Elton John’s plan to adopt a child from Ukraine could result in more youngsters being abandoned, a children’s charity warned today.
EveryChild, an international children’s charity, said it was concerned by the singer’s announcement yesterday that he and partner David Furnish, 46, wanted to adopt a 14-month-old boy called Lev.
The organisation said that while it praised John’s help in raising awareness of the plight of children affected by HIV in Ukraine, it said the answer to the country’s deepening HIV and Aids crisis does not lie in international adoption, arguing that more children may be abandoned in children’s homes as a result of another high-profile, celebrity adoption.
If John, 62, were successful he would follow in the footsteps of actress Angelina Jolie, who has three adopted children from Cambodia, Vietnam and Ethiopia, and Madonna, who adopted a little girl from Malawi earlier this year.
EveryChild argues that 95% of the children in Ukraine’s institutions are not orphans and children born to HIV-positive mothers face particular discrimination. They are separated from their mothers and often end up in children’s homes and institutions segregated from children not affected by HIV, it said.
Anna Feuchtwang, chief executive of EveryChild, said: “High-profile adoption stories involving celebrities send out the wrong message.
“Research conducted in Ukraine by Liverpool University found that vulnerable mothers were encouraged by news of wealthy foreigners adopting from children’s homes to place their own children in care in the hope that they would get a better life.
“Most children placed in children’s homes are not adopted internationally; the majority face a bleak future.
“Children who grow up in a children’s home are much more likely to end up in prison, involved with drugs and prostitution and go on to abandon their own children.
“The actions of celebrities like Madonna, and now possibly Elton John, could be actually increasing the number of children in children’s homes in countries like Ukraine.”
The Ukraine government has recently introduced new legislation that requires authorities to explore all possible options such as extended family and domestic adoption before a child is placed in a children’s home, EveryChild said.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, John said Lev had “stolen his heart” and added: “I don’t know what the procedure is to adopt a boy from the Ukraine. I don’t think that I can because England has a treaty with the Ukraine but David is Canadian so we might be able to work through something like that.”