Thursday, April 29, 2010
In Feb. of this year the Jolie-Pitts took their children for Italy. They just upped and took them for a trip while Angelina and Brad's younger biological children stayed home.
Seriously, how many Ethiopian, Cambodian, or Vietnamese kids are flying around the world in private jets getting first hand experience of different cultures and people.
Don't get me wrong, there are many positive things to come of this. Perhaps the Jolie-Pitts will be more open than children who had not had their same experiences. Perhaps they will do something amazing with their uniquely acquired perspective. However, I would appreciate it if I wasn't later told that the same children were also brought back to their countries of origin so as "not to loose a connection to who they are." They have lost connection to who almost any of us are!
I think these kids are getting a great education by traveling, but the second they were adopted by uberfamous and powerful celebrities they lost contact not only with their roots but with most of humanity.
Operation Moses is the single largest adoption event in history. Over the course of six weeks from Nov. to Jan. 1984 some 9,000 Ethiopian Jews were transported from Sudan to Israel. The objective of the operation was to rescue the Ethiopian Jewish community from a famine in Sudan and relocate them in Israel where they were to be "adopted" by the country.
This story adds some twists to concepts what we have discussed in class.
First, because the Ethiopian community was Jewish Israel sort of served as their "biological parents" despite the fact that they had never been to Israel. From this perspective, Sudan was the adoptive country despite that fact that that was where this Ethiopian community was from.
Second, we have often discussed the notion of rescuing adoptees. But in this case the goal of the operation was to rescue an entire community, not one child, not a few siblings, the entire Jewish community.
In fact, the mission was only completed in 1991 when the remaining 14,000 Jews were finally brought to Israel.
I just thought it was interesting to see how the term adoption is not limited by number, that it can be applied to an entire community.
1) While celebrity interracial/multiethnic adoptions tend to focus their attention abroad, adopting children from third world countries, Sandra has adopted a black child from New Orleans. This says a lot. Throughout the course of the semester I noticed a trend in American adoptions. American adoptive parents tended to adopt black children who were not from America. I thought this was interesting, because if you want to "save the world" you would think that at least some parents would want to start close to home. However, I think that adopting black American children sent a message not many people were willing to send. It was better to adopt a black child from an impoverished country.
But Sandra has set a different example. I am happy for her and feel that she is doing this for the right reasons, for the love of the child and not for the public message. That's brave.
2) Sandra kept this "on the down low" for a while, which to me reinforces the impression that she wasn't doing this for publicity.
Good for her!
Seriously? Are we really returning kids now?
Has human life become a commodity that we ship around the world to fulfill momentary needs or desires?
How does something like this even happen? Was the mother not given background check to see if she was suitable to be a parent? Did she get the child illegally? What?
It is just outrageous!
If the child wasn't "mentally ill," as the mother had claimed, before he may be on his way there now. I can only imagine the short and long-term negative effects such abuse can cause a child.
Ok... after getting that off my chest I also want to say something about the parents. The article makes an important point, that adoptive families are many times inheriting children with problems they were not responsible for creating. This story brings light to the orphanages and their treatment of children.
One thing is clear, adoption should be about matching loving parents with unloved children, not about getting rid of children.
Their whole existence is built on the projection of an image. As a result they tend to be about setting and following trends. Remember when Madonna started studying Kabbalah and became Esther? As Bruno would have said: Ahhh, dat iz soooo 2006! Do you remember that she inspired Britney Spears to take up classes, and her friends Ashton and Demi? When was the last time we heard about Kabbalah and these guys?
How do we know that current celebrity adoption trends aren't just going to fade away like the clothes they wear, the way they cut their hair, or even the person they're in a relationship with?
I guess time will tell if in the coming years international celebrity adoptions remain "in" or "out..."
Could Angie and Brad be at the forefront of creating a new universal country established by celebrities?
Lets think about this for a sec....
I guess it would be good to some extent because everybody would feel wanted and equal, they would have tons of money, and seemingly no concerncs, but then again no one would know what to do or how to behave until the directors showed up...
In all seriousness, I have to wonder where the line between saving a child and saving the world is crossed, and whether or not celebrities such as Brad and Angelina know the difference.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
I have this argument before. The claim is that children are suffering and waiting for homes, while their are loving homes waiting to receive them. The conclusion thus seems to be straight forward; let same-sex couples adopt.
I recognize the practicality of the solution and how it serves to provide a seemingly win-win result for both the couples and the children. However, I also believe that if you are going to fundamentally reorganize the family nucleus and let same-sex couples serve as the foundation of future families, then we had better have a stronger argument then "they had room so we shipped em'."
