Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Should These People Be Allowed to Adopt from Ethiopia?
I know, I know, before I even open this can of worms, someone is going to remind me that I didn't have to pass any tests or prove my worth before I became a mother. And it's true, the burden of proof imposed upon adopting parents is high, but sometimes, just sometimes you have to wonder if some people really should be allowed to raise someone else's children.
Case in point, recently Sports Illustrated magazine ran a cover story on "The Fabulous New Life" of Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels. Included in this fabulous life of fame, wealth, and a lovely wife who is a former contestant on Survivor, a one-time Playboy model and a publicity whore (and I mean that in a technical way. I used to be a PR whore when I worked as a publicist in NYC. It's not a job I enjoyed and felt dirty every day.), is a plan to adopt a child from Ethiopia. And not just any a child, but an "AIDS orphan." Why? According to Hamel's wife Heidi, it's "the right thing to do." She elaborated on their plans in the article.
"We're in the process of adopting an AIDS orphan from Ethiopia," she said. "Maybe two. I'm so pumped. I'd adopt six if I could. When I was five years old—I grew up in a very rural town in Missouri, and I had never even seen a black person—they asked us to draw a picture of ourselves in the future, and I drew myself holding hands with a line of tiny black stick figures. I've always wanted this." She and Cole are also preparing, under the auspices of the fledgling Hamels Foundation, to build a girls' school in Malawi. Heidi has made a couple of monthlong research trips there. "We're not just doing it because it's the Brad and Angelina plan, but because we're in the position to do it and it's the right thing to do," she said.
For some reason, that just creeps me out. How could anyone use the word "pumped" in relation to children who have been orphaned because of a horrible disease? What's more, is a woman who admits she never knew any Black people growing up, but liked to draw black stick figures, really ready to face the challenges of rearing a child of color in the United States? Shouldn't somebody call Ethiopia or something and warn them of this impending disaster? Or am I being too harsh? I don't think Hamels and his wife are bad people, and I think it's amazing that they are committed to trying to help those most in need, but maybe they should concentrate their efforts on building that school, instead of adopting 6 orphans. Or maybe they could spend some of their money sponsoring a child in Ethiopia, instead of bringing them to Philadelphia. Not everyone has to adopt a child to show they care. There are so many ways to make a difference.
In situations like these, you want to say their hearts are in the right place, but Lord knows, that is not nearly enough to deal with a child of another race, from a different culture, with a potentially fatal disease that comes with its own set of stigmas. It really just isn't enough. Thoughts? Would you sign off on this couple adopting an Ethiopian child with AIDS?
p.s. If you'd like to read the entire SI article, you can read it here.