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Adopting African Babies Is Hip This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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      The latest accessory just set foot on the streets of Tinseltown. This time it is not a pooches wearing designer duds or Ugg boots, but - thanks to the glamorization brought on by Angelina, Brad, and Madonna - the adoption of African babies.

Besides filming blockbusters, attending parties, and signing million-dollar recording contracts (even if they are not singers), celebrities always seem able to squeeze picture-perfect charity deeds into their schedules. Adoption has nabbed the top spot, for the moment, anyway.

Adoption has long been in practice, but now the generous action receives curiously intense media coverage. Without a doubt, the multitude of “AIDS in Africa” headlines fail to inspire fear in American readers because the crisis has been plaguing the region for decades. A recent census estimates the number of orphans residing on the streets of sub-Saharan Africa due to AIDS will increase to a staggering 16 million in the next three years. All the flash-bulbs going off in Africa blind people to a problem in our nation. New York City, Miami, Washington, and Newark house most of the 125,000 children in American foster care, but unfortunately for them, their U.S. address seems to bar them from Hollywood parents.

While celeb-eating paparazzi camp out in front of Namibian adoption agencies and line up at the doors of Oprah’s school for girls, other momentous problems are not only overshadowed, but are pushed to the other side of politicians’ desks. Most notable is Darfur, which has counted 500,000 casualties since a colossal eruption of violence in 2003; both the needed public awareness and funding is available, but despite George Clooney’s efforts, genocide still widely persists.

Most TV-watching Americans view these celebrity endeavors as little more than bandwagon humanitarianism, but many organizations praise their efforts. Although the sincerity of the actions may be arguable, they do generate needed coverage.

Take the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, for example. By teaming up with (Product)RED, the pet project of U2’s knighted frontman, Bono, they reap donations through a selection of (RED) items ranging from cell phones to watches.

Thanks to genius advertisers, individuals can wear their concern through an Inspi(RED) t-shirt from the Gap. If that doesn’t suit their fancy, they can slip on a pair of (RED) Converse and run to the beat of The Killers’ (RED) song, “A Great Big Sled,” blaring from the earphones of their (RED) iPod nano. As for relaxing after a workout, a (RED) candle beside a bathtub adds a nice charitable touch.

Granted, since its debut in 2006, RED’s mission to better this forgotten continent has been relatively successful. The organization has already shelled out funds for year-long anti-retroviral drug treatments for 40,000 women and children. These ARVs slow the progression of HIV, delaying the onset of AIDS for almost 20 years. But the flipside to this charity melting pot derives from the fact that this costly medical care accounts for only a minuscule fraction of a patient’s lifelong treatment package.

The glossy ads spread across the pages of magazines may be uplifting to look at, but how much of the generated profit reaches its destination? Destitute Africa welcomes any money, but on RED’s website, a diagram explains that $10 (from the purchase of a $199 iPod) goes to the Global Fund, all of which is used to “finance health and community support programs ... with a focus on women and children.”

Only time will tell whether the efforts of these badge-of-honor wearing celebrities actually pay off.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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