Madonna courted controversy when the mother-of-four adopted twin sisters from the poor African nation of Malawi.
The famed entertainer had already adopted David Banda in 2006 and then Mercy James in 2009, and has two biological children, 20-year-old Lourdes and 16-year-old Rocco, from previous relationships. On Feb. 15, Madonna was given custody of four-year-old Esther and Stella Mwale in Malawi and left the country with the girls in tow.
However, the father of the twin girls is still alive, a fact that has led many to criticize the decision to allow her to adopt the twins.
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She was allowed to circumvent Malawi's law concerning adoption, which states that foreigners must live in the country for 18 months before they can adopt.
"The law needs to be reviewed," said Alfred Seza Munika, director of Malawi’s Child Rights Advocacy and Paralegal Aid Centre, the Daily Mail reports. "It should be made clear to say what are the set procedures."
Human rights groups claim the publicity generated by Madonna's adoptions are inciting the poor to hand over their babies and young children to orphanages, when instead they should be encouraged to keep the children and care for them within their own families.
"We are very worried about this latest adoption," said Maxwell Matewere, Director of Eye Of The Child, a pro-children human rights charity in Malawi.
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"It sends out the wrong signal to the orphanages. It opens up for more children to be recruited.
"We used to have a culture of extended families caring for children who have lost one or both parents. But families are now being actively told that orphanages are the best place for children when clearly the best place for them is with their own families.
"It’s unjust to our culture and traditions and it’s unjust to our children who have no voice," she said.
Observers say Madonna's charity work in the country, which includes founding the orphans' charity Raising Malawi in 2006 and funneling $7.5 million into the construction of a pediatric surgery ward at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi's second largest city, helped her get round the residency requirement for adoptions in the country.
In early February, the High Court of Malawi found that the star has "established a presence in Malawi and is often in the country for her charitable work."
Madonna also got around the residency stipulation seven years ago, when she adopted her daughter Mercy.
According to US Magazine, Madonna's four older children enthusiastically welcomed the twins.
"They love the twins," a source close to Madonna said. "When Madonna said she wanted to adopt, her kids were all for it."
Madonna and Lourdes first met the twins during their July 2016 trip to the country to work on Raising Malawi. The story that the birth mother of the twins had died days after giving birth and that the birth father is unable to support them "really touched Madonna," said the source.