In an unfortunate turn of events, Madonna was denied her bid to adopt a Malawian girl, Mercy James, in a decision that she is appealing to the Malawi Supreme Court.
According to a Monday article from The Associated Press, the country’s High Court ruled on April 3 that the 50-year-old singer had not met the requirement that prospective adoptive parents must complete before adopting. In the article, judge Esme Chombo cited a law that prospective adoptive parents must live in Malawi for 18 to 24 months so officials can determine their suitability.
This was a shock to Madonna, who is already the adoptive parent of a Malawian boy named David, and an appeasement to the critics who believe that celebrity status should not be used to speed up international adoption proceedings.
Some critics have argued that Mercy James is receiving “suitable” care in an orphanage.
However, it begs the question: What does “suitable” mean?
In a country of almost 14 million people where life expectancy is around 43 years, the fertility rate (number of children a woman is expected to have) is 5.6, literacy is 60 percent, and 14 percent of the population is believed to have HIV/AIDS, Mercy is going to have a tumultuous path ahead of her.
Malawi’s Child Welfare Minister, Anna Kachikho, also seemed disappointed by the outcome.
Kachikho told the AP in an April 3 article, “We can’t look after all of them as a country. If people like Madonna adopt even one such orphan, it’s one mouth less we have to feed.”
According to the article, Chombo mentioned the fear of “consequences of opening the doors too wide” and the prospect of facilitating “trafficking of children by some unscrupulous individuals.”
This seems to be the fear of many countries. It has become such a lengthy process coupled with grief and longing for those who want to adopt and better the lives of children who come from extreme poverty.
Looking at cases like Madonna’s where the child is denied the opportunity to prosper and have a bright future, it is truly sad to see the child’s future ripped away.
Of course there is always the need to be thorough in reviewing prospective adoptive parents, but having stipulations such as a requirement to live in the country for 18 to 24 months is outrageous.
Vlora Bojku is a junior business major from Colleyville.