Reporters on the Job

Madonna and Me: As the American father of an adopted child who was born overseas, staff writer Scott Baldauf has some empathy for pop singer Madonna's reported adoption of a 13-month-old boy from Malawi.

"I could never say that my wife and I see life through Madonna's eyes," he says, laughing at the suggestion. "But I might have a small window on a part of her life now."

Scott understands that there's a tendency among his journalistic colleagues to snicker at such acts by celebrities as publicity stunts. But as a father, he sees it differently.

"I have no idea what an orphanage in Malawi is like. But if you go into any orphanage, you cannot help feeling an immediate paternal tug to do something. I'm very sympathetic to that."

In Scott's case, the Indian orphanage was relatively well funded, and well run by a Catholic charity. "When you're confronted by a room full of 20 sets of beautiful eyes blinking at you, and the nun picks one child up and says, 'This one's available....' How can you put that child down and say, 'Well, I was thinking of something in taupe instead?' It's a powerful experience."

He also has a bit of unsolicited advice for Madonna. "You might expect the child to immediately coo and come into your arms. But, from what I've seen, the children are often a little angry that you took them away from the nuns, and all their friends. You've probably changed their diet from oatmeal gruel to real baby food. And you've pulled them out of a dorm room of 20 peers, and put them into a silent room of their own. All the changes, in the short run, can be unnerving for a child," says Scott.

David Clark Scott
World editor

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