Monday, March 30, 2009

MADONNA ATTENDS ADOPTION HEARING

Madonna
Madonna has faced criticism in the past for adopting from Malawi

Madonna has left a Malawian court after a hearing to begin the adoption of a second child from the African country.

Her application to adopt Chifundo James has been adjourned until Friday, according to a Lilongwe court official.

A welfare officer speaking anonymously, said the child was now four and that her 18-year-old mother had died shortly after giving birth.

Madonna has said it is "amazing" to be back in the country where she adopted David Banda in 2006.

The girl at the centre of the case, whose name translates into English as Mercy, is in the same orphanage that was home to David, who is now three years old.

Madonna, dressed in a black and white skirt and carrying a straw hat, entered the court of Judge Esme Chombo through a back door and the case will be heard in private.

The singer has come in for criticism over her plans. David Nutt, spokesman for the Save the Children charity, urged Madonna to think again.

"We don't want to pick on one individual - any time, any set of circumstances can change," he said.

Madonna in Malawi in 2007
Madonna's adoption of David Banda was finalised last year

"But the problem is, very often this is the wrong thing to do, and Madonna tends to make it seem like it's the answer to everything and all problems, and it just isn't."

But Steven Whitehead from the charity Oasis, which represents families who adopt from abroad, said foreign adoption was a good idea in many cases.

He said: "There are a number of children for whom inter-country adoption represents their only chance of having a family, and the human convention on the right of the child gives every child the right to a family.

"And it's much better for them be in a family, wherever it may happen to be, than be in institutional care. The damaging effect of institutional care on children is so well recognised that, you know, it's just not an issue of debate."

Madonna's spokeswomen, Liz Rosenberg and Barbara Charone, and her lawyer in Malawi, Alan Chinula, have not commented.

Writing in response to e-mailed questions from Nation readers last week, Madonna said: "Many people - especially our Malawian friends - say that David should have a Malawian brother or sister.

"It's something I have been considering."

In 2006, critics accused the Malawian government of sidestepping laws banning foreign adoptions in order to allow the celebrity to take David home with her.

Madonna's adoption of David Banda was confirmed last year.

After the adoption was legalised, Madonna said the difficulties had arisen because "this adoption essentially was the beginning of the creation of adoption laws in Malawi".

Madonna and daughter Lourdes were seen walking through the village of Chinkhota.

She hoped it would make it easier for others to adopt from the country and explained: "I am the template or the role model, so to speak, for future adoptions."

The star also has two biological children - Rocco, her son with former husband Guy Ritchie, and Lourdes, whose father is Carlos Leon.

Film director Ritchie and Madonna's divorce was finalised in November.

Malawi does not, as a rule, approve adoptions for single or divorced people, but the official at the country's welfare department said that each case was considered on merit.

Madonna has also established a charity, Raising Malawi, which aims to provide accommodation, food, education and other support to orphans in the country.

BBC NEWS REPORT.

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