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

Voices
voices
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
newsHad asteroid hit earlier or later in history, the creatures might have survived, say scientists
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth GamesJust 48 hours earlier cyclist was under the care of a doctor
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + entsFilmmaker posted a picture of Israeli actress Gal Gadot on Twitter
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Data Analyst

£30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable software house is looking ...

Application Support Analyst / Junior SQL Server DBA

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established professional services...

Commercial Litigation

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION SO...

BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried