As both an adult adoptee and an adoptive parent, I think part of me is hungry to see my family reflected back at me somehow. I take comfort in the fact that I'm not alone.
By Jillian Lauren, TODAY Moms contributor
I relish my bi-monthly trips to the nail salon, mostly because they allow me an hour or so of reading People and Parenting with impunity. Of the two, I have to say that I actually see more adoption-related articles in People. The public is as fascinated with celebrity adoption as they are with celebrity everything else, and I admit that I'm no exception. But on the subject of adoption, my interest probably goes deeper than just an appetite for celebrity dish.
As both an adult adoptee and an adoptive parent, I think part of me is hungry to see my family reflected back at me somehow. I take comfort in the fact that I'm not alone. There's always a section in these magazines about celebrities being "just like us." Look -- they get lattes at Starbucks, they rock out to Led Zeppelin in traffic, they take their kids to the park! They just dress better than us while they do it.
Celebrity adoptions periodically come under attack in the media. Most recently, Jillian Michaels, who hopes to adopt a child from the Democratic Republic of Congo, got blasted for making a couple of boneheaded (if probably misquoted) remarks about choosing adoption so she didn't have to get fat. The most common jibe seems to be that these adoptions are self-serving publicity ploys. Erica Jong in her Wall Street Journal column, "Mother Madness," said, "Professional narcissists like Angelina Jolie and Madonna want their own little replicas in addition to the African and Asian children that they collect to advertise their open-mindedness."
I have no idea what kind of mothers Madonna and Angelina Jolie are, or what their motives were in creating their families. And neither does Erica Jong. And neither do you, probably, unless you happen to be close friends with them (in which case, hook me up with a play date). But I do know that as adoptive parents they've dealt with maddening bureaucracy, an intrusive vetting process and a heart-wrenching wait for their children. The problem I have with celebrity adoption isn't the motives of the celebrities, it's the attention span of the reading public. Celebrity adoption is presented in the same way as celebrity parenting, celebrity beauty secrets, celebrity divorce and celebrity addiction: a narrative that's easy to digest in the time it takes to get a pedicure. The focus winds up on cute babies riding slim, designer-jean-clad hips. Adoption seems slick and easy.
And adoption is anything but easy. It's complicated; it's flawed; it's remarkable. And there just isn't enough room between best and worst dressed at the most recent award show to adequately explore that.
Still, I recently nearly smeared my nails while wiping a tear after seeing a picture of Katherine Heigl and Josh Kelley with their Korean-born daughter. I didn't reflect on the host of judgments surrounding "celebrity adoption." I just felt the kinship between one mother with another, knowing the unequalled joy of first holding our children in our arms.
Jillian Lauren is the author of the memoir, "Some Girls: My Life in a Harem." Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Paris Review Daily and Vanity Fair, among others. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, musician Scott Shriner, and their 3-year-old son. She blogs about motherhood, adoption, writing and being a rock wife, at http://www.jillianlauren.com/blog/. Her novel, "Pretty," comes out in August 2011.