Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Madoption: More questions than answers

The Madonna adoption story gets more and more puzzling the more reports come out from Malawi. For example, David's Dad has apparently issued a statement calling for the human rights organisations who are challenging the adoption procedure to withdraw their objections:

"Where were these people when David was struggling in the orphanage? These so-called human rights groups should leave my baby alone," Yohane Banda said.

"As father I have okayed this, I have no problem; the village has no problem, who are they to cause trouble? Please let them stop."

"I was alone with a baby; I had no money, I couldn't buy him milk, that's why I surrendered him to the orphanage," said Banda.

"Orphanage life is no good. We leave kids there because we can't look after them properly ourselves. Now my son has been taken by a kindhearted woman, these people want to bring him back to the orphanage," lamented Banda, standing in his small garden of onions and tomatoes.

The peasant farmer said Madonna and Ritchie promised him nothing apart from "love and care for my David."

That seems quite definitive: the father, standing in his garden, has no problem with the adoption.

There is a question of how a man of Banda's background has suddenly started giving media briefings from his "small garden of onions and tomatoes."

And the Village is fine with it, too:

"Whoever she is she is a kindhearted woman," said Village Headman Lipunga, the chief of the village. "We all love her here and we hope she will visit us soon."

But then, clearly, the village has been happy with whatever deal was struck all along.

And, despite what Banda has told the press after a period of reflection, he'd earlier told the Mail that he hadn't put the child up for adoption, and had hoped to reunite his family:

"I suppose deep in my heart I always imagined that when he was better, or I had got another wife, I would go and take him back," Banda told the Mail on Sunday.

"I did not think anyone would want to take him away."

So at the weekend, Banda had only believed he'd given temporary custody; now he's suggested he "surrendered" the baby to the orphanage. Interesting shift.

Meanwhile, the Malawian government have been attempting to deny they've twisted the rules in allowing Madonna and film-makery bloke thing to fast-track their taking of the child (it's funny, isn't it, how people in Malawi only talk about the adoptive mother - it's her lovely eyes, her generous nature):

[Penston Kilembe, the Director of Child Welfare Services in the Ministry of Gender, child Welfare and Community Services] said when approving the adoption of Baby David government looked at rights of the baby and the family and "found nothing amiss."

"These groups should fight for rights of children, not block the same like they are trying to do now," he said.

But there's a curiosity here, too - Kilembe sort-of admits that laws have been broken, but dismisses them as "archaic":

"These laws date back to the 1940s; things have changed now," he said. "Madonna and her husband has broken no laws as far as government is concerned. They have followed all the legal steps."

But surely if the laws are that archaic, then the government would have swept them away rather than just decided they don't apply any more? Besides, isn't it the job of the judiciary rather than the executive to decide what laws apply in which situation? Indeed, you'd have thought the government would welcome the chance to test this curious "that law is more than 25 years old and doesn't, therefore, count" interpretation of legislation in the courts. By encouraging legal action, the Government could happily sweep this tired and threadbare piece of dead legal letter off the statute book.

Another question that's floating about unanswered: if Madonna and Guy have been preparing the paperwork for this adoption for "months" as she claims, how come they hadn't thought to apply for a passport for David until this week? And if they were being so diligent in filling out all the paperwork, why is it the UK authorities apparently knew nothing about it?

Zoe Williams, writing in this morning's Guardian suggested that all the commentary over the adoption is tied up with a determination to stop people believing that the rich and famous get treated differently from us:

Madonna's case is prosecuted basically as a fairly crude demonstration that the world is fair, that preferment can't be bought.It is primary-school morality, bugled noisily so our tiny minds can comprehend it and be soothed.

In other words - if we've got this right - Williams believes that Madonna has bought exemption from the usual rules, but thinks everyone should pretend that's okay lest we seem shrill.


Anonymous said...

Oh, sodding hell. Have a pop at Angelina for a change, would you? She managed to adopt twice, extremely easily, despite being single, childless, with two failed marriages behind her, not on speaking terms with her own family and notorious for odd behaviour like carrying around her ex-husband's blood in a vial.

And yet when she turned up one day toting a Cambodian baby the media said 'ahhh, how humanitarian of her!'(Zahara had living family too - Mentewab Dawit - but that barely made the news.)

Seriously! Someone explain to me why in this particular case everyone seems to care so much, when Angelina, Meg Ryan, Calista Flockhart et al didn't merit so much as a raised eyebrow.

Chris Brown said...

Er... maybe because this is a music blog and none of the other people you've mentioned are connected to music.

simon h b said...

Chris has hit the nail on the head. Angelina and Brad haven't disturbed the music industry as yet.

Also, I don't think they were making a million dollar movie about their adoption, either.

Anonymous said...

I'm talking about the media at large, not specifically this blog - don't be disingenuous. You're hardly talking about anything to do with her music career, in any case.

You haven't actually addressed my points at all. Why is Madonna getting so much flak for this FROM EVERYONE when no-one else did?

Cobardon said...

Anon, could it be that Maadonna, now living in the UK, gets more attention than those purely US celebs in this country?

Makes sense to me. It's an issue that involves UK citizens.

I can't speak for the media in the US, but maybe they should be giving all of them a hard time.

simon h b said...

Well, yes, Anon, this blog is about music and the people who make it; I know Madonna might not make much music woth listening to these days, but she's still a singer.

Why didn't Angelina get so much stick? Perhaps because when Angelina adopted in Ethiopia, for example, she went through a recognised charity rather than just sending out a team of advisors to pick out a good-looking one.

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