Madonna & the Malawi Adoption

‘m wondering if some of this Malawi adoption bru-ha-ha is the result of cultural differences.

It is my understanding that it is a common practice, at least in West Africa, for others to “adopt” children.

These children live with and are reared by the adoptive parents, usually a relative and usually grandparents. They are taught who their biological parents are, spend time with them, etc. The biological parents also usually contribute financially, if possible, for the children’s upkeep. The children are expected to return “home” to their biological parents when they come of age.

When I asked about this practice, I was told this has been going on for generations and is widely accepted. For in this way, those of childbearing age, who may not necessarily be the best child-rearers can bear children and keep the family going, and are allowed to be young adults, hang out, party, sow their wild seeds (both men AND women), grow and mature. The children receive attention, nurturing and support from those who have the time and are willing to give it to them. It’s looked upon as help – not as giving up your child forever!

Given what this father supposedly said, I wonder if he was making that assumption, that US or Western adoption followed the same customs?

Where’d I get my information? Personal experience. Read on.

The first time I went to Africa I spent time in Ghana. I had the opportunity to talk daily with our driver Salife Aburu of Cowlane Accra. I was there in ’92 with my father and Uncle Pete, who is a professor emeritus of Metallurgy at Berkeley. Uncle Pete had invited any family to come spend time with him towards the end of his trip. For several months he taught at Ile-Ife in Nigeria, then he planned to be a tourist for the last part of his stay going also to Ghana, Senegal and Goree Island, where he’d then depart for California and we’d return home to Chicago.

The plan was for Dad to join Uncle Pete in Nigeria for his last week there. I would join them for about 3 days in Nigeria, where there was a big celebration planned for my uncle’, and then we’d all then go on to Ghana. Well on the day Dad arrived, the military government declared the recently held election as fraudulent, keeping themselves in power, which many people didn’t appreciate and major rioting began. They were advised that if anyone who didn’t need to be there, GET OUT! So Daddy and Uncle Pete ended up dashing out of Nigeria, making their way to Ghana earlier than planned. (Dash – is a another word for bribe.)

Since I was keeping my eye on activities in Africa so when the coup happened, I was most concerned that they were safe. Dad called me about the 2nd day after the coup and told me they were OK, in Ghana and I should meet them in Ghana instead of coming to Nigeria. He also told me that they had to pay to get out of the country. I wasn’t happy about missing the party, yet I was thrilled they were safe.

Once in Accra, I spent a lot of time asking Salife questions about daily life, i.e., work, education, relationships, entertainment, what people did for fun, etc. So he would answer my questions and eventually once he realized I was genuinely interested in his answers, Salife took me around to the night clubs, restaurants, the movie house, swimming holes and then 2 days before I was leaving he took me to his brother’s home, family home, and his aunties’ home where I met his twin daughters who had indeed been brought up by his ‘aunties’!!!

I witnessed and was impressed by the love, affection and respect they had for their father, even though he didn’t raise them. When I asked them about it, they looked as me astoundedly and responded, “He’s our father!” They then explained that theyhad always known who their parents were, spent time with them, but they knew they “lived” with their aunties. And it didn’t seem strange to them because most other children they grew up with were being raised the same way!

P.S. Salife and his wife, the twins mother, were divorced when I met him.

P.S.S. Uncle Pete reminded me that he and my father and their siblings were brought up that same way!!! They lived with relatives, too. In fact, my father as a teen came to Chicago and lived with my Uncle Teddy. Wow.

Filed under: Global Community

Fatal error: Call to undefined function get_link_summary() in /home/content/49/3801749/html/wp-content/themes/personal/single.php on line 39