Sunday, April 12, 2009


The singer/actress Madonna is in the news again with another attempt to adopt a child from Malawi. In 2006 her adoption of a Malawian boy drew press scrutiny, and the public's ire, amid suggestions that the adoption process might have been unfairly expedited due to her celebrity status and to lavish gifts she had given to the country.

When I asked my readers about the propriety of that first adoption, some were outraged that the adoption process might have been speeded up because it was Madonna applying. Others believed that because the cause was virtuous -- "saving that child from poverty and disease," one reader wrote -- any criticism was unwarranted.

The press coverage this time around has been equally vigorous, and at this writing it seems that she will be unsuccessful in a second adoption.

So here's my question for you: Regardless of her celebrity status, in a matter such as this -- the adoption of a child -- should Madonna's privacy be respected? Or do the press and the public have a right to the inside scoop on her adoption?

Post your thoughts here by clicking on "comments" or "post a comment" below. Please include your name, hometown, and state, province, or country. Readers' comments may appear in an upcoming column. Or e-mail your comments to me at

You can also respond to the poll with this question that will appear on the right-hand side of the blog until polling is closed.

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business (Smith Kerr, 2006), is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics. He is also the administrator of The Right Thing, a Web log focused on ethical issues.

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to or to "The Right Thing," The New York Times Syndicate, 500 Seventh Avenue, 8th floor, New York, NY 10018. Please remember to tell me who you are, where you're from, as well as where you read the column.

c.2009 The New York Times Syndicate (Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate)


Elian said...

Until Madonna publishes a book entitled Adoption to follow up her autophotographic book Sex, I think that she's foregone any right to privacy.

Kenney said...

Elian is correct. Adoption should be private, but she chooses to put her life on display continually. And she has a history of following fads and trends (she never starts one) and leaving them behind once the cameras are gone. There's no reason to doubt that this is just another passing fancy for her. By "outing" her in advance, perhaps we can save a child who likely will be adopted by a genuinely caring parent from becoming another of Madonna's moments.