Madonna Loses Bid for Second Malawi Child

Judge rules that bending the rules for the pop star could open the doors to child trafficking.

Madonna, who found herself the target of criticism when she adopted a Malawian toddler David Banda in 2006, has been turned down in her attempt to adopt a second Malawi baby — a 4-year-old girl named Chifundo “Mercy” James.

The ruling Friday by the African Country’s High Court was bad news for Madonna but good news for Malawian rights groups who feel the government has given the singer special treatment, especially in her adoption of David. Residency requirements were bent to allow her to take the child out of the country before the adoption was finalized in 2008.

In the new ruling, Judge Esimie Chombo warned against celebrity adoptions because she said they could lead to child trafficking. "Anyone could come to Malawi and quickly arrange for an adoption that might have grave consequences on the very children that the law seeks to protect," she said.

But the ruling came as a surprise to the pop star, since initially the country’s child welfare minister had supported the adoption.

Madonna arrived in Malawi on Sunday to spend time with Mercy and take David to visit his biological father. She filed her adoption request on Monday, stating that the girl’s grandmother was unable to properly care for her.

There was no immediate comment from Madonna or her spokeswoman in New York. But her lawyer, Alan Chinula, said he had lodged an appeal over the ruling with the Supreme Court.

In her ruling, Chombo praised Madonna for her “noble” charity work in the AIDS-stricken area, which includes an orphanage and a proposed multi-million-dollar school for girls.


But she said, “It is necessary that we look beyond the petitioner … and consider the consequences of opening the doors too wide. By removing the very safeguard that is supposed to protect our children, the courts … could actually facilitate trafficking of children by some unscrupulous individuals."