Thursday, October 26, 2006

"O" C'mon!

When I considered posting on this topic, I realized that I rarely blog about the media...or current events. I can't think of any reason why I haven't, because there is MORE than enough going on out there that is worthy of contemplation and discussion. So, in my acknowledgment of that fact, please forgive me if you deem this - one of the few "media topics" that I have chosen to discuss - as being trite.

Yesterday, as some of you may know, Oprah had Madonna - via satellite from London - as a guest on her show. According to Madonna, she was appearing on the show to "set the record straight" regarding her recent adoption of David, an 18-month old boy from Malawi. For those of you who are not up to speed on the issues surrounding this adoption,
go here. Go here for more information on the interview with Oprah. (hopefully the links will work, but if not you can google it)

Let me first go on the record as saying that I am an advocate for adoption, especially the adoption of Black children - the consistently overlooked and devalued. I will also say that I applaud the various celebrities that, be it intentionally or unintentionally, have brought African adoptions - specifically - to the forefront. There are many people that believe that adoption should begin at home - with American children - and while I do agree, the reality is that it doesn't seem like that is happening at the same rate as international adoptions. Therefore, my recommended continent of choice is Africa.

I digress...

As it relates to this particular interview - my issue is with what seems to be a lack of candor on Madonna's part, and a lack of journalistic integrity on the part of Oprah.
What I am really considering in this lowly blog entry, is the "elephant" that stood in Harpo Studios named "preferential treatment" - and the blatent disregard of its existence.

What has presented itself to be the main point of contention in this "case" is the time, or lack thereof, that it took to process this adoption. When asked by Oprah if she felt as though things happened more quickly for her because of her celebrity status, Madonna's response was something to the effect of wishing that it HAD gone quickly and that if you know anything about Africa, you know that nothing happens quickly in Africa.

Well...I've never been to Africa, soooooooo...okay. I can see how, coming from America where things are usually quick, quick, quick that when going to another country, you might think they move slow.

But then here's the kicker...about 10 or 15 minutes after Madonna implies that everything was done by the books, Oprah tells Madonna that she heard that the adoption is not really official. That in 18 months, "the powers that be" are going to determine whether or not she is going to be able to keep baby David. Madonna says no way...not true. She goes on to explain that right now they are in a phase called "interim adoption." Interim adoption, she goes on to educates us, is the legally determined timeframe (of 18 months) when the adoptive parents are supposed to reside in the country (in this case Malawi) with the child. During this time, the family is evaluated and monitored to ensure a smooth and comfortable transistion - both for the child and the new parents.
Well...Ms. Material Girl then says that this law was, essentially, waived - allowing their "interim adoption" to take place in London - because there was no way that she could leave her children and husband to go live in another country for 18 months.

Are you serious???? If you want to adopt from Malawi, or any other country that has such laws, YOU DO! I would have to, so why shouldn't she? And the crazy thing is she has the means to do that...the money to not worry about work and to fly her family back and forth when she missed them...or move them there with her for the 18 month time period!

I don't know about you, but something smells very strongly of preferential treatment! is where Oprah disappointed me and displayed her inability to seperate herself from her celebrity. She, in my own personal opinion, as a bonafide journalist should have taken this opportunity to question Madonna as to whether or not that very "allowance" was a form of preferential treatment...of something that was done simply because of who she is. But nope, she just let that slide...didn't flinch, didn't question...NO.NOTHING! I was stunned, and borderline offended, by the fact that they obviously think we're idiots. I mean, am I wrong? Is this not an example of the exact kind of thing that has people questioning the whole process? an effort to "set the record straight" was it journalistically irresponsible for Oprah to not dig deeper...ask the tough question?

One might have concluded that Oprah was standing by what she stated in the beginning of her show - that with all of the other serious, life threatening situations going on in the world, does it make sense that Madonna's adoption should make the headlines? So maybe she didn't want to contribute to making a sensational mountain out of a molehill.

I think not.

See, after Madonna's segment, Oprah interviewed the Dixie Chicks. If you'll remember, the Dixie Chicks made international headlines after the lead singer, Natalie Maines, spoke out against the war and the President while performing in London. But rather than focus on the controversy surrounding the war and the President...the meat of why Natalie said what she said...Oprah was insistent upon the other two members of the group sharing whether or not they were mad at Natalie for what she did/said. If you watched closely, you'd notice that the Chicks seemed to try to gloss over that question...not create a problem where no problem existed (apparently)...laugh it off and get on to the real issues. But Oprah dug deep...actually asked them to "get serious" and basically give us the scoop. Air their personal, and possibly "dirty," laundry.

Hmmmmmm...interesting. Maybe it's just me, but I don't get it.

The bottom line is that I agree with Oprah in that Madonna did a wonderfully beautiful thing. She adopted a child and has given him what he might not have had if he remained in that Malawian orphanage...and that's opportunity. I would never question her on, nor fault her for, that.

But, what would be nice is a tad bit of honesty...and reality. It's already enough that we have to put up with that fake a** accent!

Oy vey!


At 2:58 AM, Blogger P said...

Though I commend what appears to be the authentic effort of Madonna to adopt a child from a poverty stricken country . . .

