Thursday, 23 February 2017 09:00

MALAWI: Inter-Country Adoption: The Problem With International Stars Adopting Children From Africa

17 February 2017 - Inter-country adoption is a form of adoption where children are adopted by foster parents from a different country.

Hollywood stars have made Africa their hot spot for this kind of adoption.

Recently Madonna flew down to Malawi and adopted twin girls in addition to 2 others who were initially adopted some years ago.

Another star who is known for the inter-country adoption is Angelina Jolie.

As a form of models for their fans, most people from the West take after their footprints by coming down to Africa as well to adopt children as well.
Inter-country adoption with Africa in perspective has its pros and concerns.

While it could be said that the inter-country adoption will favor children in impoverished sub-Saharan communities, critics have argued that these westerners who come for the adoption may not actually be doing the continent so much favor but exploiting the system as well as the children involved.

As the adoption trend grows, the major hazards of it revolves around the illegitimacy and hastiness of the processes; and the possibility of aiding child trafficking.

In some cases, it is found that biological parents do not give consent for their children to be given up for adoption.

This scenario has played out in the cases of Jolie and Madonna’s adoption.

It was found that Jolie’s adoptive child, Zahara Jolie-Pitt, her biological mother who is still alive did not decide to give her daughter up for adoption
In Madonna’s case, it was also found that the father of the adopted girls did not equally give his consent for the adoption.

With similar cases, it has become a source of worry that the adoption for African orphanages is motivated by the monetary gains.

According to David Mugawe, executive director of the ACPF, inter-country adoption should be discouraged and the initial plan which helped extended family raise children of their relatives be put in place.

He says that way, they are sure of what goes into the cultural and moral upbringing of the children.

“It must at all costs be discouraged. It should be a last resort and an exception rather than the normal recourse to solving the situation of children in difficult circumstances, as it seems to have now become,”

“Every child should have an inalienable right to be nurtured and reared in the country and culture in which they are born.”

Seconding his sentiments, Najat M’jid Maalla, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Sale of children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, on a different occasion said this,

“Due to the illegal nature of these acts, it has been difficult to properly document them, but it is known that there have been cases of children sold by their parents, and children abducted and later trafficked or even placed for adoption because wrongly considered orphans.”

Sadly, family members seem to be more willing to give away their relatives because of the money involved.

A report shows that from 2003 to 2010, over half of the children adopted from Africa came from Ethiopia (22,282), followed by South Africa (1,871), Liberia (1,355) and Madagascar (1,331) and Nigeria (1,118).

Of the above mentioned countries, only South Africa and Madagascar have ratified the 1993 Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption- CNN.

Speaking on the recent Madonna’s adoption Maxwell Matewere, Director of Eye Of The Child, a children’s human rights’ charity in Malawi said,

“We are very worried about this latest adoption,”

“It sends out the wrong signal to the orphanages. It opens up for more children to be recruited.”

“We used to have a culture of extended families caring for children who have lost one or both parents. But families are now being actively told that orphanages are the best place for children when clearly the best place for them is with their own families.”

“It’s unjust to our culture and traditions and it’s unjust to our children who have no voice.”


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