Karaoke Diva sent me an interesting clip that was commentary on Angelina Jolie's recent appearance on Larry King Live:
KING: Some other aspects of our extremely talented guests -- you have two adopted children, right? What's that like?
JOLIE: It's the same as my biological child. They're -- I have three, and Maddox -- he's five and he's from Cambodia, and Zahara is two, almost, and she's Ethiopian, and Shiloh is six months. And they are all just like everybody. I love my kids -- they're funny, and they're magnificent, and --
KING: The late Bob Considine (ph) -- the Chicago writer -- wrote, "I have four children; two are adopted -- I forget which two."
JOLIE: That's right. You really do. And I honestly thought, when I was pregnant, I thought, god, I hope it doesn't feel different. Because I was worried. And it didn't feel different -- it doesn't at all.
KING: What do you make of the fuss over Madonna adopting a young African boy?
JOLIE: I don't know all the details and we're not close friends, so I wasn't able to speak with her. I only understand that we all have to be very -- everybody who adopts -- it's a difficult thing, to adopt, probably more difficult in many ways than it should be. But it's great that it is out there. And you have to go through many levels in order to do that.
KING: It should be hard.
JOLIE: It should -- it should be hard to be a parent, period. It should be -- you know, you shouldn't...
KING: They ought to have a test for it.
JOLIE: I mean, yes, you're saying -- and I go through many, many things in order to adopt. I'm fingerprinted, I'm checked, I go through home studies. I go through everything to prove I'm a decent citizen, I'm a good human being.That doesn't -- that didn't happen to me when I gave birth. You know? So it's interesting that there's no background check on you when you bring a child into your home in that way. But -- but I think, you know, that there's -- it was a country that does not have foreign adoptions usually. And so I think she's--I'm sure--smart enough to know that that was going to be unusual.
Jolie's comments during the interview reminded me of the line Keanu Reeves delivers in the movie, Parenthood: "You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car - hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they'll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father."
I disagree with Contactmusic.com's take on the interview: "Angelina Jolie insists adoptive parents are more fit to raise a child than biological parents, because their background and personality is thoroughly scrutinised to see if they're suitable for the challenge." She didn't say anything close to that. Instead, she was pointing out the hoops adoptive parents jump through that are absent from the world of biological parents.
It is interesting that there aren't background checks. There's no one turning to you in the hospital and saying that you're too fat or too old or too damaged to parent. Yet countries set up stringent rules on who they deem worthy to adopt children.
China recently changed their rules to exclude many people--not only single parents, but also "those who are obese, disfigured or on antidepressant medication. Applicants who are divorced or had their marriage annulled must wait five years after remarriage, and first-time couples must have been married for two years before becoming eligible, the rules stipulate. Homosexuals are excluded from adoption. Both prospective parents must have body mass indexes under 40 -- in other words, they cannot be morbidly obese."
I question some of the hoops that parents go through who take the adoption route. Why is it permissible to have that level of judgment within adoption, but we wouldn't dream of making some of the same rules for biological parents? Would the world be up in arms if government officials were entering the hospital and removing newborn children from parents who are "obese, disfigured or on antidepressant medication"?
And how many Americans would currently be parents if all of the rules governing the China adoption program (which is not the only program in the world with these limits) were suddenly in place in America?
I can't really put my finger on the "why" since it isn't determined by genetics, but there is a tinge of something akin to eugenics in this new ruling. Instead of weeding out the "undesirable" in order to create a race of blond-haired blue-eyed children, the Chinese government is weeding out the "undesirable" in order to create a community of slim, heterosexual, married adoptive parents. The government has the right to limit their program, and certainly no person has the "right" to be able to adopt (adoption is a reality of the world at large coming together to help raise a child--it isn't a system to create parents but rather one that allows people who can help to step forward to aid that child). Yet the new regulations smack a little too much of Nazi Germany to make me feel comfortable.
I am all for determining the fitness of parents--but that fitness is directly tied to having sound parenting techniques and responsibility in regards to the child. It's not determined by weight or having four limbs or being free of mental illness. Nor is it determined by arbitrary characteristics such as IQ, hair colour, or height. And I guess that's what worried me since, as Keanu Reeve's character pointed out, any asshole can be a parent--that is, as long as they don't engage in adoption.