I have a new post up at Global Comment.
Madonna is continuing on a tradition of celebrities adopting foreign children. Though she has not reached the level of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, her recent attempt to adopt Mercy from Malawi would have made her the single mother to four children. The fact that she is unmarried with three children already at home and is still considered a potential adoptive mother speaks to the race and class privilege that Madonna possesses.
Madonna has constructed herself as the loving earth mother gone abroad to save the African children from a life despair. Though she has invested in orphanages and has started a few programs, her desire to adopt children despite the express wishes of their famillies, evidences her colonialist positioning. In this second attempt to adopt a child, the family has also expressed a desire to block the adoption.
According to The Sun, “the girl’s gran Lucy Chekechiwa, 60, said she has been asked repeatedly by officials if Mercy could be adopted by an “unidentified foreign family” — but was firmly against it. Speaking from her village in Zomba District, Lucy said: “Twice I have told the adoption people that I do not want Mercy to go outside the country. But they keep on at us. Now they say that Mercy will be leaving us, but can return at age 18.”
Even with the express refusal of the families in question, Madonna continued with her adoption plans firm in the belief that her class privilege would offer David and now Mercy a better life. Though a life with Madonna would provide opportunities that would otherwise be denied to Mercy because of her poverty and our decided commitment to maintaining a hierarchy of bodies, these children will lose their cultural links by not being reared within their country. It will not suffice to surround the children with Western blacks as they will not be able to pass on the traditions that are unique to Malawian culture.