The Oct. 19 article, "In Malawi, uproar over Madonna and child," missed a golden opportunity to explore the real child rights issues surrounding Madonna's adoption: David Banda's right to be raised by his father. Like most of the international press reports, this article narrowly focused on the controversy over whether Madonna received special treatment, missing the chance to raise a much more complex set of questions: 1) Why are children with a living parent placed in orphanages and put up for adoption? 2) Why do Americans see international adoption as the magic bullet for children living in poor, AIDS-impacted communities? The pat response that Malawi cannot cope with the scale of orphaning would be too simplistic and would deserve deeper consideration.
As privileged Americans, we have a tradition of child rescuing. What we miss, however, when we rush to rescue is an opportunity to find better solutions to support poor children. And as most orphans in African orphanages are not parentless, but rather are there because of poverty, the need to find better solutions is even more urgent. It would simply be outrageous in the US to consider adoption as an acceptable solution for poor children who have a living, loving parent. Why should such a situation be considered any less outrageous for Malawi?
If Madonna truly wants to save a child, she should consider how to use her generous resources to support David's father as he raises his child. Real rescuing begins with helping poor parents and communities, not adoption.
Brigette De Lay
Regarding the Oct. 19 article about Madonna's adoption of David Banda: I believe everyone would agree with the observation that there are too many children without families in our world today. Anyone who wants to help should be commended. However, the distinction needs to be drawn between help and long-term care. A child is not a Prada purse and cannot be bought.
Each country sets its own standards for international adoption and nothing should waive those. A more basic issue here for all adoptions is the question: "Have you exhausted all options to adopt within your own country?" Only when the answer is "yes" should parents be permitted to adopt internationally. If one just wants to help, then send a donation to one of the local charity organizations.
In response to the Oct. 19 article about Madonna: More celebrities who have a "world podium" can bring this very logical act of adoption to the attention of the common man. This is extreme common sense.
If celebrities can inspire the world's people to look beyond themselves and give back by giving a child a better life, then we should follow the example. I am a mother of two and plan to adopt a female child here in India very soon.
There are too many female infanticides here and in Africa. The system will take almost forever to change. Educating the poor will take even longer. The number of children orphaned as a result of AIDS, other diseases, and malnutrition keeps rising, and the hardest-hit areas are India and many countries in Africa.
I am writing this because the awareness spawned by Madonna's adoption of David Banda – which in my opinion has come too late – is inspirational. Adoption is the most logical step for any household that can afford a child.
Anupama Sukh Lalvani
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