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Madonna Adoption Story Gets a Wierd New Twist

Posted by Fara Kearnes on November 1, 2006 4:29 PM |

Madonna and DavidMadonna's adoption of an "abandoned baby" has taken on even more controversy now that it has come to light that a Canadian grandmother had been visiting baby David in his Malawian orphanage for over a year and had been in the process of adopting him herself.

For six years retired teacher Jane Glaves has been making donations to the Home Of Hope orphanage in Mchinji, where David was placed by his father after his mother died from childbirth complications. The woman has also regularly lived there for three months at a time and had developed a close bond with David.

The boy's father confirmed that the woman - who was also the main benefactor to the orphanage - had planned to adopt his son. Mr Banda said he had been waiting for the woman's brother to come and collect David. "We were waiting for them both to come back to the village, but Madonna took him first. If these people had adopted him, no one would have ever caused this fuss and I could be living my life as normal."

Mrs Glaves said she was perplexed when Madonna chose David. 'We put forward the names of children who had nobody, but she chose David knowing he had a living parent,' she said.

She added: 'Madonna has said she was told David's family had never been to visit him. But David's dad used to come to see him regularly.'

Malawian law says foreigners must live in the country for 18 months before they are eligible to adopt a child. Madonna has admitted that her team had to 'make the laws up as they went along' to adopt David.

When Mrs Glaves was involved in the adoption of the twins and a girl by two Canadian families, the process took three years. 'At first I was angry that Madonna seemed to be able to adopt David so quickly because of the length of time and stress the other two families had to endure,' she said. 'In my six years working in Malawi, they are the only orphans I know to have left the country. Madonna obviously had very good lawyers.'

Last week Madonna, 48, said that when she met David at the orphanage she was told his mother had died of Aids, while his father's whereabouts were unknown. But Mr Banda said: 'This is not true. I used to cycle there almost every week to play with him, and his grandmother would sometimes go and spend a few days there. David was not an abandoned baby. He was very much loved.'

On the claim that his wife had died of Aids, he said: "She never went for an HIV test, so how could anyone know?"



From today's Toronto Star:

Madonna's controversial adoption of an African baby has an Ontario angle, although the grandmother of five is rather tired of talking about it.

"I think it's high time the press left them alone," said Jane Glaves, 69, a retired Brantford schoolteacher, of Madonna and her filmmaker husband, Guy Ritchie.

Glaves spends half the year living at the Home of Hope, the Malawian orphanage where Madonna and Ritchie adopted 13-month-old David Banda last month.

Glaves has been visiting the orphanage in the rural village of Mchinji, west of the capital Lilongwe, regularly for about three months at a time for the past six years. In that time, the number of children at the orphanage has grown from 160 to 420, it has been wired for electricity and received about $100,000 from Canadians inspired by presentations Glaves gives at local churches and community organizations.

As soon as she arrived in Mchinji, Glaves began a nursery school, which then sprouted a primary school. A high school opened last year.

The orphanage, which is funded by several charity groups, plays an important role in the community. It takes in women who have nowhere to live who show up "with a baby on their back and another one at their feet." The women become foster mothers and receive flour in exchange for working in the fields, where the orphanage grows maize and beans on its 40-hectare lot.

Farming and construction also provide work for local men and they hire teachers, too.

"This lady does a lot of good over there," said John Paul DeBoer, an owner of Brant Screen Craft in Glaves' hometown. The printing company donated $7,500 in May to help Glaves ship a 12-metre container filled with gifts and supplies for the new high school.

Three children from the orphanage were adopted by Canadian families in 2003; these adoptions were the first by non-nationals out of Malawi. Glaves spearheaded the complicated three-year process, first applying to take the two baby boys and five-year-old girl home with her to Canada, then helping the two Ontario families with the rest from here.

`Everything (about the Malawian adoptions) was done according to the rules'

Jane Glaves, retired Brantford schoolteacher and orphanage caregiver

Taking them to Canada helped her legally circumvent a Malawian law requiring potential adoptive parents to live in the country for 18 months, which she called "a totally impossible situation." She didn't want to go into the details, but said: "everything was done according to the rules."

Although she was a pioneer, Glaves said she doesn't pretend to be an expert in the non-national Malawian adoption process and doesn't know exactly how Madonna was able to take her new son home to England so quickly.

"I think (Malawian officials) realized that David could do well," she said.

After David's father took him to the orphanage, he became one of the many babies Glaves takes to live with her in the small house she has there. David's mother died shortly after childbirth and he was very sick.

"We've managed to bring him through," she said, adding that he was just starting to stand up when she left in September.

Glaves was skeptical at first when she learned of the pop singer's interest in adopting David.

"I was only shocked because it was Madonna. I had to get my head around that and realize she's a good mother," she said. "I've been very impressed with everything I've seen about her since."

Wednesday, an article in the London Daily Mail quoted David's father as saying another woman had wanted to adopt the baby but Madonna took him first.

"I don't know where they get that stupid nonsense," Glaves said of the story. She then suggested David's father might have been confused when she spoke with him and the boy's grandmother before she last left Malawi, showing him a picture of David at the orphanage.

Glaves also said that, contrary to Madonna's widely reported claims, the father and grandmother visited the orphanage.

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