I wonder how much more beneficial it would have been for her to review the parental information, supply the father with reading skill sets, and moved to a geographical area where they can thrive (he is illiterate), continue to training, accompanied by a yearly stipend, along with the donation she left, and keep the family intact. That was his only living child, and, in a country where your only choice is no choice

Granted, I agree he was manipulated by the media - I believe that from day one, and she did try to stay in the CUT regarding this adoption, but yet in still, building and rebulding nations and families is one brick (person) at a time, and this could have been an opportunity to do so.

Both of them did a brave thing.

At 8:31 AM, Blogger Darbs said...

@ P: I, too, agree that they both did a very brave thing. And I also thought the same thing as you, why not attempt to keep the family together...sponsor them, so to speak. That would have been a brave and beautiful act as well. Who knows?

At 9:56 AM, Blogger Mocha_Grl said...

I have to agree with P...I'm not sure of the details surrounding this adoption (disclaimer LOL), but as I read I had to wonder, if this child HAS a father why not work to equipe this man with the skill sets he needs, if she wanted to assist.

It also seems a little creepy to me this new attitude that lil African children are the new Uggs or something. I'm not a mind reader, and who knows people's motives...and you are absolutely right, she could provide a financially better environment for that child than he (or I, for that matter) will ever see...but when rich white people start, for all intense and purposes, buying lil' black children....Mocha starts to get nervous.

Great post!!

At 12:53 PM, Blogger Nikki said...

That whole adoption stinks to high heaven. Had Madonna not been Madonna, she would had to go through the proper channels for adoption. Therefore, she did get preferential treatment. We all know that. It think it's going to get worse before it's all over with. Clearly something was not done legally and it will be brought to light. I also feel as if the father was coerced into putting his son up for adoption.

And don't get me wrong, I'm happy for people who go to other countries and adopt children who have special needs and/or need medical attention that they would not receive in their own country, but we have children in our own country who need those type of adoptive parents as well. Why aren't you an all fired up hurry to adopt them too?

At 2:36 PM, Blogger GC (God's Child) said...

very nice of you to still be considering Oprah a journalist.

At 2:46 PM, Blogger Darbs said...

@ Mocha: I totally get where you are coming from with the adoption of African children seeming to be the "fashionable" thing to do. I don't know how many times I've watched Adoption Stories and witnessed white families adopting African & Carribean children and buying a blanket or trinket from the country so that the child will "know where it came from." It's sadly humorous. However, there IS a part of me that does rejoice in the fact that in the majority of these cases, these children will live financially and educationally better lives. But I an ideal situation, it would be NICE (not necessary) if these children could be placed in homes where adoptive parents looked like them.

@ Nikki:'s quite rancid in my opinion. It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out...especially since the father is claiming to have been unaware of exactly how this "adoption" was going to work (which is believable to me, especially since Madonna admits to him being illiterate...and having to translate English into the Malawian language...who knows what might have been lost in translation). And I, too, wish that more American children were being adopted...I can't imagine what it must feel like for children in foster care to see these celebrities going outside of the country to adopt when they are living right around the corner. This whole situation is very bittersweet.

@ God's Child: LOL...yeah, I guess it is. But when you consider her humble beginnings, you do have to take into account that she DID study and learn (or should have learned) the basics of authentic journalism.

At 3:43 PM, Blogger African girl, American world said...

You know I love you? ok I got that out, lets get to it :)

For me nothing about the interview was 'off'. Maybe it is because I am from Africa and I understood what was being said. Something as simple as getting a passport or a drivers licence is rarely done in a day like it is here. You have to know people to get it done that quick. Otherwise it could be months. That is how it works.

And it is the truth...there are no adoption laws in Zambia or Malawi right now. Maybe now that this sitaution has come about, there will be. Relatives usually take in children or they go to orphanages. If kids end up here with a family, then it wasn't through adoption...probably through a relative bringing them here and leaving them. Basically something illegal as far as birth certificates and SS#s.

Darbs, think of people from here that adopt from China. They are not required to go and live there for a number of months pending the adoption. The babies are brought to them. Zahara was brought to Angelina, Angelina didn't have to go and live in Ethiopia.

Another thing is that single fathers are not the norm in that part of the world. Clearly this dude doesn't have as large an extended family because if he did, a female relative would have took David.

Yes Madonna could have set up all this for David's father but she wanted to adopt a child. She says she will be visiting Malawi twice a year and taking all her children with her...I seriously doubt that she would go and not let David see his father.

I am concerned about the bags that were under Aunty O's eyes all last week. Her interviews are never in depth to me...they pretty much follow the shock value rule. I mean just yesterday she got all excited about asking the women with AIDS about sex.

At 5:41 PM, Blogger Tracie B. said...

ah-ccent? what ah-ccent?

At 5:52 PM, Blogger Darbs said...

@ Mwabi: And you know that I was waiting to hear what you had to say, right? LOL. I know you love me girl...and I love you too! it relates to the speed and "red tape" that one has to go through to get things done in Africa...I don't disagree...I would assume that things wouldn't happen as easily as they may in the States. I'll give that to Madonna, if for no other reason than the fact that I have never been.

