Maternal instinct

The other day one of my friends was talking about how she would like another baby – a brother or sister for her three boys. 'Why don't you adopt?' asked another friend, a mum of two who works in social services. 'There are so many needy children out there who need homes, it's heartbreaking.'

She's right, of course, and when you're a mum you do feel guilty that your child should have so much love and security when other children have nothing.

That's why I can, in a way, understand Madonna's urge to adopt Mercy James. When you're so rich it must feel natural to want to spread the wealth.

Two of my friends were adopted because their birth parents were unfit/unwilling to care for them, and they've definitely had much better lives as a result.

But I'm growing increasingly uncomfortable with the way the adoption has been handled. Someone as powerful as Madonna could surely adopt in private, as the actor Ewan McGregor did a few years ago. And I'd also like to know why it wasn't possible for Madonna to go and and bring Mercy back to the UK herself – reportedly sending a nanny and an entourage of staff.

A few years ago another Hollywood A-lister, the actress Jamie Lee Curtis, an adoptive mum of two, wrote the children's book 'Tell Me Again About The Night I Was Born' (available from Waterstones). Of course, being written by an American film star, it's a bit sugary and sentimental, but it does include some genuinely touching moments, including the sentence, 'tell me again how you carried me like a china doll all the way home.'

One look at the bewildered expression on little Mercy's face tells you she's as fragile and precious as a china doll. I do hope she's happy in her new home.

written by Liz Jarvis