Judge rejects Madonna's adoption efforts in Malawi

April 3, 2009 / CBC News

A judge in Malawi has rejected pop singer Madonna's application to adopt a second child in the country on residency grounds.

Judge Esme Chombo, based in the capital of Lilongwe, stated that prospective parents must be a resident of Malawi for 18 to 24 months before they are able to adopt, sources told the Associated Press.

The residency rule was waived in Madonna's first Malawi adoption in 2006, when she was allowed to take her adopted son, David Banda, to London before his adoption was finalized in 2008.

It was not clear why Chombo ruled differently Friday. Another judge had handled Madonna's previous adoption case.

Madonna, 50, was not in court on Friday and it is not yet clear if she intends to appeal the decision. Her lawyer was not immediately available for comment.

The singer had filed an application to adopt a three-year-old girl whose mother died soon after childbirth in the African nation. The child's name is listed on the court application as Chifundo James.

In court papers made public Friday, Madonna said Chifundo's grandmother was unable to care for her.

Madonna had promised to make the child a permanent part of her family and spare her the "hardship and emotional trauma" of life as an orphan.

The girl's mother, according to the affidavit, died at age 14 just days after her baby was born Jan. 22, 2006. There was no mention of the father in the affidavit, but the mother's brother is listed as having consented to the adoption.

'I am able and willing to securely provide for Chifundo James'

"I am able and willing to securely provide for Chifundo James and make her a permanent and established member of my family," Madonna said in the document. "To deny Chifundo James the opportunity to be adopted by me could expose her to hardship and emotional trauma which is otherwise avoidable."

Madonna has faced criticism — including from child advocacy and human rights groups — when she adopted David. After the child's biological mother died, his father was unable to care for him and had turned him over to an orphanage.

Madonna also has a daughter, Lourdes, from a previous relationship and a son, Rocco, from her recently ended marriage to filmmaker Guy Ritchie.

Critics have blasted the American singer for her adoption efforts and have accused her of using her celebrity to fast-track or bypass the Malawian adoption process.

However, some in Malawi support the adoption as well as Madonna's charitable efforts in the southeastern African nation, which include raising funds for food, shelter, education and health care for Malawian children.

Malawi's child welfare minister had endorsed Madonna's second adoption application.

"We have close to two million orphans in Malawi who need help," said Anna Kachikho, minister for women and child welfare development. "We can't look after all of them as a country. If people like Madonna adopt even one such orphan, it's one mouth less we have to feed."



I am quite glad people are finally beginning to see how the show of money should NOT make it easier for a person to take adopt a child, especially if that child is going to be taken to another country.  Those who follow the news about child trafficking understand how fast-tracking can lead to many wrong-doings.  In fact, I think the following statement made by Judge Chondo says it best:

"By removing the very safeguard that is supposed to protect our children, the courts by their pronouncements could actually facilitate trafficking of children by some unscrupulous individuals who would take advantage of the weakness of the law of the land.

"I must confess that there is a gripping temptation to throw caution to the wind and grant an adoption in the hope that there will be a difference in the life of just one child. However, it should be borne in mind that inter-country adoptions may not (be) and are not the only solution."  [From:  "Madonna adoption 'could have encouraged child trafficking', Anita Singh, April 3, 2009, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/celebritynews/madonna/5099421/Madonna-adoption-could-have-encouraged-child-trafficking.html]


Save the children from Save the Children from Save the Children

It's good to see the judge in Malawi has more wisdom than the following US scholars and representatives from the Adoption industry, that yesterday launched an initiative called Save the Children from Save the Children:

Paulo Barrozo, Assistant Professor of Law
Boston College

Elizabeth Bartholet, Professor of Law & Faculty Director Child Advocacy Program
Harvard Law School

Cassie Statuto Bevan, Ed.D, Fellow
The Field Center for Children's Policy, Practice & Research
University of Pennsylvania

Jessica Budnitz, Lecturer on Law & Managing Director, Child Advocacy Program
Harvard Law School

Lauren Cleary, Public Health Attorney

Joan H. Hollinger, Professor, Lecturer-in-Residence
Berkeley School of Law, University of California

Chuck Johnson, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
National Council For Adoption

Diane B. Kunz, Esq., Executive Director
Center for Adoption Policy

Mark T. McDermott, Esq.
Law Office of Mark T. McDermott
Past President of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys

Ann Reese, Executive Director
Center for Adoption Policy

William Rosen, Esq., Adoption Attorney
Fellow of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys

Jerome Shestack
Former President, American Bar Association
Co-Chair and Founder, American Bar Association Human Rights Center

Hannah Wallace, President
Focus on Adoption (An International Adoption Advocacy Organization)

In an effort to shine their infinite wisdom over adoptions in Malawi, the cream of the crop of US adoption policy makers came up with the following statement:

This week a Malawi court will make a life-changing decision about Mercy James. Will Mercy be allowed to grow up in a permanent family with Madonna as her adoptive mother?

Spokesman for Save the Children, UK, Dominic Nutt, says that Mercy and other children in her position should remain in a Malawi orphanage. For no better reason than that these children may have living relatives, he believes that they should always remain in their original communities. Unfortunately, Nutt ignores the fact that these children's presence in an orphanage is the surest indication that their relatives are deceased or, if alive, unable to care for them.

The usual justification for Save the Children's approach is that children who remain in their country of origin can enjoy their racial, ethnic and national heritage. But children doomed to grow up in orphanages or on the streets cannot expect to enjoy their cultural heritage in any meaningful way. And the real choice today for most existing homeless children in most of the countries of the world is between life - and often death - in orphanages or on the streets in their home country and, for a lucky few, life in an adoptive home abroad. Research on children who started their early life in orphanages demonstrates vividly the damage such institutions do.

International Adoption has come under fire recently from UNICEF and others who share Save the Children's views. But International Adoption provides children the possibility of finding the permanent nurturing homes they need to thrive, homes that are typically simply not available in their countries of origin. And International Adoption is completely consistent with other positive social responses to the problems of unparented children, bringing new resources into poor countries to support such efforts, and developing new awareness of and concern for the plight of poor children and poor communities worldwide

We are not in possession of all the facts relevant to appropriate resolution of Mercy's particular case. But we urge policy-makers, including judges making decisions in such cases, to review and consider the International Adoption Policy Statement and Supporting Report, endorsed by the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, the Center for Adoption Policy, the Harvard Law School Child Advocacy Program, and the National Council For Adoption - click here.

It's good to see the Judge Chondo has more common sense and a better understanding of what is important for the well being and safety of the children in her country than the Professors, Directors and Presidents that signed this excuse to expand corrupt child placement practices to the poorest countries in the world.

Simple Math

Well, if your income was coming from grants, donations and eager people (PAP's) wanting to help improve the little lives no government wants, wouldn't YOU want to keep the steady flow of children going?  Like it or not the child placement system depends on private investors and buyers, so it's not at all surprising that the American government loves adoption services.   Provide a service, and get paid for it.  Unfortunately, not every state/private agency is thinking about the long-term needs of each child....not every service benefits the child and family-in-need... and I can't help but think this is proving to be a really HUGE (costly) problem.

Madonna, the material girl,

Madonna, the material girl, is going to appeal the decision. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090403/ap_on_en_mu/af_malawi_madonna_adopti...


Here's a new twist: Truth or Tabloid?

I was reading today that Mercy's father has come to claim his daughter:  We find dad of tot Mercy James, who Madonna wants to adopt.

It seems this story (Mercy's father has been found) is spreading like wild-fire within the internet.... but just how true is, one can only speculate right now.

Pound Pup Legacy