Is Madonna's Malawi Adoption Crusade Setting a Good Example?

Despite critics, some say Madonna's wish to adopt from Malawi is a good thing.

ByABC News
April 2, 2009, 7:26 AM

April 2, 2009— -- She may have been the biggest selling female pop artist, but these days Madonna is raking in more headlines for her adoption crusade than her music.

Madonna awaits court approval in Malawi on her request to adopt a girl named Mercy James who is reported to be 4 years old. She would be Madonna's fourth child and second from the impoverished African country, but critics accuse her of being a "bully" and collecting children as trinkets.

The Human Rights Consultative Committee, a nongovernmental organization, has also accused Madonna of using her celebrity status to circumvent Malawi law to bring Mercy home faster than traditional process, saying that the children should be kept within their communities.

And still others have condemned Madonna for adopting overseas when there are an estimated half-million children in foster care in the United States.

But not everyone's a critic.

Adoption advocates say that the need to place children in good homes knows no borders.

"I think that this construct of one child versus another is really unhealthy," said Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, a research and advocacy group. "They both need homes -- how can we put one kid against another?"

And while Madonna has been accused of using her celebrity statues to bypass local laws, celebrities bring needed attention to countries like Malawi, where the United Nation estimates that half of the 1 million children who have lost one or both parents have been orphaned by AIDS.

She adopted David, 3, there last year. She also has two other children, Lourdes, 12, and Rocco, 8.

"I think celebrities adopt at the same rate as the rest of the population, just that the rest of the population doesn't have cameras following them around," Pertman said. "It does, ironically at the same time, it normalizes it. 'If Angelina can to it, then so can I.'"

That's exactly how Monica and David Clark got involved in overseas adoptions.

The California couple said David Clark had a dream after hearing about Angelina Jolie's adoption of a little girl from Ethiopia.

"I had a dream and this little girl looked up at me and she said 'Daddy, I need you,'" he said. "I said 'Monica, we have to do something.'"