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Malawi: Madonna's adoption woes deepen


Malawi: Madonna's adoption woes deepen

Posted on Wednesday 1 April 2009 - 12:59

Madalitso Kateta, AfricaNews reporter in Lilingwe, Malawi
US pop star Madonna Ciccone will face some very stiff legal battles to adopt a second child - Mercy Chifundo James - from Malawi. Human rights organizations argue that the country's laws clearly state that a single parent cannot adopt a child hence it would be wrong for her to go ahead with her plan.

Magret Alli, Executive Director for the Save Children Malawi, said at a press briefing in Blantyre on Wednesday that while the civil society was not prejudicing the courts, it would be surprising if the courts gave Madonna custody of the child as the Malawi laws are clear on that matter.

The revelation comes in the wake of Madonna’s second bid to adopt another child from Malawi, Mercy James, whom she intends to be a brother to David, another child she adopted from the Southern African country.

Alli said the 1958 child adoption bill had clauses that outlined procedures on inter-country adoption. “The 1958 bill sets out procedures that clearly outline how an international adoption should be handled and one of the provisions is that a person has to be in a stable family and stay in the country for over 18 months before finally taking a child out of the country,” she said.

No passport

Meanwhile, reports reaching AfricaNews say that the US pop star has not started the passport application procedures for her child.

Speaking in an interview from Blantyre, Malawi Immigration public relations officer Pudamsiyana Makalamba said the Malawi immigration authorities have not yet received passport application documents for the four-year-old girl.

She said her office had to yet establish when it receives new applications from Lilongwe late Tuesday. “As of the mean time we have not received any application for the child’s passport,” she said advising our reporter to check on her later in the day.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) in Malawi has asked pop star Madonna to look at her second adoption of a Malawian child with a human face and not just another celebrity stunt.


The civil society press briefing nearly turned into a brawl between journalists and representatives of the country’s civil society groups as the media felt that the civil society groupings were just trying to boost their image and please their donors.

However, the situation normalized when the African Network for Protection and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPCAN) Malawi Chapter’s Executive Director, Ken Williams Mhango, clarified that the civil society position was not tantamount to opposing the proposed adoption of Mercy by Madonna, but rather to put sanity in the whole process.

“The civil society in the country has been very proactive in the formulation of bills that are to make sure that children in the country are not just adopted like this. All we are saying is that our laws are weak, and one day some international vandals may come and say, just like Madonna, I want to adopt a child here (in Malawi)’” he said.

He said Madonna had to realize that human beings are not commodities that can be disposed of anyhow on the market.

“We don’t blame the star, but we feel that our politicians are also to blame as they spent much of their time in the recently dissolved parliament quarrelling and not deliberating on national issues like the draft adoption laws,” he said.

Malawian orphanages are reported to be poorly equipped to take care of children as they often lack the basic necessities like good shelter and food. Some children have in the recent past been reported to have gone without food for two days on end.

2009 Apr 1