There are one thousand good reasons to adopt and only a few bad reasons to adopt:
Bad adoption idea #1: adopting a child in order to put their nimble little fingers to work.
Bad adoption idea #2: adopting a child in order to make another person jealous.
Bad adoption idea #3: adopting a child so you could be his or her saviour.
There is a thin line between helping other people and becoming their saviour. And sometimes when we discuss transnational adoption, that saviour complex comes bubbling to the top. And when it pokes its head out of the jumbled soup that is parenthood, it makes me worried. For that child and for that parent.
I don't know Madonna and Guy's motives for adoption--I'm not in their head or in their family. I don't know the intimate details of how the adoption took place or what was said to the birth father or what thoughts ran through Madonna's head when something that smelled vaguely like the starting words of an adoption reversal took place. I don't know how deeply invested they are in the life of this child or what kind of childcare they're giving him. I don't know if Madonna makes her kids breakfast in the morning or leaves all nightly tuck-ins to the nanny.
I can't throw stones because I live in a glass house where I'm considering transnational adoption as well. What I can comment on is something she said during her Oprah interview: "To see what I saw. It is a state of emergency. As far as I'm concerned, the adoption laws have to be changed to suit that state of emergency. I think if everybody went there, they'd want to bring one of those children home with them and give them a better life."
And that's what I mean by the saviour complex. Avonlea has a wonderful post about race and adoption as well as class and adoption. She asks difficult questions about adoption and poverty--whether we are more uncomfortable discussing class and poverty in regards to adoption than even race and nationality. And Madonna's words played directly into this idea of removing children from poverty and bringing them into affluence as a means for "bettering" their life.
My fear is that Madonna actually believes that she is helping the country of Malawi by adopting this child and bringing him to England.
As I said in the beginning, there are 1000 good reasons to adopt. I don't think I would be writing this post at all if she said something like this to Oprah: "Oprah, Guy and I realized that we wanted another child and we have so much love and support to give another child. But since we couldn't conceive with my eggs, we decided to adopt. And we met this boy at an orphanage in Malawi and I instantly knew that he was meant to be in our family."
Some humble parenting: I hope we do a good job raising him. I hope that we navigate this new experience well and help our son grow. I hope he knows how much we love him and how he is now one-third of my heart.
Anything other than thoughts of saviourhood and how much he needs you to parent him. How about how much you need him to be a parent?