Madonna's bid to adopt a girl from Malawi, Chifundo Mercy James, has been approved by the highest court in that country according to several news sources. The papers also say that while "her family" (ie, maternal relatives, her mother died in childbirth) is for the adoption, her father, who has never seen the girl, also according to these sources, is against it. From Mirah Riben's blog, Family Preservation Advocacy, we took this statement: We are delighted to report that Malawi's Supreme Court has overturned an earlier ruling denying a petition by Madonna to adopt Chifundo "Mercy" James, and has granted a full adoption. According to the New York Times, Chief Justice Lovemore Munlo, in reviewing the lower court's ruling, said that the first decision was a narrow interpretation based on old laws and that "in this global village a man can have more than one place at which he resides." We agree. Moreover, in our increasingly inter-connected world, a child should not be viewed as the sole responsibility of his country of birth.
--from the press release of ACT for Adoption, a Rye, NY, based organization of adoption attorneys with a Harvard connection through the proponent of all-adoption-all-the-time Prof. Elizabeth Bartholet of Harvard.
Read Mirah's blog, Family Preservation Advocacy, for more on the skinny.
And while we are on the subject of international adoption, read about child trafficking in Asia from Australian radio where babies are brought in fishing boats, packed in styrofoam fish crates with air holes so they don't suffocate. This is from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation:
First world demand to adopt very young babies is driving a new twist in people smuggling, particularly in Asia.
One of Australia's senior law officers, John Pascoe, says more and more, smugglers are trading in pregnant women - the perfect incubators - for access to their newborns. Australia's Chief Federal Magistrate John Pascoe, Australia's Chief Federal Magistrate (analogous to our Attorney General) says that among the measures needed to fight the insidious trade should be a new system of children's rights. To illustrate the shift in focus for the smugglers, Mr. Pascoe describes a 2003 case that happened off Indonesia--where the babies were found in fish crates.
JOHN PASCOE: Sadly this is a crime which is very hidden, trafficking generally is very much a hidden crime, but there are increasing numbers of reports, there are fortunately an increasing number of arrests in this area, so we believe that it's increasing and that the numbers are probably in the thousands rather than in tens or hundreds.
Interviewer LINDA MOTTRAM: So why is this growing? Is it just because the trafficking progress is evolving? The traffickers are finding new and better ways, if you like, to move the people they want to move or are there other factors there?
JOHN PASCOE: We believe that trafficking is always motivated by economics, but also there is significant demand for children for adoption apart from anything else. I believe that most newly born children end up in some sort of illegal adoption process. There's huge demand from first world countries for very young children for adoption purposes.
LINDA MOTTRAM: Well, what can be done about this? There are international conventions on the rights and protection of children but clearly that's inadequate?
JOHN PASCOE: Yes, I think we need to encourage countries throughout the Asia Pacific region to become signatories to the various conventions that protect the rights of the child. and that is not universal across the region. And I am also putting forward that I think we need to move to a system that actually gives a child rights which crystallise the moment it is born and those rights should include a right to know its nationality, to know who its parents are and generally to be properly cared for.
And you know what? Every time a celebrity such a Madonna adopts, three little girls somewhere in the world decide they are going to do their bit for children...and adopt.
Though I thought the weekend would be adoption free, it was not. Someone I know was hosting a friend who adopted two children from Brazil, though from the story I heard, the adoptive mother found the siblings in separate orphanages or homes and reunited them when she adopted; a good thing, but was there no one in Brazil who could have done the same? And then I heard of someone I knew vaguely who had two children...and since the man telling us the story knew she was not able to have children (as he had once been her boyfriend), he asked the father who had had run into at his office...how this was possible? Surrogate mothers. I think it's more prevalent than we know. This is a story from the publishing world; Jane tells the same about the legal community, and Linda is always meeting adoptive parents by...accident?