Did Madonna spread $1.5 million around Malawi to adopt Mercy?

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Last Friday, Madonna officially won her appeal in Malawi’s courts, ensuring that toddler Mercy James will be Madonna’s legal daughter within a matter of days. People reported that Madonna was overjoyed with the news, and that she was preparing a private jet to pick up Mercy from Malawi at some point. Now The Daily Mail is reporting on some of what has been going on behind the scenes in Malawi – and I’m a little shocked. That’s right. Something Madonna has done has shocked me.

It seems that after Madonna lost the adoption hearing back in April, Madge sort of knew that the initial denial wasn’t the end of the story. Not only did she have her lawyers prepare for the appeal, Madonna had Mercy’s care transferred out of the orphanage Mercy was living, and Madge had Mercy put into the care of a woman named Lois Silo, who is the coordinator of Raising Malawi (Madonna’s charity with the sketchy financials). Mercy has been living with Lois and her husband since April, and Madge also had Mercy placed in a private nursery school. In both the Silo home and the nursery school, Mercy was learning English, and taught “Western manners”. That’s not the only Raising Malawi connection, though. The rumor going around is that in the past few months, Madonna has spread around $1.5 million, funneled through Raising Malawi:

[Monday], according to Madonna’s lawyer, the singer or one of her close aides will arrive to collect the girl. But Mercy will have less than three weeks with her new mother before she departs for a seven-week European tour, beginning on July 4.

During the long wait for the court’s decision it appears Madonna left nothing to chance.

Mercy has been hidden away, ready to pack instantly if the adoption went Madonna’s way. The girl, who used to live in an orphanage, was taken to a luxury bungalow on the day in April when Madonna left the country in tears after her first attempt at adoption failed.

The house, belonging to Lois Silo, programme co-ordinator of Madonna’s charity Raising Malawi, is behind blue gates in a discreet suburb of the capital Lilongwe, called Area 47.

According to local sources, Mrs Silo and her husband have been caring for Mercy, helping her to speak English and teaching her Western manners. Each morning she has been driven to the nearby Cherub nursery, a privately run fee-paying school. There she plays with other Malawian children who knew nothing of her special status until they heard on Friday that she was leaving the country.

Her teacher Bridget Kawiya said yesterday: ‘The staff and teachers are amazed. We had no idea this was the girl who Madonna wanted. She was registered under a different name and we knew her as Chifundo Moyo.’

Mercy went to school most days with her hair in bunches, decorated with colourful ribbons. Her favourite school-bag was bright pink with a Barbie motif. Classes ended before noon and she would be taken home again where a nanny or cook made lunch for her before an afternoon nap, some children’s TV, then playtime, supper and an early night.

Mercy, a natural chatterbox, would run into school in the mornings to talk to her friends in Chichewa until corrected by teachers who encourage all the children to speak in English.

‘That is important,’ said Mrs Kawiya. ‘English is the official language and you need it to make a good career. We had no idea that Mercy would need it more than the others if she is going to live in New York. At our end-of-term ceremony in July we had planned that Mercy, who is so clever, would introduce herself and others from her group in French. Of course, now that isn’t going to happen. We are sorry to lose her.’

On Friday night a driver picked up Mercy from the Silos’ household and took her to Kumbali Lodge, the guesthouse where Madonna stays when in Malawi. There a Raising Malawi team from America was waiting.

Already familiar with life at the Lodge – she spent three weeks there during the first court hearing in April – Mercy tucked into supper and sought out the staff’s children who had become her friends on a previous visit.

She is expected to be flown by private jet to Johannesburg, then to New York to join Madonna’s daughter Lourdes, 12, son Rocco, eight, and David Banda, three, the Malawian orphan adopted two years ago.

[From The Daily Mail]

I can understand the teaching Mercy English, and it doesn’t sound like Mercy, or any other child, is punished if they don’t speak in English, so I’m giving that a pass. What bothers me is the larger issue – if Madonna lost the initial legal battle to adopt Mercy, how was that she could arrange to have this child – a little girl she had no legal ties to – moved into a private home, make school arrangements, and basically keep the little girl in hiding?

Many of those charities who were initially protesting the adoption are more concerned about Mercy’s transition from Malawian life to Madge’s palaces. Also, a lot of people seem concerned that Madonna will be heading off on tour in less than a month:

In spite of Mercy’s apparent happiness, charities fear she could face problems adapting to her new life.

Maxwell Matewere, of Malawi’s Eye of the Child group, said: ‘It’s hard to say how much damage may have been done to a girl who’s been moved from pillar to post because of one woman’s determination to have her. Her first days were with her schoolgirl mother who then died, and she spent three years in an orphanage.’

‘For the past two months she has been living like no other Malawian child, surrounded by toys and a bewildering array of luxury. We are pleased if she finds happiness in her new life, but we cannot approve of the stress she has already suffered.’

Others have accused Madonna of virtually bribing Malawi’s lawmakers and child protection officers into giving her what she wants by donating a reported £1.5million to the country through Raising Malawi.

But her lawyer Allan Chinula said: ‘It is a total fabrication to say that Madonna poured money into Malawi for the purposes of being able to adopt a child.’

[From The Daily Mail]

Though she doesn’t deserve it, I’m giving Madonna the benefit of the doubt. Surely, she has a good reason to not pick up Mercy herself. Surely she will make arrangements for Mercy while she tours. Surely Madonna will hire some of sort of tutor/translator so Mercy will still be able to communicate in the language she has heard all of her life.

Madonna is shown on 5/25/09. Credit: Fame Pictures

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18 Responses to “Did Madonna spread $1.5 million around Malawi to adopt Mercy?”

