Friday, January 12, 2001

Star child: Another celebrity adopts

Call her Ally McMom: The big celebrity news yesterday was that Calista Flockhart, she of the dancing baby and anorexic physique, has adopted a baby boy. The birthmother is reportedly a medical technician who already has four children, and the actress was there on New Year's Eve to watch the birth. The new mama says she's always wanted to adopt, and may do so again.

And so, we wish her well, and offer congratulations. We guess.

It's hard, when celebrities adopt, to not feel just a little bit catty about it. Or maybe a lot catty. How long did she have to wait for that baby, we wonder. Many of us normal mortals who have adopted have jumped through hoops for the privilege, gone through months and years of paperwork and forms and suspense and heartbreak; why is it that celebs seem to be able to order up a baby like they were ordering a pizza? (Not to suggest that Ms. Flockhart actually orders pizza.) How much money changes hands? Who handles these transactions? And how on earth do some of these people pass homestudies? Don't social workers ever read the National Enquirer?

And why do they always adopt healthy newborns? When you think of all the money and time and support and resources celebs possess, it seems a shame that they're not all adopting older children with special needs, who need all the resources they can get. It's nice that they want to form their families through adoption, but why does it always seem they're bopping to the head of the line to score those perfect infants, probably plucking them from the arms of perfectly nice unknown families who have been waiting years and years.

And yet... If we all had had the ability to bypass all those hoops and headaches, would we not have done that? We can wish that the system was that streamlined for everyone, but I don't know that I can begrudge stars that ease. Should they insist on waiting? The upside of celebrity is that some things just come easier, and while it's uncomfortable to think of a baby in the same terms as a table at a chic restaurant, there's probably an analogy there. The downside of celebrity is that every problem that kid has down the road to adulthood will be recorded, analyzed, and overexposed; and when he finally reaches adulthood, he'll write a nasty book. In the long run, I think I'll take the extra hassle at the beginning in exchange for being able to make all my parenting mistakes in private.

None of us much likes to have our adoption choices and family make-up second-guessed, though that certainly doesn't keep our friends and relatives from doing so. Perhaps we should extend a little grace to celebrity adoptive parents, and give them the benefit of the doubt. If nothing else, stars' adopting publicizes adoption in a positive light and makes it seem a more desirable thing to do, and that's got to be good for all adoptive families.

So congrats, Calista. Good luck with that little guy. And keep your strength up, okay? You're going to need it.

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