Malawi judge allows Madonna to adopt second African child

Madonna has succeeded in her bid to adopt a second African child after Malawi's Supreme Court told a provincial judge that she had listened too much to media reports and overturned her earlier decision. The 50-year-old single mother from New York, as Madonna was identified on a notice outside the court, completed her three-year pursuit of Mercy James Chifundo as a panel of judges paid tribute to her compassion for Malawian orphans.

"We find the judge in the lower court to have dwelled so much on media reports on the issue of residence and to us this was not evidence enough to deny Madonna a chance to adopt Mercy James," said Chief Justice Lovemore Munlo, reading an hour-long judgment in Malawi's second city of Blantyre. "We therefore grant Madonna the adoption order."

The singer, who chose not to attend the hearing, was told the news in New York by her lawyer Alan Chinula, who said she was "very excited". He stressed that the matter was now finalised, "as her lawyer I am happy that this has settled this contentious issue".

The singer's adoption spree in one of Africa's poorest countries has been attacked both by local and international aid agencies and rights groups who say it violates international child welfare and adoption rights.

Four-year-old Mercy will now join David Banda, another Malawian child adopted by Madonna in 2006, when he was 13 months old.

In yesterday's ruling, the court appeared to chastise the provincial justice, Esimie Chombo, who warned in April that special exemptions for celebrity adoptions risked opening the door to child trafficking in the future. Justice Chombo blocked the adoption on the grounds that the American star was not a Malawian resident, but this argument was dismissed by the higher court yesterday.

"In this global village a man can have more than one place at which he resides. The matter of residence should be determined at the time of application of the adoption," Justice Munlo told the court.

The ruling waived the issue of residency, arguing that Madonna's investment in the country qualifies her as a resident. The divorced performer has set up a charity, Raising Malawi, which assists in the care of some of the country's estimated one million orphans. Malawi, a long strip of land on the western shore of Lake Malawi, has been ravaged by HIV/Aids and has one of the lowest life expectancies in the world, at just 40.

Mercy was identified from pictures taken of children in Malawian orphanages in 2006 by Madonna's then husband Guy Ritchie.

Her original attempt to adopt the child was blocked, it is claimed, by Mercy's maternal grandmother, Lucy. The second effort was then halted over the residency issue but yesterday's decision was "final" according to authorities. Much of the controversy surrounding the adoption stems from the fact that Mercy is not an orphan. Her teenage mother, Mwandide Maunde, died from complications after giving birth but her father, James Kambewa, is still alive.

Mr Kambewa, who lives and works in a Blantyre slum, admits that he has never seen his daughter but said recently that he opposed the adoption.

Daniel Howden: Broken families need real help

Comment

The problem with the rich and famous shopping for "orphans" is that it distracts attention from real solutions.

Fidel, who is thought to be 18 months old (his older brother doesn't know for sure how old they are or if they're orphans), is not being sought by recording artists and really needs help. He was found in a cell at the children's court by Juliet John, a British volunteer with a feeding programme for young offenders in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, run by a slum charity, the Mathare Youth Sports Association (Mysa), which seeks to reunite these lost boys and girls with family members. "When they were picked up by police they had swollen bellies," said Ms John. "They were brought here because there was nowhere else for them." Mysa volunteers talk to the children to seek clues about where they come from and then try to track down their families.

"We try to get relatives to take responsibility for them," said Peter Karengo, who runs the programme. "Helping to mend these broken families is the best way to help the children."

This is the kind of unheralded work that will help the millions of African children for whom there is no private jet out of poverty.

Your Independent

Have you adopted or tried to adopt a child from abroad? Share your experiences with readers. Write to: yourindependent@independent.co.uk

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?