Madonna’s Adoption Appeal Begins in Malawi

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The 50-year-old singer Madonna went to Malawi’s highest court on Monday in an effort to adopt a 3-year-old girl. A man claiming to be the young girl’s father would like custody of his child.

Madonna filed a petition to adopt Chifundo James, whose first name translate to mean “mercy” in Chichewa, the country’s national language.

Madonna was unable to adopt the child last month because she did not meet residency qualifications, which require anyone adopting a child from that country to reside in there for a specific amount of time before adoption.

She has three other children, including a son, David Banda, who was adopted from South Africa in 2006.

Madonna’s appeal to the Malawi Supreme Court in Blantyre, the commercial capital, began because a man claimed to be the father of the child up for adoption. The young girl has been at an orphanage most of her life, after her teenage mother died shortly after childbirth.

According to the Malawian attorney general’s office, Chifundo’s grandmother and uncle, who are in support of the adoption, are still liable as her legal guardians. The man claiming to be the girl’s father has apparently only been heard of in the media, said an official.

“He will have to undergo paternity tests in order for us to determine whether or not he is indeed the father,” said Zione Ntaba, a spokeswoman for Malawi’s attorney general.

Madonna and others are unsure if the father is her true biological father. A representative for Madonna, Liz Rosenberg said, “What I know is that she was not visited for the three years she was in the orphanage by anyone claiming to be a parent,” Rosenberg said. “And I know that he wasn’t at court or represented regarding the appeal for the adoption.”

“It is in the hands of the court, and I hope that they will rule based on what is in the best interests of this child,” she said.

The Malawi Human Rights Commission and Eye of the Child, two outside groups, will file submissions in the case. The Malawi Human Rights Commissions were surprised when the government said that Madonna could not adopt, while the Eye of the Child organization believes she should help the needy, instead of just adopting.

Madonna has spent a lot of time in Malawi filming documentaries such as “I Am Because We Are,” which highlights poverty, AIDS, and other diseases. She also co-founded a nonprofit group, Raising Malawi, which provides programs to aid the needy.

Malawian law stipulates that a person who wants to adopt should live in the country for at least 18 months. This was waived when she adopted her son because the welfare of the child outweighed the issue of residency.

 

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