Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Is it a crime to lie to Oprah Winfrey?

Was it Churchill who said a lie could be busily organising a two-way link up with the Harpo studios while truth was still trying to compose a stiffly worded letter to the Ham & High? Possibly.

We're just having a bit of trouble making sense of something Madonna told Oprah in today's interview. According to the the Oprah Website, her critics "don't understand" the Malawian adoption process:

Madonna says that her critics don't really understand how the Malawian adoption process works if they believe she used status to speed up the process of adopting David. "I assure you it doesn't matter who you are or how much money you have, nothing goes fast in Africa," Madonna says. "There are no adoption laws in Malawi. 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. And she did say to me, 'Pick Ethiopia. Go to Kenya. Don't go to Malawi because you're just going to get a hard time.'"

There are no adoption laws in Malawi? This might come as news to the US State department, who as recently as April 2006 updated their page on Malawian adoption with the following ("based on public sources and our current understanding"):

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR ADOPTIVE PARENTS: Prospective adoptive parents must be at least 25 years old and at least 21 years older than the child. Both married and single persons may adopt. However, single men may not adopt female children unless the court is satisfied that there are special circumstances, justifying an exception.

RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: Adoptive parents must be resident in Malawi to adopt.

TIME FRAME: Malawian law requires a lengthy pre-adoption foster care period (at least two years).

Added to which, Malawi is also a signatory to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, which creates a legal framework in which the nation's adoption law is applied - part of which stresses that inter-country adoption should only be considered as a "last resort".

It might be that Madonna's adoption of David is totally acceptable within the interpretations of these laws. It could be that Madonna was totally unaware of their existence. But it all looks murkier and murkier the more she attempts to pretend everything's been done by the (to her mind) non-existent book.

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