Many questions arise from Angelina Jolie's trip to Ethiopia earlier this month to adopt a baby girl. (For one, does her accompaniment by Brad Pitt make this another officially unofficial Brangelina event?) But the thing we apparently needn't fuss over is motive: Jolie continues to walk the walk when it comes to her caring for the fate of the Third World, having adopted her toddler son, Maddox, in 2002 after meeting him as an infant in a Cambodian orphanage. Her new daughter, whom she's naming Zahara Marley Jolie, was reportedly orphaned by the AIDS epidemic.
People (as in the species, but also the magazine) want to know all sorts of things that Jolie may eventually get around to sharing: How long did she have to wait to adopt Zahara; how do these things get arranged for a movie star versus how they get arranged for the rest of us; why did Pitt come along if he's not anything more than an occasional boyfriend, etc.?
But none of the above are my question: Given the special challenges adopted children can face in making sense of how they ended up being loved by an adoptive parent, how much more complicated is it to accept that the person who became "Mom" also happens to be at the center of the global fame game. If Lourdes Ciccone (Madonna's first child) had a moment when she realized her birth mother was "Madonna" (and all that this entails, and how life is organized around that fact first), how much weirder will that moment be for Zahara, who cannot fall back on genetic destiny to explain the incalculable odds of her situation? A small child at the center of a desperate throng of anonymous multitudes, plucked by fate and placed into . . . a mother's arms . . . and the news wires . . . and the photographs to come in movie-star mags.
Clearly, even this is worlds better than life as an orphan amid a fatal epidemic. But common sense suggests that Zahara will still have to face the challenge of that other international scourge: celebrity.