World Vision Urges Celebrities to Sponsor Children Rather Than Adopt

LONDON – The one-year-old Malawian boy Madonna is seeking to adopt arrived in Britain on Tuesday, witnesses reported.

David Banda flew via Johannesburg from Malawi overnight with one of the pop star's bodyguards and her personal assistant, and arrived at London's Heathrow airport at around 6:30 a.m.

As the heated public debate continues over the ethics of the adoption, international relief and development agency World Vision has called on celebrities such as Madonna to sponsor children in their own communities rather than adopting.

Malawian authorities earlier waived local rules to grant Madonna and her British film director husband, Guy Ritchie, an interim adoption, prompting accusations from human rights groups that the star used her status to bypass normal adoption rules.

It had been revealed that Malawian law bans adoptions by non-residents, but officials decided to grant an exemption to Madonna.

Liz Rosenberg, Madonna's New York publicist, said in a statement late on Monday: “Madonna and her husband ... have been granted an interim adoption of baby David by the courts in Malawi. He was issued a passport and a visa was granted earlier today which allows him to travel outside of Malawi.”

"This interim adoption grants David's new parents temporary custody for 18 months," she added.

David is leaving behind his father Yohane, who placed his son in the Malawi orphanage as it appeared he could no longer support his child. The boy's mother died after she gave birth to him, according to media reports.

The young boy now will exchange his life in the orphanage near his natural father for a life of luxury in London with one of the world's most famous couples and their two children.

World Vision Child Rights Advisor Philippa Lei commented: “In a situation such as this when a child has family who are willing but not able due to poverty to look after the child themselves, taking the child out of their community and transporting them to another culture cannot be the best option for anyone involved.”

A lot of people encountering poverty feel they need to “save the child if they can’t save the world,” but the urge to adopt across continents is well meaning but misguided, stated World Vision in a release.

The Christian charity also added: “Through sponsorship, a child is looked after in a community of people who have ties with his or her biological parents. And by sponsoring a child, the entire community benefits. World Vision works alongside communities in providing access to healthcare, clean water or education, thereby, improving children’s life chances, standard of living enabling communities to become self-sufficient.”

In many World Vision programs the communities choose children most in need of sponsorship. In other programs, the children who are picked for sponsorship are always the poorest. However, the whole community benefits, not just the sponsored child.

12.3 million children in Africa have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS and the figure is rising.

“World Vision is working at a local level, we are also pleading with national and local governments for community based care on behalf of local people, which should always focus on the best interest of the child,” said Lei.

The child rights advisor concluded, “Through working with communities in countries affected by HIV/AIDS, World Vision seeks to hold governments accountable to the legal frameworks that support the care of Orphans and Vulnerable children.”