You've heard the criticisms. Perhaps some of you out there have even made them: Celebrities adopt children from China and Africa as trendy accessories. They adopt because American kids aren't good enough. Or skinny screen goddesses adopt to preserve their perfect, surgically-enhanced figures. In fact, adoption is a rank expression of narcissism. And us regular folks who adopt internationally? We're guilty of it all, plus pathetically trying to be like Angelina.
Although I don't buy into the slurs, I have to confess, my favorite celebrity parents are the ones who keep their children out of the spotlight. For example, did you know that actor Ewan McGregor has an adopted daughter from Mongolia? Probably not. Then again, as famous as young Obi-Wan Kenobi may be, he can fly under the radar more easily than a mega-star parent like Madonna. You can't always tell who's being hounded by the paparazzi vs. who's courting them vs. whose kid isn't in the magazine because mom is no longer a hot tabloid commodity, but when I suspect that a celebrity is using her adopted child as a publicity ploy, it makes me uncomfortable on multiple levels. I don't like to feel judgmental about someone when I'm in no position to know the truth of their situation. I also don't want to see a child exploited, and more often than not, celebrity parenting stories just rub me the wrong way (even when they're not about adoption.)
Which brings me to actress Katherine Heigl. While I'm not a huge fan of her work, I love that she's one of those rare stars who speaks without a filter and frequently sticks her foot in her mouth. She may lean obnoxious at times, but she's always candid and never canned. She and her husband, singer-songwriter Josh Kelley, adopted their daughter Naleigh from South Korea in 2009. Heigl has been outspoken about the adoption, sharing that her wish to adopt a child was driven by the fact that her older sister, Meg, was also adopted from South Korea. Given that personal, lifelong connection to adoption, I've never had the sense that Heigl was milking her parenthood for publicity -- until I heard she and Kelley had opted to make their daughter the star of his latest music video.
I was prepared to hate the video for "Naleigh Moon" -- until I watched it. The song is a sweet homage to fatherhood, and suffused with love. In this brave new world of social media, where the Facebook timeline begins at birth, every parent, adoptive or not, is now forced to make tough choices about way they represent their children in media. I personally choose not to put my adopted children's images publicly on line; I think I would have made the same choice for biological children if I'd had them. Others feel differently. Some parents share out of love, some for less noble reasons, and in this way, the stars really are like us -- although only a Hollywood mom wears heels and a Mad Men-style sheath to take her kid to the park. Check out the video below.