Chantal criticizes Madonna, Jolie for adoptions.
By Adrian Chamberlain/Canwest News Service
June 22, 2009
Celebrities such as Madonna and Angelina Jolie are making a mistake by adopting African children, says Canadian pop singer Chantal Kreviazuk.
Kreviazuk - who on Tuesday (June 23) plays a fundraiser in Victoria for War Child Canada - said she believes Madonna and Jolie are well-intentioned, but the celeb adoption trend is merely a Band-Aid solution to a complex problem.
``It's traumatic; the (adopted African children) never truly feel they belong. They always wonder where their siblings are,'' Kreviazuk said in an interview from Los Angeles.
Kreviazuk's performance, along with her husband Raine Maida Our Lady Peace, also features a talk by War Child Canada founder Dr. Samantha Nutt. Unlike typical pop singers who proffer shoot-from-the-hip opinions on politics, Kreviazuk's in a position to know what she's talking about. For a decade she has worked with War Child Canada, an organization providing humanitarian assistance to war-affected children around the world. As well as helping with fundraising, Kreviazuk has visited War Child projects in Asia, Europe and Ethiopia.
Like Madonna and Jolie, she, too, considered adopting after witnessing the plight of orphaned African children. ``But then I changed my mind about international adoption,'' Kreviazuk said.
Instead, Kreviazuk prefers to support such War Child Canada initiatives as one now providing clothing, food, medical aid and educational assistance for 55 young Ethiopians. In many cases, these children took care of AIDS-stricken parents who have since died. Typically, unskilled teens in such a situation - having missed out on high-school educations - turn to prostitution and criminal activity to survive. War Child Canada enables them to stay at home with their siblings.
``The number 1 thing children want when they lose their parents is not to be separated,'' Kreviazuk said.
Madonna recently made international headlines when her bid to adopt a Malawian (southeast Africa) was successful. A Malawi court had previously rejected her petition to adopt the four-year-old. However, Madonna - who promptly forked out $22.5 million Cdn to six orphanages - is now legally the proud mom of Mercy James. (She had already adopted another infant from Malawi, David Banda.)
Easily rivalling such multi-million-dollar-baby shenanigans is movie star Angelina Jolie, who has adopted children from Cambodia, Vietnam and Ethiopia. This trio joins her three biological children. Jolie was reported as saying: ``We have so many kids that we just have year-round birthdays. It's fun, you know?''
At first glance, such efforts seem 100 per cent noble. After all, Madonna's Mercy will join her adoptive mom in New York at her $47-million townhouse with 13 bedrooms and 14 bathrooms. This is an impressive step up from an African orphanage.
Yet not everyone is jumping for joy. Reportedly, Mercy's grandmother didn't want her granddaughter to live with the American pop star who used to cavort in pointy bras. (Mercy's biological mom died soon after she was born. It's not clear why the child was living in a orphanage rather than with grandma.)
Not surprisingly, the grandmother's protest paled when pitted against one of the most powerful celebrities in the world. If anyone doubts today's pop and movie stars wield the clout once possessed by royalty, Madonna's neo- imperialist baby collection settles the question.
Meanwhile, Kreviazuk said the thousands of bucks Jolie blew at the fanciest hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, while on her adoption mission likely rivalled the $200,000 a year it costs to help the 55 young Ethiopians in the War Child Canada program.
``The entire program could have been run by the flight and the nights staying in Ethiopia,'' she said.
Rather than plucking tots from Third World cultures and dipping them in Western opulence, Kreviazuk said, it's preferable to build better social systems in these countries. Adopting children from African orphanages sends an unrealistic message to parents unable to keep them: There's a chance a rich Westerner will miraculously save their child. Such antics also divert attention away from African governments, sometimes more intent on retaining their individual wealth and power than in helping the people.
``That's not progress,'' Kreviazuk said. ``These people need to become sustainable in their own right.''
In talking with Kreviazuk (who speaks so fervently and quickly, it's nearly impossible to get a word in edgewise) one does get the sense she's a zealot. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, yet it can cloud judgment. For instance, Kreviazuk was also critical of Angelina Jolie's film career in which she's ``making movies where (she) shoots up people.'' It's naive to think role choices are any reflection on an actor's private life. Otherwise, Anthony Hopkins wouldn't get invited to many dinner parties.
Kreviazuk also said she makes children attending her own kids' birthday parties (she has three) donate to War Child Canada rather than letting them give conventional gifts. This seems to me a touch grim and humourless - more about adult concerns than those of the children.
Victoria Times Colonist