x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Madonna wins adoption appeal

US pop star Madonna is allowed to adopt a second child from Malawi after the country's Supreme Court overturned a lower-court ruling.

Madonna holds her adopted son David Banda in her arms as her daughter Lourdes, looks on.
Madonna holds her adopted son David Banda in her arms as her daughter Lourdes, looks on.

BLANTYRE // The US pop star Madonna was allowed to adopt a second child from Malawi on Friday after the country's Supreme Court overturned a lower-court ruling in a case that has been criticised by local rights groups. Chief Justice Lovemore Munlo said Madonna had shown an interest in helping Malawi orphans and that four-year-old Mercy James would have a better life with the star. He said a lower court had erred in turning down the adoption request because Madonna was not resident in Malawi.

"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. We therefore grant Madonna the adoption order," Mr Munlo said. "Madonna has shown that she is bold, and compassionate enough to come forward to adopt Chifundo James." The Supreme court ruling cannot be challenged.

Madonna's lawyer said the singer welcomed the ruling. "I've just talked to Madonna and she's very excited about this news," lawyer Alan Chinula said. Malawi's government came under fire after Madonna adopted a 13-month-old child, David Banda, in 2006, with critics accusing it of giving her special treatment by skirting laws that ban non-residents from adopting children. Rights groups accused the government of giving Madonna, a US citizen, special treatment. The government had supported Madonna's attempt to adopt Mercy, saying she was a worthy mother.

The Eye on Child non-governmental organisation that has been protesting the adoption said it was disappointed. "Of course we are disappointed with the ruling because we know that adoption should only be granted as the last resort," said executive director Maxwell Matewele. "But we also appreciate that the ruling is looking at guidelines that may help to deter would-be child traffickers." An AIDS epidemic in the southern African country has orphaned more than one million children and Madonna has set up a charity for Malawian children.

In her ruling in April, High Court judge Esimie Chombo warned against celebrity adoptions, saying they could lead to child trafficking. Madonna has entertained millions around the world with hits like "Material Girl" and "Papa Don't Preach," creating a fair amount of controversy along the way. The star, who was divorced last year from British film director Guy Ritchie, is one of the music industry's most successful singers, with album sales of more than 200 million.

*Reuters