BLANTYRE, Malawi – US pop superstar Madonna felt "compelled" to adopt 4-year-old twin girls from an orphanage in Malawi after hearing of their plight through her charity work, court papers revealed Wednesday, February 8.
The High Court in the Malawian capital Lilongwe on Tuesday, February 7 granted the singer permission to adopt the twins, adding to two other children she has already adopted from the country. (READ: Madonna in Malawi to apply to adopt 2 more kids – court)
Madonna confirmed the adoption on Instagram, posting a picture of herself holding hands with the two girls, twins Esther and Stella, who wore identical blue dresses decorated with white hearts as they walked past a grassy field.
"I can officially confirm I have completed the process of adopting twin sisters from Malawi and am overjoyed that they are now part of our family. I am deeply grateful to all those in Malawi who helped make this possible," she wrote.
"Thank you also to my friends, family and my very large team for all your support and love!"
I can officially confirm I have completed the process of adopting twin sisters from Malawi and am overjoyed that they are now part of our family. I am deeply grateful to all those in Malawi who helped make this possible, and I ask the media please to respect our privacy during this transitional time. Thank you also to my friends, family and my very large team for all your support and Love! A photo posted by Madonna (@madonna) on Feb 8, 2017 at 10:24am PST
Court documents detailed how the twins were taken in by the orphanage because their mother died soon after childbirth, their father left to marry another woman, and their grandmother struggled to look after several children.
Some Malawian activists have criticized Madonna for allegedly bending the rules and for exploiting one of the world's poorest countries.
But judge Fiona Mwale said the singer would provide a loving family life for the children in "a luxurious, spacious and comfortable abode in an affluent neighbourhood" of the United States.
The ruling also said that Madonna, 58, was "above the age normally considered within the ranges of parenting" and had submitted a medical report to prove her good health.
"Her charity work brings her into contact with orphanages... and it was as a result of this contact that she felt compelled to fill a gap in their lives and open up her home to them," Mwale said.
"The petitioner satisfied me that this adoption is motivated by her desire to offer a home, love, protection and guidance to the infants.
"She would like to share what she has with those who are less privileged."
The ruling said the twins' father, identified by the initials A.M., gave his consent for the adoption and accepted it "permanently terminates" his parental rights – adding that he had not received any incentives.
Madonna's earlier adoptions of David Banda in 2006 and Mercy James in 2009 from Malawi have been criticized by some biological family members over a lack of contact with the children.
Madonna, who was in court for the private ruling, set up a charity called Raising Malawi in 2006, and has been a regular visitor to the country, taking David and Mercy last year when she visited a children's hospital surgical unit funded by the charity.
She has not always been welcomed with open arms.
In 2013, she was stripped of VIP status by former president Joyce Banda's government, which accused her of being "uncouth" and wanting unending gratitude for her adoptions.
But in the 2014 election, Banda was ousted by Peter Mutharika who has moved to repair the relationship, saying "my government has always been grateful for the passion Madonna has for this country".
The singer, who divorced film director Guy Ritchie in 2008, now has six children after the adoption of Esther and Stella.
Pool of poor children?
Maxwell Matewere, director of the Eye of the Child charity, told Agence France-Presse that the singer should "take a different approach from adoption by supporting poor families with vulnerable children".
Ken Mhango, local head of the African network for protection and prevention of child abuse and neglect (ANPPCAN), criticised the secrecy and tight security around Madonna's case.
"Madonna is portraying Malawi as having a pool of poor children on the market for adoption," Mhango added.
The twins, who have five other siblings, were reportedly from the Home of Hope orphanage in Mchinji, 110 kilometers (70 miles) west of Lilongwe. – Rappler.com