Tuesday, August 28, 2007

In Angelina Jolie's Shadow

I was originally going to write about the next chapter in our infertility saga, but I have been wanting to get something off my chest for a long time now.


Ever since before Destructo Boy came home and we were telling people we were adopting, I have had many conversations with (for the most part) well-meaning people that that have sounded like this:

Curious person: Congratulations! He's so cute! Where is he from again?

Me: South Korea

Curious person: Wow! And [Sassy Girl], she's your biological child, right? (Sometimes this phrase doesn't come out so nice) Why did you decide to adopt?

Me: Well, it's a long story...

Curious person (not wanting to hear it): You guys are just like Brad and Angelina! Did you know that they.....

Celebrities can do what they want. I admit, the tabloids do give me entertainment and I do pay attention, especially when it is about adoption. I also believe that 90% of the crap I read isn't true and the stories are just PR stunts to promote movies, music, clothing lines, etc. However, I have mixed feelings about seeing adoption in the entertainment media. On the one hand, adoption has become more "normalized" because of the attention payed public figures who become adoptive parents. On the other hand, most of these stories are not meant to educate the public about adoption so they end up perpetuating the negative stereotypes associated with adoptive families.

I do not own a (real) Louis Vuitton bag, and if I did, it would not be because I saw Paris Hilton carry one on a red carpet. Nor did Ebo and I come to an adoption decision because it's the latest fad in Hollywood. Anyone who has gone through the adoption process will tell you that it's not easy and certainly not for everyone. Nobody can "just adopt," not even Angelina Jolie (although at times I have wondered if the process might have been streamlined for her, but I digress). Ebo and I had to ask ourselves (and were asked by a social worker) many questions about our desire and ability to be parents of an adopted child. How were we going to address adoption in the future? How do we feel about having both an adopted child and a biological child? How would we answer questions about our son's birthfamily? How would we honor his culture?

Adoption is about more than just having a baby. It's more about welcoming a child into your family and embracing his or her biological and cultural past. I'm sure Angelina and Brad do a fine job of this, but really, they are not the first people I look to for parenting advice.

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