In response to there being no real adoption laws in Malawi, Madonna did say that. BUT...she also referenced this 18 month "interim adoption" period where you are supposedly required to reside in the country with the child. She did in fact state that, as it relates to the preliminary adoption process, they were making it up as they went along. Okay, fine...I have no real issue with that. However, when it comes to this "interim adoption" which I implied was already in place - I feel as though she should have to follow the rules just as anyone else would. And being as she did not, she should admit that it had something to do with her celebrity.

As for China and other countries, including Ethiopia, it doesn't seem like they have such laws set in place. I'm assuming this to be fact as we haven't heard of any issues with adoptions that have taken place in those countries (ie. Angelina). And, if there were and Angelina was not required to abide by them, my arguement would be the same.

When it comes to the father and the idea of Madonna setting them up so that the family could stay in tact, I'm coming from the standpoint that ideally it would be a beautiful thing if families could remain together. However, if that goes against traditional norms...I can do nothing but respect and honor that. I understood Madonna's desire to adopt a child, and as stated, I applaud her for that...I really do. I'm not sure that P and Mocha's suggestion to keep the family together could have worked in this particular instance, as no one from baby David's family had been to visit him in quite some time and they had to go out and find his father. However, in general, I do believe in keeping a family together (which is what, ultimately, I believe P and Mocha were trying to suggest).

And although I agree that Oprah's interviews are usually superficial, I've never seen her as one to shy away from the "tough" questions, or the questions that she believes her viewers would want to have answered.

Finally...yes, she is looking a bit tired these days, but I think she has always looked like that. Recording in HDTV has now made it public knowledge! LOL.

I'm so glad you decided to comment and share your viewpoint...I respect it, and you, immensely!

Don't you just love intelligent, heartfelt and respectful sharing and debate amongst Black minds? It truly is a beautiful thing!

At 5:53 PM, Blogger Darbs said...

@ Tracie: LMAO!!! That's why you are one of my favs! I'm so glad you came back to visit me...I've missed you and all of your Italian glory :0)

At 7:59 PM, Anonymous CreoleInDC said...

I might say something to get me stoned. LOL!

I look at it this way. If I have the money to not have to deal with all the ridiculous red tape the rest of the world has to...why not? With money comes priviledge and that's the sad truth of it. So yes...if it were me and I had that kind of money...would I do it? Short answer...YUP.

At 2:57 AM, Blogger Tracie B. said...

what does LMAO mean?

thanks ;)

At 10:04 AM, Blogger Darbs said...

@ Creole: First of all will NEVER get stoned on my blog if I have anything to do with it. I don't play! Now onto your comment: If people with money chose to take advantage of the "priviledges" that come with be it...but just be honest about what it is that you have done...don't be ashamed, or embarrassed and don't lie. That's all that I'm saying. And...priviledge can come with more than just can come from who you know, where you went to school, fraternity/sorority membership, skin color, church affiliation, profession...the list goes on and on. I just don't want to make this a rich v. poor issue.

@ Tracie: You have been in Italy WAAAAAY too long...LOL. "LMAO" stands for Laughing My A** Off!

At 12:27 PM, Blogger Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

Hey Darbs, glad to have found your blog, it was through Tracie B... you'll have to forgive me but I didn't know what LMAO was either... thanks for keeping us up to date over here!

I had read briefly about this in the news and I can't think of anyone else but a celebrity that would get the 18 month rule waived... maybe Madonna promised the Malawi officials that they could check up on her son in England instead, you know, she'd host them at her "estate" and they could all go riding together (just like she did as a kid growing up in Michigan, right?) Puhleese!!

At 8:40 AM, Blogger The Sarccastik Variable Why said...

i just briefly know about this whole madonna adoption thing...i'll have to read more about it...

At 3:46 PM, Blogger TTD said...

i dont know much about the situation.. nor honestly do i care... i agree... why do some things make the news?? i mean, really?


At 12:07 PM, Blogger Darbs said...

@ Shelley: Thanks for stopping by my blog...don't be a stranger. I'll have to drop by yours so that you, like Tracie, can make me jealous :o) And just let me know if there is anything else I can translate for you expats...LMAO!

@ SarccastiK: I wouldn't bother...unless you're extremely bored. LOL.

@ TTD: Ain't that the truth?

At 9:43 PM, Anonymous CreoleInDC said...


Hope you had a FABU Halloween Princess and that you're all ready to vote!

At 10:40 AM, Blogger Darbs said...

@ Creole: I'm here...actually gonna post today...I know it's been a minute, but I'm not going MIA on ya! My Halloween wasn't nearly as exciting as yours...we only got 4 trick-or-treaters...and three of them came together...LOL! You're costume was great...I just had on kitten ears and painted my nose black...I just can't bring myself to do the dress up thing!

At 11:44 AM, Blogger African girl, American world said...

kitten ears?? LOL!

At 8:02 PM, Anonymous CreoleInDC said...

See...when you check your stats today...subtract 5...cuz I been over here 5 times looking for something new today woman! Humph!


At 8:25 AM, Blogger The Sarccastik Variable Why said...

just stopped thru...


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