Today was supposed to be the day Madonna would return to the United States from Malawi with her newly adopted daughter, a 3-year-old girl named Chifundo “Mercy” James. But the Malawian courts denied the petition, claiming that parents need to be Malawian citizens in order to adopt.
While it's frustrating that it seems like celebrities can often adopt babies with ease, while regular parents struggle through the process for years, it seems startling to deny a child in need of adoption by someone who could provide her with excellent schooling, health care, and lifestyle. But the Human Rights Consultative Committee was looking at the larger picture, imagining that situations like this might lead to the trafficking of children. The ruling, they said, "redefines the boundaries between child adoption and child kidnapping." It’s important to note that while Mercy’s mother is deceased, her father is alive (although he has not had much contact with her).
Whether we like Madonna or not, would she have been better to try to help Mercy’s biological family care for her? Has Mercy been denied the opportunity of a lifetime, or is it best she stay in Malawi?
I'd like to adopt from a foreign country some day, and I wonder if other countries will continue to redefine this adoption/kidnapping boundary. If Madonna can't adopt a child from Malawi, where she has supported 25,000 orphans, is a spokesperson for AIDS/HIV research, and leads the charity, "Raising Malawi," what chance do I have?