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Northern Chiefs call for an end to adoption practices



Some chiefs in the Northern Region recently called for the abolition of practice of adoption and expressed anger with the practice particularly the provision in the adoption law that hands adopting parents complete ownership of the adoptees.

The chiefs expressed the anger in Mzuzu at a function organised by The Law Commission aimed at getting views from civil society on what should be included in the reviewed and Adoption Law which is being tailored ‘to reflect modern issues.’

“Adoption should end; it’s like selling a thing that does not speak. Orphans always have relatives and whatever law we implement, it will always bring us problems in the future,” said Inkosi Mtwalo of Mzimba.

T/A Mwakaboko of Karonga said he understood the idea of adoption but did not like the permanent ownership of by others rather than natural parents.

“Just look at Jumani [Johansson]. We are having problems now because his name was changed and his natural parents cut off,” said Mwakaboko.

He, however, said whoever puts his child for adoption should not demand tokens because assistance rendered to the child is enough for the parent to be thankful.

T/A Marlowe of Rumphi said he was against the permanent ownership phrase in the law and said those wishing to adopt should only assist in providing for the child. T/A Mkumpha 3 of Likoma and Chizumulu Islands shared the view.

However, Alan Chinula, a commissioner in the exercise, said the chiefs’ fears are baseless since the child can choose to go back to their parents after reaching maturity age.

He added that the new adoption law would make it tougher for foreigners to adopt in Malawi saying child shopping would end and that the matching process would be emphasised.

He asked government to adopt the Hague Convention which he said would be an additional tool in the adoption exercise as it centralises adoption and reinforces the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

Social workers who attended the function accused chiefs of hypocrisy saying they were just defensive adding that they were not looking after the children in the villages.

The current Adoption of Children Act was enacted in 1929; a law which, chairperson of the Special Law Commission on the Adoption Act, Justice Esme Chombo, said is too old and doesn’t reflect issues like HIV, poverty and modernity.