Inside a celebrity adoption: Misconceptions and hurdles famous faces may meet

There have been many celebrities through the years who have turned to adoption to expand their families, with Madonna, Lionel Richie, Viola Davis and Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt among them.

Some have shone a light on their experiences publicly, discussing why they went through the route of adoption, and their journey to add to their brood.

For our ongoing Adoption Month series, we took a look inside a celebrity adoption, including the pitfalls and common misconceptions those in the public eye may face.

Leading family law barrister Paula Rhone-Adrien was on hand to discuss what the public may not see, insisting that there is no preferential treatment involved for A-listers.

‘There is nothing special about a celebrity adopter that would necessitate a different approach to someone who wasn’t in the public eye,’ she told Metro.co.uk.

‘What is special is that a child, who can no longer be cared for by his or her birth parent(s), is able to find a nurturing and loving home, a forever family. 

‘The impression given is that, one day the celebrity wakes up and decides they want a child, click their fingers and the deed is done, but this isn’t the case. 

‘In fact, it is probably even more onerous upon the agency that is assisting them in the adoption process to prove beyond doubt that any necessary assessment and the paperwork involved is as it absolutely should be, for fear someone will complain or cry foul play.’

A common misconception is that celebrities get preferential treatment in all walks of life – but it turns out it is just the opposite.

They have even more questions to answer over the stability they can provide, the lifestyle they live and whether it is a sound environment for a child.

The process of adopting a child can be a very long one, with assessments and paperwork that could take months – or even years – to complete.

An international adoption has even more rules that need to be followed and red tape before a child is placed.

And Paula emphasised that there have been times where adoptive placements have broken down – while in other cases, a child may not find a home with a potential adoptive parent who has already started to ‘fall in love’ with them.

‘Anyone who has gone through the adoption process will tell you that it is one of the hardest, but most rewarding things they will ever do,’ she continued. 

‘The pain and elation no doubt mirroring that felt by a parent welcoming a biological child. The process can easily take as long, and sadly does not always end up with a child being placed in your care, a child you may have already started to fall in love with. 

‘Adoption agencies take great care in ensuring that a child is matched with an adult who can meet that child’s specific needs. There are no stats on how many adoptive placements break down, but we know that they do.

‘There are no stats on how many adoptive placements break down, but we know that they do, the Myka Stauffer story was an insight into what was a harrowing story for all.

‘There are a number of myths around what may hinder your application to adopt a child, for example, if you are on benefits or single, again adding to the impression that it’s easier for a celebrity, but this isn’t necessarily true. 

‘Each adoption agency will have its own rules and guidelines, but these must be fair and have the welfare of a child at its heart.’

In England and Wales, any court procedure where a child is concerned is confidential, and cases are subject to strict rules on the proceedings.

However, in the case of a celebrity adoption, this can be hard to adhere to – with a child unintentionally thrown into the spotlight because of who their parents or guardians are.

This can sometimes impact the process, with some adoptive parents changing their minds or being turned away.

‘Any court procedure where a child is concerned in England and Wales is confidential, but a celebrity is not going to be able to disguise the fact that one day they were childless and the next day they have two,’ Paula said. 

‘So when considering to adopt, although the process in England should be confidential, the reality is that the child will face a level of scrutiny that it never had to before and so this will have to be considered by the agency who is assessing the celebrity.

‘Is that celebrity ready and able to manage that aspect of protective parenting required for their special child?’

But, at the end of the day, the only thing that really matters is the needs of a child – and whether they can be met in the best way.

‘Subconscious bias may work against some celebrities if they are well known – people feel they already know them, and negative stories can set people against them from the start,’ Cara Nuttall, a partner at JMW Solicitors, added.

‘As long as the child’s physical needs are met, a grander, more luxurious lifestyle is not going to be a determining factor. 

‘The court is more concerned with love and emotional support and how their roots and origins will be nurtured and supported. It doesn’t take huge amounts of money to be a good parent.’

Adoption Month

Adoption Month is a month-long series covering all aspects of adoption.

For the next four weeks, which includes National Adoption Week from October 14-19, we will be speaking to people who have been affected by adoption in some way, from those who chose to welcome someone else’s child into their family to others who were that child.

We’ll also be talking to experts in the field and answering as many questions as possible associated with adoption, as well as offering invaluable advice along the way.

If you have a story to tell or want to share any of your own advice please do get in touch at [email protected]

  • Why we’re talking about adoption this month
  • How to adopt a child – from how long it takes to how you can prepare
  • The most Googled questions on adoption, answered
  • How long does it take to adopt a child in the UK
  • Adoption myths that could be stopping you from starting a family
  • How to tell your child they are adopted 

Visit our Adoption Month page for more.

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