I am disappointed. Disappointed at a lost opportunity.
This morning, over a cup of coffee, I read this headline in the Hollywood Reporter.
Jillian Michaels Warns Against International Adoption Unless You Have ‘A Lot Of Money’
In the current issue of Prevention Magazine, Michaels, a former trainer on The Biggest Loser, discusses the difficulties she’s had adopting internationally. She left the TV reality show last December and this February announced she was adopting a child from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Celebrity adoptions are not uncommon. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have adopted children from Cambodia, Ethiopia, and Vietnam. Madonna controversially adopted a boy from Malawi. Meg Ryan adopted a baby girl from China, and Katherine Heigl adopted a special needs daughter from Korea.
When celebrities adopt internationally, the spotlight on international adoption can either create negative publicity, as in the case of Madonna, or it can help educate and highlight the positive aspects of the process.
Unfortunately, Michaels’ recent comments may do more harm than good. She is clearly having a difficult time with her adoption. But, all international adoptive parents know how difficult it can be, how long it can take, and how it feels to have their life controlled by a foreign government. So, it was no surprise to me when it was reported Michaels seemed “more fatigued in this [Prevention Magazine] interview than ever before.”
I sympathize with Michaels. I know exactly what she’s going through, but I find it disappointing she chose to use her celebrity to “caution others who may not have the same financial resources as her against it.” In the interview, she says that adopting internationally requires “tremendous patience and financial resources because it’s going to cost a lot of money. If you don’t have those two things, go domestic.” As if domestic adoptions are cheap, the majority of domestic adoptions cost between $25,000 and $30,000.
I am disappointed with Michaels because I wish she’d taken this opportunity to share her experience rather than make such an unfortunate statement. The process, the paperwork, and the waiting IS difficult. Completing a dossier IS a full-time job until it is signed, apostilled, and delivered.
And it is expensive. The average cost for an international adoption ranges from $20,000-$30,000. But, it’s not impossible. Over 11,000 children were adopted internationally in 2011.
Not everyone has a celebrity-sized bank account. Those wanting to adopt internationally can get very financially creative, from taking second mortgages, to fund raising, to finding adoption grants. It’s not easy, but it can be done.
Jillian Michaels has made a career out of helping others with their health and fitness. She is an advocate for living a healthy lifestyle. But she has disappointed me as an advocate for international adoption.
I wish she had used her platform to share her fears and struggles with international adoption. She would have helped so many people who are in the process. She had the opportunity to reach out to others and lessen the sense of isolation so many adoptive parents feel.
My biggest fear is her comments will discourage people from adopting internationally. I pray this won’t happen because it would be a tragedy for the process, the families, and most especially, the children.
I wish Michaels all the best in the completion of her adoption. Perhaps her next interview won’t be such a lost opportunity.