Monday, March 30, 2009

Madonna Adoption Raises Questions

Internationally famous pop star and kabbalah devotee Madonna has stirred controversy in the wake of her next intended adoption of a Malawian child. The four year old child, Chifundo "Mercy" James lost her mother shortly after birth. Her father has not been a part of her life. Despite this, her grandmother, aunts and uncles maintain an active interest in her, and are legally contesting Madonna's plans to take her out of the country.

Malawian law requires a prospective adoptive parent to remain in the country for 18 months. Madonna, who is a single parent was set to whisk the child out of the country before the little girl's family stepped in.

Both Chifundo and Madonna's adoptive child David were students at an orphanage school founded by Madonna that is run according to the principles of her kabalistic beliefs. Both children had extended family that were unhappy at losing them.

Sometimes Hollywood fads are annoying to read about, particularly when they dabble into politics. Madonna has been involved in Kaballah for a few years, which is eons by Hollywood standards. I am skeptical of the organisation to which she belongs, which is described as cult like. The organisation does not seem to anchor its devotees to any firm Judaic moral framework.

But there is one trend that I find hopeful. Oprah Winfrey and Madonna have both started schools in Africa, a continent in which millions of children go without an education and in which virulent forms of AIDS blight the populace. The idea that children who might have lived without any hope are now getting a shot at a future is a hopeful sign. It should be noted that mainstream religious denominations have been doing such work for years. Wouldn't it be nice if film stars partnered up with existing denominations to expand an existing base of operations?

Madonna is taking heat for adopting a child with family that still wants them. I feel that it would be far better to keep Chifundo in Malawi, supporting her community and family in efforts to raise her well. Perhaps there are other children who are truly bereft of family. In the congo, Sierra Leone and other hot spots are many children who are the offspring of rape. Some mothers of such children might welcome the entry of adoptive parents into the picture.

Madonna has a way of veering from trashy to spiritual. She has great musical talent that she sometimes misuses. But she is using her wealth to try to make the world a better place. I am critical of some aspects of her adoptions. Despite this, I do not want to criticise her too harshly.

I have only a couple of suggestions. First, she should focus on supporting children in their home environments, through community development and mentoring. If she does adopt, it should be a child mostly bereft of extended family. The children she has adopted so far do not fit this description.

Secondly, Madonna should invite others to participate in her good works, either through monthly donations such as practiced by some Christian charities or through calling on her fans to give to the charities she has founded. If Madonna raises awareness of Africa's suffering and needs, it could well be a lasting legacy. Her good deeds are certainly flawed, but she is making a difference in one small part of a suffering continent. For this, she should be praised. In this, she should be emulated.

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