Do Celebrities Have An Advantage in the International Adoption Process?

A recent article in the Huffington Post titled “Celebrity Adoptions: Do Stars Get An Advantage?” discusses how some new celebrity parents are bringing a good face to the adoption process, something several people in the adoption community think is important. However, the article questions whether celebrities are getting preferential status when adopting internationally, primarily due to their excess of wealth. The international adoption process can be a long, expensive, and tedious one for families, yet certain celebrities, like Angelina Jolie, Sandra Bullock, and Madonna seem to be able to adopt international children rather easily. This article suggests that because “international adoptions are often a much longer and more complicated process…celebrities can pay to get priority”.[1]

“According to David Smolin, a professor at the Cumberland Law School at Samford University and an international adoption expert, non-residents are not allowed to adopt in Malawi, but because of the humanitarian aid Madonna poured into the nation, she was able to skirt some rules when adopting her two children, Mercy James and David Banda.”[2] Is this fair? Should wealthy individuals be able to go around established international laws just because they have money to throw at the issue?

“Ann Reese, co-founder and executive director of the Center for Adoption Policy, told The Huffington Post that on average she doesn’t believe celebrities receive any special treatment when it comes to adoption”.[3] How realistic is this belief with adoption stories like Madonna’s mentioned above?

Whether or not money opens more doors for families looking to adopt, Reese rightfully suggests that, “at the end of the day, whether they have a leg up or not…celebrity adoptions and the media attention they garner are good for the adoption process as a whole”.[4] One wonders if celebrities should be criticized for giving a home to otherwise orphaned children. Is it really that bad if celebrities do in fact get an advantage?