exposing the dark side of adoption
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New York Post

A child-advocacy group will seek a court injunction tomorrow to halt Madonna's speedy adoption of a 1-year-old African boy.

"It's not like selling property," said a statement by the group, Eye of the Child.

Eye of the Child is the largest children's-rights organization in Malawi, where Madonna and her husband, director Guy Ritchie, were given permission to skirt the country's own laws and adopt the little boy named David last week, according to Sky News.

The demand comes as New York women fume at the A-list adoption. Lauren Noormae has been waiting to adopt a baby for almost two years.

Last week, she learned that Madonna did it in a few days.

But Noormae and her husband, Erik, who live on Long Island, don't have $3 million to donate an orphanage or a private jet to take them to the African country as did Madonna and Ritchie - who already have two children.

Nor would they want to.

Like many of the other New York-area couples seeking to adopt a baby in the United States, they're offended by the Material Girl's methods of motherhood.

"Get in line and fill out the paperwork just like everybody else," says Andrea Marcus, 44, a former advertising executive who's been waiting more than a year. "It gives the institution of adoption a really bad name."

Marcus and her husband, Adam, who works in publishing, have been together for nine years and married for five. When they learned they couldn't have children on their own, they turned to adoption and learned about the long, frustrating process.

Even couples whose first stop is a white-glove adoption agency must, under New York state law, complete a three-month registration with the Department of Child Welfare. Registration includes financial and medical background checks and a criminal check - during which applicants are fingerprinted.

That is followed by filing out reams of paperwork such as family-history forms, personal letters of reference and a social-worker "home study" observation that includes several visits.

Once they're registered, most couples retain a lawyer and place wanted ads on the Internet and in newspapers seeking pregnant women looking to put up their newborns for adoption.

It can take years - and can involve a lot of false hope.

Meanwhile, they're required to renew registration every year and undergo criminal checks for child-abuse reports twice a year.

Dr. Judith Lee, from Advocates for Adoption, a Manhattan agency, says a single adoption costs from $20,000 to $30,000.

"We try and make it as easy as possible for people because we want people to know adoption is a viable option," Lee said.

The Marcuses are one of 40 couples from New York state currently advertising on parentprofiles.com. They already have one adopted son, Aidyn, 5, and have been looking two years for a second child.

Firefighter John Schulken and his wife, Sue, of Farmingville, L.I., said they have spent $17,000 "and a lot of heartache" searching for the past six months for a sibling for their adopted, 18-month-old son, Jack.

When the couple tried to have kids, they discovered they weren't able. They spent a fortune on fertility drugs to no avail. Then they started to research adoption online.

They must post two profiles, one about the wife written by the husband and one about the husband by the wife. If a couple already has children, there must be additional information on them.

Beth and Joe Spinelli have been waiting to adopt since September 2004.

The couple from Lattingtown, L.I., found a daughter 18 months ago after an emotional roller-coaster ride.

"It's humiliating, it's sometimes devastating and it's a very long process," said Beth, 44, adding they had two birth mothers change their mind after they gave their child away - and were once ripped off by a lawyer in Iowa. "There are some sick people out there who prey on vulnerable people like us who so badly want a baby.

"If I had $3 million and I could pay to override the system, why wouldn't I?"

Lynn and Mark, both 40, have been searching for a sibling for their son, Mark, since August 2005, and have had their share of horror stories.

"Two girls we were speaking to miscarried and two girls disappeared - we've probably had every situation you can imagine," said Lynn, of Suffolk County, L.I., who did not want to reveal her last name.

Noormae and her husband are seeking their first child. And they're trying to be patient.

She said of Madonna's swooping up a son, "This ruins it for other people - I think the regulations are needed and rules are rules."

2006 Oct 15