I first started writing this blog within a few days of reading a ‘breaking’ story in the world’s media. Hold the presidential election in the US, hold the plans for grammar schools in England, because Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are getting a divorce!
Admittedly, after a stressful day at work, I’d rather read about the latter than the former, in a bid to enjoy a little escapism and to focus on someone else’s stress for a change, but the downside of reading about these celebrity dramas, is that I always end up getting caught up in the comments and responses to these breaking stories.
As with the split of any couple – celebrity or suburban – everyone has an opinion, and everyone apparently knows more about what’s going on in that relationship than the pair themselves. It’s gossip, and as with any love or sex story, there’s always more than enough scope for scandal. ‘Brex-Pitt’, or ‘Brange-Leaver’, or whatever you want to call it, was no exception, and it was only a matter of time before the Jolie-Pitt children were dragged into media matters.
I would say it’s fairly well-known that the Jolie-Pitts are synonymous with the process of adoption, as well as having their own birth-children, bringing their total count of family infants to six. This in itself warrants some kind of medal, in my opinion, but more importantly, I’ve always thought it’s wonderful that the couple chose in the first place to adopt during their plans to grow their family over the years.
A parental split, in particular a legal divorce, will always be hard on any children involved, regardless of age or circumstance. I believe that all endings, no matter how positive in the bigger picture, will always carry a degree of lament, but likewise, I have never believed that a couple – married or otherwise – should stay together purely for the sake of the kids. I should of course mention that I fully understand anybody who does indeed choose to do this! What annoyed me in this particular instance though, was some of the backlash against the Jolie-Pitts regarding the predicted effect that their divorce would have on their children.
It seemed to me, that with exclamations such as “You can’t adopt a child and then split up!” and “Haven’t those kids already gone through enough upheaval with their natural parents?” were incredibly wide of the mark. In reading through the comments, responses and even the journalistic takes from some of the reporters, there seems to be a train of thought that expects adoptive parents and foster parents to be exempt from the opportunity to divorce or split from a partnership should the need arise.
No matter how secure the start to their life is, all children and young people will at some point be faced with elements in their lives that are unsettled, unplanned and counter-intuitive to what a picture-perfect life should look like (if that picture even exists?), but just because a couple have adopted or fostered a child, this does not mean they are not allowed to make the same life choices that natural parents have the right to make in times of despair or difficulty.
Divorce or the break-up of parents will be hard for any child, but if done with respect for the kids in question, if it’s the best decision for the parents then it’s the best decision for the children – whether natural, adopted or fostered.
Foster parents and adoptive parents are human beings, and I hope that one day the cynics out there will realise that instead of criticising them for doing something that other ‘normal’ parents are freely allowed to do as a matter of course, they will praise them for the fact that they’ve provided a child with a loving family in the first place.