Friday, June 12, 2009

Madonna adoption appeal approved

Madonna adoption appeal approvedMadonna has won her appeal to adopt a second child from Malawi, the country's highest court has ruled.

The star, who is said to be "excited" at the news, was appealing against an earlier decision that she could not adopt Chifundo "Mercy" James, four.

In April, a judge ruled out the adoption saying prospective parents had to be resident in Malawi for 18 months.

But the appeals court said the star's commitment to helping disadvantaged children had not been considered.

The singer has founded a charity, Raising Malawi, which helps feed, educate and provide medical care for some of Malawi's one million-plus orphans.

The 50-year-old singer's lawyer said he had called the singer after the ruling.

"It's the wee hours of morning in New York but she is excited at the news," Alan Chinula said.

"As her lawyer I am happy that this has settled this contentious issue."

He said he was arranging a passport for Mercy and was waiting to hear from Madonna about travel plans for the child.

Better life

The southern African state's chief justice, Lovemore Munlo, praised Madonna's interest in helping Malawian orphans and said the child would have a better life with the star.

"In our view, Chifundo James is better taken care of by being adopted by foreign parents who will give her love and affection," he said during the appeal hearing.

She was also financially stable, he added.

"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.

"In this case, Madonna was in Malawi not by chance but by intention."

Madonna's commitment to Malawian orphans meant she could "not be described as a sojourner", he added.

Judge Esmie Chondo ruled out the adoption in April, saying the star had not spent enough time in Malawi.

Those rules were waived in 2006 when Madonna adopted a boy, David, from the southern African state.

Raising Malawi

Child welfare groups had argued that the residency rule was central to adoptions, and that Malawian parents should be sought before children were placed overseas.

The appeals court said the earlier decision had been based on a narrow interpretation of old laws.

But the appeal ruling has been criticised by Malawi's Human Rights Consultative Committee - a coalition of non-governmental organisations.

Undule Mwakasungula said the judge had "disregarded" international agreements on children's rights and adoptions.

"We are a bit surprised but we can't challenge it because the supreme court has ruled and we have to go with that," he said.

Mercy has been living in an orphanage since her teenage mother died shortly after giving birth.

Madonna also has two biological children - Lourdes, 12, and Rocco, aged eight.

Last month, the man believed to be Mercy's father told a US TV programme The Early Show he opposed the adoption and wanted to look after her - even though he had never met her.

"I want to take care of her, and I'm capable to take care of my baby," he told the CBS show.

"Mercy, she is a Malawian - so [I] need her to grow as a Malawian as well with our culture."

No comments: