Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Madonna - Who does she think she is?

As someone who has to sit and wait for months and months for a child, this story disgusts me. it makes me so angry that someone can just mozey in with their $4 million and take home a child that day. I am so glad that this advocacy group stepped in and said "Hold your horses!" on this one! Madonna, you have to wait in line just like the rest of us....sort of. I'll take the "sort of" for now. As long as she isn't totally getting away with it.

From the moment Madonna's private jet landed in Lilongwe, Malawi's capital, earlier this month and departed last Friday, the southern African country has become divided over whether her adoption of a 13-month-old boy named David is in the child's best interests and whether the singer received special treatment by the government's adoption authorities.

By Malawian law, adoption of a child by a foreigner is illegal unless the foreigner has resided in Malawi for 18 months. The High Court granted Madonna an interim order approving the adoption, under the condition that she be monitored over the next 18 months.

While Malawian human rights advocates have cried foul, the case of Madonna's adoption has stirred a fierce debate, both in Malawi and across the continent, about whether money and influence have once again set aside the rule of law in a poor country.

"This is a huge concern for us: if you stretch the rules for one person here, then what do you say to the next?" says Joan van Niekerk, national coordinator for Childline, a Johannesburg-based advocacy group for children's rights. "Rules exist to protect children. Some people do have a genuine desire to help children in need, but you also have a so-called 'fashion of adopting,' among celebrities. These people are role models, so if a role model steps outside of normal procedures, what message are you giving out?"

In Malawi itself, Madonna's adoption has become a rallying cause for child and human rights advocates. The Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC), an umbrella of civil society groups, has filed a motion in court to ensure that Madonna's adoption procedure followed the letter of the law.

"A Malawian and a non-Malawian do not occupy the same legal position, and we are not discriminating against anybody," says Justin Dzonzi, the chairman of HRCC. "The law makes no exception on who can adopt a Malawian kid."

According to the Adoption of Children Act, "An order shall not be made except with the consent of every person or body who is a parent or guardian of the infant in respect of whom the application is made or who has the actual custody of the infant or who is liable to contribute to the support of the infant."

Yohande Banda, the birth father of Madonna's adopted son, told local Malawian journalists that he had put David into an orphanage temporarily last year, after the death of David's mother. He also said he did so because he feared that David was suffering from malaria, which had killed two of his other children, and that he was influenced by government officials to accept Madonna's adoption. "The government people told me it would be a good thing for the country," said Mr. Banda. "They said he would come back educated and be able to help us."

Penson Kilembe, director of the state agency that handles adoption, says that nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) against the adoption do not understand all the issues involved.

"As government, we have no problem with Madonna adopting the child," says Mr. Kilembe. "Child adoption is also a rights issue, and these NGOs do not seem to understand that as government we have both a moral and ethical obligation to mitigate the plight of children. Madonna has set a precedent worth emulating."

That, of course, is exactly what worries child rights advocates such as Ms. Van Niekerk. "Procedures are there to ensure that we reduce incidences of children being trafficked, to reduce the incidences of children being separated from their parents," she says. "This is why we have rules."

Patricia Nambewe, a banana vendor, thinks otherwise. She says it's "pathetic" that in this era, people can be conned into "selling their children to the rich."

Local journalist Lastone Kuyewawa is worried about the message this adoption sends. "As a nation we must not set a bad precedent by allowing people, because of their status in society, to break the statutes and get away with it," he says.

"We are showing to the world that our poverty has extended to the brain."


Lee-Anne said...


Lisa & Jeff said...

This story makes me SICK!!! I heard on the news that she lined the children up against the wall so she could pick the child she wanted!!!

holly said...

Oh yeah. Right there with you on this one.
What about helping the family, so they can afford to raise THEIR child? Of course the gov't told the father it would be a "good" thing? Duh?
This is so wrong - but yet not surprising. I'm so discouraged with the human race sometimes.

Dawn, Brian & Guinness said...

I feel your pain too!! In just a couple of days, we'll be LID for ONE YEAR, and still no baby girl in sight!!!

10/26/05 LID