“Acting Like a Rich Bully”?: Madonna, Mercy, Malawi, and international children’s rights law in adoption

In: The International Journal of Children's Rights
Benyam Dawit Mezmur Mellon-Research Fellow, Community Law Centre Part-Time Lecturer, Faculty of Law University of the Western Cape, South Africa

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Although it may seem ironic that a policy affecting so few children should engage so much political and social attention, the symbolic significance of intercountry adoption far outweighs its practical import. A recent reminder of this fact on the African continent is the 2009 Madonna adoption case. This note considers Madonna’s second adoption of a child from Malawi in the light of international children’s rights laws. Although human rights groups have alleged that Madonna was “acting like a rich bully” in the main, Madonna’s adoption can withstand the scrutiny of children’s rights, and in fact, has contributed towards helping the discourse of children’s rights in Malawi “stumble” forward.

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