Malawi: Judge Rejects Madonna Adoption Bid

3 April 2009

Cape Town — A Malawian judge has rejected an attempt by Madonna to adopt a second child from the country, a local newspaper reported Friday.

The Nyasa Times said Judge Esmie Chombo had ruled that the pop star could not be granted custody of the four-year-old girl she wanted to adopt because she was single and she had not lived in the country for the one-year period prescribed by inter-country adoption laws.

The child lives in an orphanage in the town of Thyolo, in southern Malawi.

The judge issued her decision in the High Court in the capital, Lilongwe. The Nyasa Times quoted her as saying: “Whilst there is a felt need to open a window for inter-country adoption, there is a caution and clearly some felt tension between the rights of the child to adequate welfare and the need to protect the subject of the adoption.”

Madonna caused controversy both in and outside Malawi when she adopted a child there three years ago.

In an apparent reference to the first adoption, the judge was reported as adding: “Put simply, courts do not make law by the process of precedents, and Ms Madonna may not be the only international person interested in adopting the so-called poor children of Malawi… Clearly inter-country adoption is supposed to be a last resort alternative.”

Madonna operates a charitable organization, “Raising Malawi,” to support children and health initiatives in the country. The judge added in her decision: “I have no doubt that all hope is not lost with the petitioner’s noble and immediate ideas of investing in the improvements of more children’s life with her projects in Malawi.”

Malawian media report that many ordinary citizens and some government leaders welcomed Madonna’s intention to adopt, on the grounds that it gave a child opportunities she would otherwise never enjoy. But human rights and children’s welfare groups argue that children do best when they grow up in their own communities and that celebrities and others concerned about them should rather support more systemic change which benefits all children.

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