They had imagined America and England as lands of plenty, where no-one wanted for food. But now, the adopted children of high-powered celebrity couples say they are appalled at the deprived circumstances they’ve found themselves in. Madonna’s new son, Malawian David Banda, says his mother lives in a state of almost constant malnutrition.
The allegations will only add to the controversy surrounding the adoption. Malawian groups have accused the star of contravening the country’s strict adoption laws, which allow exceptions to the one-year waiting period only for slaves, soldiers and child prostitutes. Banda’s father expressed reservations about the decision, saying he didn’t know the situation was permanent, and had not seen Madonna act when he signed over his child’s rights.
“Madonna is everything I could hope for in a mother,” he says. “She even walks around half-naked to make me feel more at home. But she will often go days without eating, and when food does arrive, it’s nothing more than a handful of brown rice and a few vegetables,” he says. “At first I thought this country must be suffering from a terrible drought or civil war, but she assures me that’s not the case.”
Diet is not the only cause for concern. According to Banda, many celebrities still practice crude forms of pre-modern medicine, often relying on talismans to ward off disease and misfortune. “Even in Malawi, we’ve known for generations that cupping – putting hot glass on people to blister the skin – is quackery. But apparently the whole Western medical establishment carries less weight than a recommendation from Gywneth Paltrow.”
Banda says he plans to discuss the issue with other adoptees at the Oscars early next year, where African children are tipped to be the hottest red-carpet accessories.