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No ruling in Madonna's appeal to adopt Malawian girl

Malawi's highest court adjourned indefinitely Monday after hearing testimony in an appeal against a lower court's ruling last month that Madonna could not adopt toddler Chifundo "Mercy" James.

By Matthew ClarkStaff writer / May 4, 2009



Malawi's highest court adjourned indefinitely Monday after hearing testimony in an appeal against a lower court's ruling last month that Madonna could not adopt toddler Chifundo "Mercy" James.

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It's not just the lower court that has the temerity to say "No" to the pop diva.

Mercy's maternal grandmother - the girl's mom died during childbirth - told CBS's Early Show that she was pressured by a local orphanage into giving Mercy up. "I did not want my granddaughter to be adopted," she says, "but, because they have been persistent enough, I have been forced to let my granddaughter go."

And Mercy's apparent father, James Kambewa, has come out strongly against the adoption.

His beef?

"I do not want my baby to be adopted because I want to take care of her and I'm capable to take care of my baby," he told The Early Show. "Mercy, she is a Malawian – so (I) need her to grow as a Malawian, as well with our culture."

Mr. Kambewa, however, has never met his daughter, even though he wears a heart-shaped necklace he made bearing Mercy's name.

This has prompted outrage from the brother of Mercy's mother, reports The Associated Press.

"How can he claim he is the father when he hasn't been around all this time?" said Peter Baneti, who explained that the girl was put in the orphanage because there was no one to breast-feed the baby.
Mr. Baneti said he had agreed to the adoption on behalf of the family, and that Kambewa was "just an opportunist."

So, why hasn't Kambewa been a part of his daughter's life?

He's got a perfectly good explanation. Or so it would appear from Part 1 of the Early Show's 3-part series on Madonna's adoption woes.

Kambewa says he had no money to marry Mercy's mother and, six months after she became pregnant, he had to move to live with extended family, hundreds of miles away.
That's where, he says, he eventually received a letter that broke his heart.
Speaking through a translator, he told David, "The letter said my girlfriend and my daughter have passed away during childbirth. This was the toughest point in my life."

It's unclear where that story will land him in the court of public opinion. (It's a big topic online.)

As for Madonna's case at the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal ... well that's also unclear. We'll just have to wait and see when it resumes.

Malawi's High Court rejected Madonna's attempt to adopt her second child last month because she had not been screened over time by Malawi authorities as required by law. The court noted that the rules were bent when Madonna adopted her son David Banda from Malawi last year, according to the Associated Press.

The First Post, a London-based online daily, explains why critics will be happy about the lower court's decision.

The ruling will please those who have expressed concern over Madonna's attempts to adopt a second child from Malawi. In 2006, she famously adopted one-year-old David Banda from an impoverished Malawian village. Her decision to adopt another child has been criticised by human rights and child advocacy groups who say that she is abusing her wealth and power as one of the world’s most famous women to bypass the mandatory assessment period of between 18 and 24 months.

Madonna did not show up for Monday's hearings, but she did send a message to the Malawian people through the country's leading daily, The Nation.

"I want to provide Mercy with a home, a loving family environment and the best education and health care possible," she said in an e-mailed response to questions from The Nation. "And it's my hope that she, like David, will one day return to Malawi and help the people of their country."

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