolie's. All of which is fascinating and makes Suleman appear even more freakish than we'd thought, but in no way implicates Angelina Jolie. Because if Angelina didn't exist, something -- or someone -- else would have pushed Suleman down her path to parental excess. Angelina may have been a fuse, but Suleman was a firecracker waiting to go off and any fuse would have done the job.
For some reason, though, Pitt and Jolie have always faced some consternation about their decision to have a large family. I think that in some ways, maybe they wouldn't face as much criticism if Jolie was unable to have children and choose to adopt instead. But since they have had three kids of their own after adopting three children, people are shaking their heads in confusion. Why the hell would you adopt if you can have kids of your own?
Because my parents, who had two kids of their own and then chose to adopt a bi-racial child (my older sister) and later me, and then gave birth to my little sister, I understand the confusion of well-meaning family members and acquaintances all too well. Why bother to adopt?
Yes, situations arise through transracial cultural adoption that to outsiders a bit skeptical. What happens if you unwittingly adopt the child of a psychopath? A child with severe developmental or physical problems? However, one issue that no one seems to publicly question is the cultural awareness. How will the Jolie-Pitt's educate their children on the cultural ethnicity? I have a feeling that there will be few problems in that area.
On the other hand, Tom Cruise's son Conor, whom is bi-racial might face some issues. In a famous interview with Oprah (who was so starstruck that she didn't tell him off about this when she had the chance), Cruise seemed to avoid the question - or perhaps didn't even factor in that his son was a different ethnocultural background than him. In some ways, race does not - or should not play a factor in loving your child, but this is the real world and it is probably better to have that 'talk' Mr. Cruise - with your son before the real world schools him.