Madonna is not going down without a fight.
The singer, denied in her bid to adopt 4-year-old Malawi girl Chifundo “Mercy” James, has filed an appeal to the ruling, which came down early Friday.
“I just filed the notice of appeal this afternoon on instructions from my client,” her attorney, Alan Chinula, told Reuters.
Ugly precedents and an already stable quality-of-life were reasons a Malawi judge cited in rejecting her request.
“I must have to decline to grant the application to Madonna,” judge Esmie Chondo said in her ruling following a private Friday hearing. “By removing the very safeguard that is supposed to protect our children, the courts by their pronouncements could actually facilitate trafficking of children by some unscrupulous individuals … it is evident that Chifundo James no longer is subject to the conditions of poverty at her place of birth.”
Critics of the 50-year-old singer’s attempts to adopt another child celebrated the ruling.
“This is a triumph for the children of Malawi,” Mavuto Bamusi, the national coordinator of Malawi Human Rights Consultative Committee, told CNN. “Inter-country adoption is not the best way of providing protection to children … they should grow up in familiar cultural and religious surroundings … [and] supporting children from outside our country only helps five of the 1.5 million orphans we have.”
Prospective parents must live in the country for an 18-month period before they are eligible to adopt children there, the judge said in giving a reason why the application was rejected.
“The decision came down to residency requirement and the fact that the judge believes she was being well taken care of in the orphanage,” Zione Ntaba, a spokeswoman for the Malawi Justice Department, told CNN. “For the Malawians, the fact that the child is at an orphanage, is being taken care of and is going through the school education system, that does qualify as the best interests of a child.”
Madonna adopted her 3-year-old son, David, in 2006, after the residency rule was waived, despite the pop star having never spent an extended period of time in the African nation. Her adoption of the boy became official last year, two years after the child was placed in her custody.
Madonna said in court papers just released that she was “able and willing to securely provide for Chifundo James and make her a permanent and established member of my family.”
“To deny Chifundo James the opportunity to be adopted by me could expose her to hardship and emotional trauma which is otherwise avoidable,” Madonna said in the report for the original adoption request.
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