8 February 2017

Malawi: Madonna Under Fire for Using Celebrity Status to Skirt Malawi Laws to Adopt Children

Photo: Madonna/Instagram
Madonna in Malawi (file photo).

American pop diva Madonna has come under intense fire for using his celebrity status to skirt round the Malawi laws in her bid to adopt twin girls Esther and Stella Mwale.

The High Court in Lilongwe on Tuesday allowed Madonna to adopt twin four year girls from Mchinji even though the pop diva is not a resident of Malawi.

The laws strictly sas only residents of Malawi can adopt children in this impoverished southern African country.

However, Judiciary spokesperson Mlenga Mvula said the judge hearing the adoption case found that Madonna would look after the children well even though she is not resident in Malawi.

Madonna's lawyer in Malawi, Titus Mvalo, said the 58-year-old singer showed to the High Court judge Fiona Mwale how she is looking after two children adopted from Malawi, David Banda in 2006 and Mercy James in 2009 .

The twins are being adopted from the Home of Hope orphanage in Mchinji, near the western border with Zambia, where David Banda once lived. Their mother died when they were just months old.

A lawyer for Madonna in Malawi, Titus Mvalo said Madonna has demonstrated over the years that "she has passion for Malawi and her children, " and therefore the High Court was "satisfied " that she is suitable to forthe adoption of the twins.

The adoption is conditional on Madonna proving she will provide a suitable home for Esther and Stella who will join David Banda and Mercy James, Rocco, from her marriage to Guy Ritchie, and Lourdes, from a previous relationship.

Dominic Misomali, a government-appointed guardian, will travel with Madonna, Stella and Esther to the US and observe how she looks after them, before reporting back to the government.

Meanwhile, an uncle of Madonna's adopted daughter Mercy has told he family of the twins that it will be "as if [their] children have died".

According to the UK Mail Online, in a message to the twins' family, Mercy's uncle Peter Banet warned: "You may never see your children again, never have contact with them. It will be as if your children have died. That is the pain we feel every day.

"I put my hand up in court, swore an oath and signed the adoption consent. I can never forgive myself for that, and there is sadness and disappointment throughout my family. I have to take the blame. I am ashamed."

Banet, whose 14-year-old sister, Mwandida, died after giving birth, told the paper his family has not seen Mercy, now ten, since she was taken to New York in 2009.

She has been taken on "cultural visits" to Malawi but her family has never been informed.

They claim to have been "tricked" into believing Mercy would stay in touch and one day return home.

Her uncle added: "We want to ask Madonna, 'Do you not care at all about Mercy's family? Her family is here, alive, and we want to see her and talk to her'.

"We are her birth family, her blood relatives, and we don't even know where she is. No one is listening to us. We have been very badly deceived."

Madonna was at the High Court in Lilongwe when the ruling on the adoption was made.

She refused to talk to journalists but in her earlier interviews, she said she feels obliged to adopt children to raise them out of poverty.

The UK newspaper, Daily Mail gave a brief fact file of the " formidable judge" who decided Madonna adoption bid,British-educated Fiona Mwale with her photo indicating it was sourced fron Nyasa Times.

It reported that Justice Mwale, chairman of Malawi's Child Case Review Board and a fearsome campaigner for justice for minors, gained a law degree at Leeds University, a Masters at Warwick and her Post-Graduate Diploma from Nottingham in England.

The mother of a severely disabled child, she is passionate about reforms to help vulnerable children, the paper reported.

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