She was single by choice. I found it hard to understand why she was allowed to form a family without an essential part of the family, the father, by choice.
This article on marriage and longevity seem to prove my concerns. A comparison between single and married people revealed that married people live longer and healthier lives than single people. The article also points to the fact that the key to health is not the institution of marriage itself as much as it is a function of being in a working relationship.
I can't but wonder how the single mother would have been doing if she had a partner to help her through her struggles.
This case brought up the issue of international relations and adoption. On the face of things, adoption is about matching unwanted children with loving families. However, the process involve governmental procedures and mechanisms, as such they are dependant on larger national, and in this case international, circumstances.
The most interesting aspect I find in this story is the degree to which trust is associated with adoption. Without trust between nations, for example, international adoptions cannot take place. Parents have to trust that they can overcome the difficulties in raising a child that comes with baggage. Children have to put trust into their new parents. The entire process is sort of an "exercise" in trust.
Another important point that this story, as opposed to others, clearly made to me was just how many children in the world are out there waiting to be adopted, and similarly how many families out their are waiting to adopt a child to call their own. In this sense adoption, and especially international adoption, resembles other examples of globalization. It is as if a global market has been opened for children.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
I will explain.
I have an older friend, lets call him Doug, who's kids were playing with some of their friends at Doug's house. One of Doug's children's friends, lets call him Jimmy, decided he wanted to "conduct an experiment" with Doug's family dog. Jimmy took the dog up to the second floor, held the dog over the staircase and dropped him! Nothing happened but the dog got the wind knocked out of him and the fear of God put in him.
When Doug asked Jimmy why he hurt the dog, Jimmy answered that he wanted to see what would happen.
On the one hand, homosexuality is clearly an unnatural relationship for the simple reason that gay couples cannot naturally have children. I'm not putting a value on the issue, I am just stating that I don't think it is natural because it doesn't lead to the continuation of the species.
So from this perspective raising children in an environment that is fundamentally unnatural seems to me like an unnecessary experiment. I am not particularly curious to find out what happens.
I'm not particularly concerned with seeing what happens when you raise children in an unloving heterosexual relationship, or in homes where there is abuse, or infidelity. These are all "experiments" I would rather not be conducted in society.
This is the ideal.
On the other hand, I recognize that each situation has its own unique set of considerations that no overarching socially-defined norm could possibly "blindly" prescribe solutions for. Moreover, I don't doubt same-sex couples ability to provide loving and caring homes for their children. Furthermore, I recognize that taking a child out of an orphanage and putting him in the home of loving parents is in some cases the best thing to do for the child.
I also disagree with one person defining for another what is or is not "valid," or "acceptable."
Thus, as I said, I don't fall on any one side of the discussion, but rather try to extract the elements of truth that make each argument valid.
The most striking thing about the lady in this article was that she was raising four children on her own by CHOICE!!! I don't understand why a single parent would be allowed to adopt four children. We talk about adoption and the fact that it is a family by design, but at the same time someone has to allow this design to form. Why would someone sit and go, "yeah, one parent four kids, you guys should be fine."
If a single mother can be allowed to adopt four kids why can't a same-sexual couple adopt one?
And why stop at that? Why can't a reformed/rehabilitated sexual offender adopt a child? Who are we to judge whether or not such a person has truly changed his ways.
Now to make it absolutely clear I'm not trying to compare a sexual offended to a single parent or same-sex couple. The point I am trying to make is once you no longer perceive a family as a unit consisting of two loving parents, a male and a female, that are committed to raising their children so that those children may later engage in a process of self and social refinement then it doesn't matter what people do. Free will with no overarching structure is a recipe for disaster. The subsequent discussion as to which version of a family is deemed to be socially acceptable is to me an arbitrary one, and a decision that misses the point.
When all is said and done and everyone is free to assemble any variation of a family they want, then what?
What will people do once they have that right? What is the purpose of the family? What is it to do? What are they trying to achieve? If you don't know those things how are you going to decide what form of a family is acceptable or not?
The other thing to stick out in the article was the lady's dual use of the word adoption. In one part of the article it is used to reflect a willful choice she made, the adoption of her children and the single parent life. In its second use "adoption" is tied to a circumstance thrust upon her by necessity. It is funny that the word adoption doesn't necessarily imply free will though one would think it would. I'm not even sure I understand what she means by the word adoption after reading her use it in two contrasting ways.
