I’m sure all South Africans know by now that our very own Charlize Theron adopted a son. It’s been all over the news and in the media in general, including SM. Of course, as South African’s we seem to be most irate that she adopted from the United States, the country she now calls home, and not from South African. This seems to have opened a world of judgement on her from our corner of the world. Why, when she claims to be so proud of her South African roots, did she not adopt a child from here when there are so many adoptable babies and children in our country.
Does she have a responsibility as a celebrity to set an example?
There are a million different opinions on this topic. I, for one, don’t really have an opinion. I for one, who has looked at and experienced adoption don’t feel that we have any right to judge her choice.
I think the single biggest mistake that the uninformed public is making is that Charlize adopted out of a sense of wanting to do something “good”, of making a difference in a child’s life, of rescuing them from a life spent growing up in an orphanage or children’s home. But what people so often misunderstand is that adoption is very rarely ever considered out of a need to do something “good”. Yes, there are plenty of blended families out there who, after having a number of biological children of their own, will look to add to their family via adoption but this is very rarely the case. Most often, the reason’s for adoption are in fact self centered, I know it was in my case and when one looks at Charlize’s story, I suspect her reason’s are the same. A unmarried woman, approaching her 40’s with the longing to parent a child, a child to call her own, to experience motherhood fully.
For woman like her, for women like me, there are two alternatives… fertility treatment, which is hugely expensive, emotionally, physically and spiritually exhausting and comes with no guarantee’s or the adoption option. The option to adopt is not purely out of a desire to fulfill a calling to do something “good”, it is way more about fulfilling a desire to be a mother.
In addition, the South African Department Of Social Services, who child welfare and the like report to, have a very strict policy on adopting children outside of our borders, preferring to keep them here and keep them in touch with their culture. On an intellectual level this makes sense, but practically it does not as it means that only a tiny handful of adoptable children in SA will go into loving homes and the remainder will grow up in children’s homes, orphanages and institutions. The is a sad reality.There have been numerous cases in the news of families from all over wanting to adopt a South African child and have been put through the ringer over a period of years to work through all the red tape that is required to adopt the child and get them out of South Africa.
In addition, if we’re to judge Charlize for not adopting from South Africa, then what about all the South African’s who have adopted from outside of our borders? What about all the people who paid huge sums of money to travel to Kazakstan, Russian & other Eastern block countries to adopt children and babies and bring them back to South Africa? Should we not then be judging their choices, their decision to not adopt locally?
Further too that, if we’re so outraged by the number of adoptable children living in children’s homes around our country, should we not then put pressure on fertile couples to not get pregnant and rather adopt because the need to do something “good” should override the desire for a child genetically ones own?
I think not.
I think this is a deeply personal decision, born after much investigation and consideration. Adoption is a complex issue, it is not a simple process and never one that is entered into lightly.
I think all the people so outraged by Charlize’s decision should really be asking themselves, why don’t they then decide to do something “good” and adopt an adoptable child into their families?