/ 27 March 2009

Madonna plans another adoption in Malawi

Madonna is planning to adopt a second child from Malawi, officials said, but questions have already been raised over whether the newly divorced pop star will face obstacles because of her single mom status.

A Malawi welfare department official said on Thursday that the pop star had filed adoption papers in the Southern African country. Another
person in Malawi close to the case said Madonna would be there this weekend and a court could hear her adoption case as soon as Monday.

A US government official confirmed that an adoption bid by Madonna, an American, was under way.

They all spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject.

Madonna spokesperson Liz Rosenberg in New York would not comment.

Years ago, the singer was accused of using her celebrity status to circumvent Malawian adoptions laws when she adopted her son David — allegations she denies. That adoption became final in 2008.

Now there are concerns that rules again will be broken for the newly divorced Madonna as Malawi also does not approve adoptions for single or divorced parents.

However, the Malawi welfare official said each case is considered on its merit.

Malawian law is fuzzy on foreign adoptions. Regulations stipulate only that prospective parents undergo an 18- to 24-month assessment period in Malawi, a rule already bent when Madonna was allowed to take David to London.

Madonna met David in October 2006 at a Malawian orphanage. His mother had died and his father was unable to care for him. She and her then-husband, British filmmaker Guy Ritchie, took David to their London home but it took two years for the adoption to become official.

The adoption was a trying process for the singer, who said the criticism hurt. Some children’s advocacy groups accused her of breaking up a family. They claimed the child, who is now three, should have remained in Malawi and the star should have instead offered to support his father.

Rumours that Madonna wanted to adopt a girl from Malawi have been circulating for some time. But the first official hint came from the star herself last week.

In an interview in Malawi’s leading daily the Nation, the singer said she was considering another adoption but would only do it if she had ”the support of the Malawian people and government”.

Before David’s adoption was finalised in May last year, a Malawi welfare official paid the family two home visits and wrote in a report that Madonna was a ”perfect mum”.

If the adoption goes through, the 50-year-old singer would become a single mother of four. She also has an eight-year-old son, Rocco, with Ritchie and a 12-year-old daughter, Lourdes, from a previous

Madonna first travelled to Malawi in 2006 while doing charity work and filming a documentary on the devastating poverty and Aids crisis there.

Besides releasing her documentary I Am Because We Are, she is also establishing a school for girls there.

Malawi is among the poorest countries in the world. Just over 14% of the country’s 12-million people are infected with HIV and an estimated on million children have been orphaned.

In an interview last year, Madonna said she planned to visit Malawi this month with all of her children, but it is unclear whether Madonna’s children will accompany her on this trip.

She last visited Malawi in April 2007, when she brought David and Lourdes with her. The star and her entourage spent their time visiting projects for street children and orphanages, and opening a new day care centre funded by her charity. – Sapa-AP