From provocative videos to headline-making risqué concerts, Madonna is known for pushing people's buttons. Now it's her actions off stage that are putting her back in the center of controversy.
In the fall of 2006, Madonna traveled to the African nation of Malawi where she is building an orphan care center with her foundation Raising Malawi. Soon after her trip, news broke that she and husband, Guy Ritchie, were adopting a 13-month-old boy named David.
Local human rights groups have since gone to court, challenging the Malawian government's decision to allow Madonna to adopt David. They believe that Madonna used her wealth and celebrity to fast track the adoption. News outlets have also recently reported that David's birth father, whom originally was in support of the adoption, claims to not have fully understood what he was saying when he encouraged the adoption.
Madonna, accustomed to being criticized in the media, says she never expected to be criticized for her family's choice to adopt a son.
"I didn't realize that the adoption was causing any controversy until I came back," she says. "There were a million film crews in the airport and press camped outside my door. I don't read newspapers or watch television, but all of my friends have let me know what everybody's talking about and what's going on in the news. So it didn't really hit me until I got back to England. It's pretty shocking."
Does celebrity affect the adoption process?
Madonna and Guy Ritchie have been granted an "interim adoption" by the Malawian government—David will live in their care for an initial 18 months while a London-based social worker will visit them periodically to ensure David is being cared for and not neglected. After the 18 months, Madonna and Guy may then legally adopt David.
Madonna says that her critics don't really understand how the Malawian adoption process works if they believe she used status to speed up the process of adopting David. "I assure you it doesn't matter who you are or how much money you have, nothing goes fast in Africa," Madonna says. "There are no adoption laws in Malawi. And I was warned by my social worker that because there were no known laws in Malawi, they were more or less going to have to make them up as we went along. And she did say to me, 'Pick Ethiopia. Go to Kenya. Don't go to Malawi because you're just going to get a hard time.'"
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HEEERRREEEE He is!
With new dad, Guy Ritchie