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  1. dee miller says:

    She will do what ever it takes to get another baby.
    Better Modonna than Malawi.

  2. ima says:

    Aside from the “buying a child” aspect, I am so annoyed by all the newsoutlets referring to both David and Mercy as “orphans.” Yes, they lived in orphanages but neither are orphans.

  3. Nony says:

    I’m completely baffled about how she could have controlled the whereabouts of Mercy while she had no rights or authority over the child. I see no other possibility than that she did some heavy padding of pockets.

    Time will tell if this outcome is actually better for Mercy – I hope so for the girl. But I find it downright distasteful that Madonna considers herself so far above the law and has approached the whole situation with such arrogance and disdain for anybody in her way.

  4. Daryla says:

    Relax…you make it sound like a UFO conspiracy or government cover-up. It’s just Madonna adopting a little girl who will now have a good home. Also Madonna is TAKING the children with her when she goes on tour. Now go on with your day……really, Mercy is going to be just fine.

  5. Larissa says:

    or·phan (ôrfn)
    n.
    1.
    a. A child whose parents are dead.
    b. A child who has been deprived of parental care and has not been adopted.

    so yes, David and Mercy WERE orphans!

  6. zip says:

    you call buying off the Malawi justice system spiritual?

    this woman is frightening.

    watch for the Mommie Dearest books to come.

  7. barneslr says:

    Of course she was spreading money around Malawi. Paying off officials to look the other way while perpetrating a kidnapping is expensive.

  8. SolitaryAngel says:

    Only $1.5M? Wow! The kid must have been on sale!

  9. Linda says:

    When the news broke I had wondered how much money it took – although I think the figure quoted here is low – I’d bet Madonna spent at least $3M to purchase – oh sorry – ADOPT Mercy. So sad that this loving mother couldn’t be bothered to go and pick her up.

  10. Zoe (The Other One) says:

    I don’t get how her buying this kid is any different to what Saint Angie-Jo does every time she swoops into a nation and benevolently hands over wads of cash to whatever hospital/school etc and leaves with a kid under her arm.

    Welcome to the real world folks…people with money can pay to get exactly what they want. It’s called power.

  11. Kait says:

    The difference Zoe is that Angelina Jolie and every other person on the planet that adopts, does so from countries with open, functional adoption programs. Madonna picked a country with no international adoption program, completely ignored the adoption laws that were in place, and took two children that HAVE biological parents in county. I’m certain it’s pretty damn easy to find a legitimate orphan in Malawi. And to whomever defined orphan as one without parental care, you have obviously never done an adoption because being abandoned and being orphaned are two very different things.

    The children Madonna bought were abandoned. If she had wanted to do something for them, not to just have them but to make their lives better, she would have provided the financial means to keep them with their parents. She would have set up that 1.5 million to provide a home, food and schooling for Mercy in country, with her grandmother and father.

    To me, the way Madonna went about all of this is about her winning and her getting what she wants, no matter what the cost. It’s disgusting and makes me sad for her kids sake.

  12. cara says:

    I feel that for all the insane things the Vadge does, I am going to give her kudos for this one. Yes there are a million kids here in USA who need loving families, but I feel that the Vadge was sincerely scarred when her mother passed and she feels a kinship to kids who don’t have mothers. And on top of that it always seemed to me,wether good or bad…it doesn’t matter, that Guy Ritchie sort of steered their family ship while together and with these little two kids of her’s, she’ll be doing it her way and with more attention. Besides, I’m an american born child of adoption and my parents, birth and adopted had to pay $$$….tons. So it’s really not that unusual.

  13. kim says:

    Zoe,I’m curious what school/hospital did St Angie donate to in Cambodia, Vietnam or Ethiopia before adopting those kids.I googled it and couldn’t find any donations except for to Nambiba.

  14. drica says:

    i agree with Kait madonna thinks she’s above the law. mercy will have a better life yeah yeah but she has a family in malawi. i cannot imagine their pain while watching their baby being “kkidnapped”. there are soooo many kids in the world why the hell did she choose that country with those laws? and about AJ I never heard nothing about a illegal adoption or thar she was spreading money around the country.

  15. dubdub2000 says:

    @ Zoe: very true
    @Larissa – I HAD to amend this definition
    or·phan (ôrfn)
    n.
    1.
    a. A child whose parents are dead.
    b. A child who has been deprived of parental care and has not been adopted.
    c. A child who is up for sale to celebrities only who are willing to fork over the GNP of a small country over several years for the privilege of not having to abide by said countries laws.

  16. Magsy says:

    She’s just trying to stay young by having kids around her. They’re the ultimate accessory.

  17. Rachel says:

    Why is Madonna so hell bent on taking this African Baby away from her biological Father & Grandmother? They want Mercy to remain with them even though they can’t give her a lavish lifestyle? WOW! Is buying Black people back in style! At least Angelina Jolie seemed sincere about her daughter’s adoption & the child’s African distant relatives didn’t disapprove. But Madonna is bullying the Malawian gov’t & the baby’s family who are 100% against this!

  18. Rachel says:

    Zoe you’re a completely delusional about the Angelina vs Madonna Adoptions! Angelina did not side-step any Adoption laws & all the countries she adopted from have Written Legal Open- policies! In Madonna’s case – Malawi absolutely, unequivalently DOES NOT! It’s practically illegal to adopt there. There are no rules in place for Adoptions to Foreign countries! Reason: because dark skin african babies are not desired by rich white people, especially living outside of Malawi. Plus their customs & traditions are so different from the Western world they request a 6months to 1yr residency requirement for any adoptions within Malawi. Madonna is removing the little girl from her home country & disrespecting the residency requirement.