I know it means to make something your own, but doesn't that entail choice? And if so doesn't that entail your own free will? If so what the heck does an adoption of necessity mean? You made something your own by lack of choice?
I don't get it.
The first thing that sticks out in the picture is that no one person looks like the other. For example, while Brad and Angelina are both white, he has bright blue eyes and blond hair, while Angelina has a darker complexion. The children, Maddox, Zhara, and Shiloh are of different races and colors as well.
Thus, straight from the get go we can see that this is not your "typical" family. It is an assemblage of peoples strategically put together to form a universal family.
The second element of the picture that sticks out is the characters' gaze. Each person in the picture is looking somewhere else. Brad, for example, seems to be looking both at nothing and the entire family at the same time. Angelina's gaze, on the other hand, is clearly directed to Shiloh, while Maddox is looking at Shiloh and perhaps Zahara and Shiloh is looking at Zahara. Zahara on the other hand is staring out into nothing somewhat breaking the inner composition of the children's gazes.
A few things come to mind when examining the character's gazes. First, it seems that while Brad is overlooking everything he is somewhat removed from the family. It is almost as if he is giving his approval to the idea of having a multiracial family, but at the same time that he is not the driving force behind its formation. Angelina, in contrast, seems like the heart and soul of the family. It is her idea and on her the family rests. See the link for a look at the Bunker Family, from the Archie Bunker Show. Archie is the one at the bottom of the picture, he is the foundation, the anchor for the family not as we see in this picture.
Second, the children seem to be connected to one another only through Angelina. There is no interaction between them, and in fact each seems to have some sort of interest in the other that they themselves are unaware of. Zahara is the exception in this case, as it is she seems to not be interested in anything in the family.
Furthermore, although Angelina seems to be glowing, I don't get a sense of happiness rising from the family, and definitely not one of a uniting sense of love. What I see is a happy woman who is pleased with what she has created, a man who supports her, and three kids who have no idea what's going on.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
In case you forgot, Elian was the sole survivor of a ship carrying his mother and eleven others that sunk as its travelers fled Cuba in hopes of finding a better life in America.
The story became complicated when Elian's father, who had been separated from Elian's mother and still living in Cuba, demanded that his son be returned to him. Elian's relatives living in Miami and who were taking care of him since his rescue, however, fought to keep him in the United States.
Different legal issues arose during this case, such as the question of granting Elian asylum in the States and Elian's father's custody rights visa vi Elian's family members.
The United States government, under Bill Clinton, focused the discussion on the legalities of the issues, making the case a debate on custody rights between Elian's father and Elian's family in the United States, with Elian's father eventually winning.
After reading the article I had the following questions:
1) Do we genuinely believe in the "American Way of Life" over other belief systems specifically Communism? If so why send Elian back to grow up under a regime who's way life we condemn?
2) All things remaining the same but the father lived in America, who do you think should have custody over the child, the more stable family members or the father?
3) Had this happened in a different period in U.S history, say the 70's, or shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis would people be more prone to allowing Elian to stay, and thereby "saving him" from Communism, or would they opt to send him back out of hatred for his motherland?
What does this say about current and historic U.S. and Cuban relations?
4) From a logical standpoint, it is obvious that a part of his family was vehemently against sending him back to Cuba, and the mother was willing to risk her and her son's lives for the hope of a better future, so why return the kid to the exact same place he escaped from?
5) We know that laws reflect the values and beliefs of a time and as such are malleable. Eventually the father's right to his child outweighed all others. What does this say about the American values system? Do we believe more in the importance of family than we do in our way of life? Has the family become more important than the belief system itself?
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
While rescue stories, and happy stories are, well, happy, the message sent by such articles are somewhat bothersome.
Adopted children, like the rescued animals, are objectified. In this case the articles purpose is to convey a sense of stability and control. Such messages, I feel, are used to counter balance the equally "dramatic" and negative stories that are continuously reported throughout the media.
As a viewer I don't get a real understanding of what happened to these children. Why I do get is the "sensationalism" of their rescue.
I feel like I'm constantly getting emotionally manipulated to feel one way or another, and that the object of manipulation is secondary. I'm not trying to argue for the importance of one over the other, but rather point to the fact that we are watching a t.v. drama rather than the news.
I'm not sure that she did in fact say this, but if so it raises some questions as to the environment her children are being raised in. If you are not completely committed to the partner whom with you are building a family does that not imply a lack of commitment to the unit as a whole?
Something to think about.