The Year of the Baby

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Paradoxically, during the year 2006 as teen births and abortions continued to decline, there was a surging tide of celebrity babies. They were all the rage. It remains to be seen whether the saturation point has been reached one would certainly think so or whether, like American Idol, this trend has yet to reach its peak.

A great many of the celebrity parents remain unmarried – virtually the norm these days among celebrities, particularly the “beautiful people.” Does anyone think it is mere coincidence that unwed births driven by women 20 and older climbed to an unprecedented 37 percent rate during the current baby boom among celebrity moms?

Tabloid magazines featured picture after picture of various actresses with a “bump” current lingo for showing a pregnancy. Sometimes such pictures were accompanied by speculation about whether the “bump” really was a pregnancy or if the actress was actually in need of a personal trainer, but generally pregnancy among entertainers was a cause for fascination and celebration.

Often the magazines included before and after pictures, noting which celebrity was quickest in getting back in shape after giving birth. There were detailed descriptions about how each one regained her figure typically including a full-time personal trainer and nearly all-day workouts in a private home gym.

Anticipation mounted when Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, two of the hottest actors in Hollywood whose torrid romance filled the gossip columns, escaped the paparazzi by waiting out her pregnancy in Namibia. In between shooting movies, they frequently travel the world for humanitarian purposes with the two older adopted children (Maddox, 5, from Cambodia and Zahara, 2, from Ethiopia) and their 7-month-old baby, Shiloh. They have no plans to marry, but are parenting together . . . so far.

Not to be outdone in the matter of foreign adoptions, Madonna adopted a 15-month-old boy from Malawi. Madonna’s adoption, though it grabbed the spotlight briefly, produced a backlash, unleashing a harsh barrage of international criticism and condemnation instead of the praise heaped on “Brangelina.” According to the gossip rags, Britney Spears, now divorcing Kevin Federline, is considering an international adoption to add to her two children born less than a year apart.

Earlier in the year, Donald Trump’s third wife, 36-year-old Melania, produced a new baby boy (appropriately called “Barron”) for the 60-year-old tycoon some of whose other children are older than Melania. The tabloids report that the baby’s nursery takes up an entire floor of the family’s New York penthouse. Is this for the benefit of the child or the parents’ egos?

Heidi Klum, the supermodel married to the multi-talented musician and photographer known by a single name, Seal, has three children: a new baby, a one-year-old and a two-year old. They consider themselves “truly blessed” to have three healthy children and are said to have “always wanted” a home “filled with children’s laughter.”

Brooke Shields gave birth to her second child, a boy, on the very same day that Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise’s baby, a girl named Suri, was born. The Holmes-Cruise baby was shielded from the press from April through October causing speculation that something was wrong with the infant. Finally, pictures were produced to reveal a healthy baby girl with a full head of dark brown hair. The couple married later in the year at Odescalchi Castle in Italy where baby Suri “cooed” during the ceremony.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s newborn son, Moses, joined an older sister, Apple. Matt Lauer and his wife welcomed a son. Actress Maggie Gyllenhaal gave birth to a daughter, Matt and Luciana Damon welcomed a son. Joely Fisher had a daughter with an audience of eight family members watching the birth. Gwen Stefani welcomed her first child, a boy, and Meg Ryan adopted a daughter.

Given the volume of cover stories and pictures in the various supermarket tabloids, it is obvious that the public’s fascination with these pregnancies, adoptions and births is virtually insatiable. But, while the interest in pregnancies, births and newborns is high, marriage, if it occurs, is something of an “if or maybe” afterthought. The indisputable fact is that these children, even with all their obvious material advantages, need a married mother and father in order to have the best odds of healthy development. In this era of drugs and promiscuous sex, growing up well-adjusted even in a home where the parents’ love and commitment are rock solid is enough of a challenge for a kid, but Brad Pitt, when asked when he and Angelina planned to get married, declared that they would not marry until everyone who wished to could get married a politically correct response that dodged the essential question of his own children’s well-being by harping on another contemporary celebrity cause, same-sex marriage.

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