Posted by: sayamika, the killer bunny | 2007 January 16

A Madonna

Just reading one of my favourite blogs, by Fat Doctor, which is a thoughtful and often very personal look at life from the point of view of a beautiful and sensitive soul who happens to be a doctor.

She was talking about her desire for another child and her despair at China’s new and restrictive rules on just how perfect you have to be to become an adoptive parent.

Someone in the comments section jokingly suggested “pulling a Madonna,” and I wanted to comment without taking over, because of my own recent experience.

I met two azungu (white) families who had adopted Malawian children. They can attest that the government don’t make it easy, and the reception by local people is not always warm.

There are about 900 000 orphans in Malawi, a country of only 13 million people. Given that fact, you could be forgiven for thinking that the government and people of Malawi would welcome families from abroad looking to adopt a child. So why isn’t this the case?

I put this question to a woman who has worked in Malawi for the past eight years. She pointed out what should have been obvious: how orphaned children are regarded in Malawian culture.

It is true that there is normally a social safety net, that children would be taken in by their extended family.

What is not generally said is that these children are often not raised “as one of our own,” but are used as a form of cheap domestic labour. As in any society, these children are vulnerable to sexual and physical abuse. They are unlikely to be sent to school. They are treated as workhorses.

So what would a white family want with an African child?

It seems unlikely in a place where resources are so very scarce that this child will be a cherished one, given the best that the adoptive parents can afford in terms of education and food and clothing…. it seems unlikely that this child will be coming into a loving environment. It becomes much more believeable that these children will be exploited.

Child labour.

Trade in human organs.


The list of incredible and distasteful rumours goes on.



  1. Heartbreaking. I’m linking to you as soon as I get home tonight…

  2. Not ignoring this post (you raise a very interesting and little-known – at least in the Western media – point) but I wanted to comment on something completely unrelated: I’m loving the hockey news headlines on your blog. 🙂

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