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Madonna reignites the adoption debate
Madge’s controversial adoption of a Malian child has focused attention on the often murky world of third world adoption.
Colm O Hare, 06 Nov 2006
Madonna’s surprise decision to adopt an African child continues to draw fire from all quarters, with several acres of forest having been devoured in newspaper coverage of the controversy.
The Queen of pop has been heavily criticised for adopting the 13-month-old Malawi boy, David Banda, after discovering him in an orphanage in one of the poorest countries in Africa.
The main accusation leveled at her is that she has used her wealth and celebrity status to bypass normal adoption procedures and that she deliberately picked a country where the adoptions laws are lax.
However, much of the argument has centered on her own motives, with some suggesting that she badly wanted another child but at 48 is too old.
But in an open letter posted on her official website she defended her decision and explained the reasons behind the adoption: “After learning that there were over one million orphans in Malawi, it was my wish to open up our home and help one child escape an extreme life of hardship, poverty and in many cases death, as well as expand our family This was not a decision or commitment that my family or I take lightly.”
However, speaking on the Oprah Winfrey show in what seemed like a damage limitation exercise, she appeared to change her story slightly, stating she had already decided to adopt before she was aware of the situation in Malawi.
“I wanted to go into a third world country – I wasn’t sure where – and give a life to a child who might not otherwise have had one,” she said, her eyes filling with tears as she described how she had found herself drawn to the boy who had lived in the orphanage since he was two weeks old.
“An eight-year-old girl who is living with HIV was holding this child. I became transfixed by him. When I met him, he was extremely ill. He had severe pneumonia, and he could hardly breathe. I was in a state of panic, because I didn’t want to leave him in the orphanages yet know I was going to adopt him. I was just drawn to him.”
She denied that she had used her celebrity status to speed up the procedure. “There are no adoption laws in Malawi," she said. "And I was warned by my social worker that because there were no known laws in Malawi, they were more or less going to have to make them up as we went along.”