Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Madonna has to adopt a defiant stance

Why all this moral fingerpointing about Madonna’s wish to adopt a second child from Malawi?

Fair enough, she's a global megastar. Fair enough, she's only recently dumped ‘our own’ Guy Ritchie — the chap who for a while gave us rights of ownership to ‘Madge’ — and that brought her domestic arrangements into focus once again.

But really we had all this last time round, with the adoption of her son David. The reaction then was particularly venomous, with the little boy hunted from the airport to his front door with the same hysterical mania as if he’d actually been Madeleine McCann.

Madonna held her ground then, with her usual disdain for whatever drivel the media can serve up about her. And now quite remarkably she’s returned to the same contentious process to adopt Mercy James, a four-year-old orphan.

It's easy to see why the star is one of the most resilient, enduring icons of modern culture — the bitch just won't let go. Anyone else would have said after the last adoption: “That was a PR disaster. No more of that.” But not Madonna. And that's because she knows it's been a success.

Her charity, Raising Malawi, is well bedded in now — jibes about its Kaballah ethos are about as tasteless as comments about any faith-based mission. The notion, as put forward by some charities, that children like David and Mercy would be better left in their own culture, is actually an argument for the withdrawal of all Western aid agencies from countries similarly afflicted by hunger and disease.

Intervention takes many forms, but the idea that creating a small island of wealth in which a chosen child might be brought up and the standards of their family raised to an impossible level in comparison with the next village is untenable and stupid.

Next we’d be told it would be that Madonna did nothing — and that that would be a better outcome. Child dies in its natural habitat and the western world is safe for freetrade chocolate and eco-ethical flip flops.

But this isn't some ‘rent a random refugee' scheme. This is an adoption. David is her son. Mercy James will be Madonna's daughter. Just as if she had conceived and given birth to her. All the rights belonging to blood belong to these two children. It's for keeps. The value of Madonna's action will be felt by adoption agencies here who are still struggling to place children because there’s still felt to be something peculiar about it all, with the Press routinely more interested in who the real parents are and if they have traced them yet.

The only people whose views count on this are the children themselves. They will be the ones who will judge Madonna Louise Ciccone, in the way we all do as we look back on our childhoods.

It's understandable Save The Children will seize on the opportunity to attach themselves to a megastar in order to raise their profile a few blocks up the websites. But I doubt anyone is giving money to that charity in order for it to sound forth about Madonna's quite legitimate, ethical and love-based adoption. After all, Madonna doesn't have to do this, she doesn't need the feelgood-ery, the profile boost.

As for the critics who object because she’s a single mother? Yes, a two-parent family is always the ideal, but there are many single mothers — often not by choice — doing an outstanding job bringing up children on their own.

Besides, the evidence would suggest that Madonna presides over a tight family unit. Her older daughter Lourdes is with her in Malawi, involved in the process and keen to welcome her new sister.

Would every teenager be so keen? It shows Madonna is able to give her family real, engaged responsibilies in thinking of others less well-off than themselves.

If David and Mercy grow up thinking they are different in that family set-up, it will only because of the rubber-necking and mutterings of the society they are living in. It won't be as a result of the family that they’re now part of.

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