Ukraine pours cold water on Elton's wish to adopt baby

15th September 2009, Comments 0 comments

She said Ukrainian law stipulates that foreign adoptive parents must be married couples and added that homosexual marriage is not recognized in the country.

Kiev -- Elton John may not adopt a Ukrainian orphan because the former Soviet republic's law allows foreigners to adopt only if they are married, officials told AFP Monday.

Sir Elton "does not have the right to do it because there are certain obstacles which cannot be overcome," Lyudmila Balym, an official within Ukraine's ministry for family, said.

She said Ukrainian law stipulates that foreign adoptive parents must be married couples and added that homosexual marriage is not recognized in the country.

The British singer-songwriter married his long-time partner, David Furnish, in December 2005 in Britain where same-sex marriages are authorized.

Balym added that the age difference between adoptive parents and the child must not exceed 45 years under Ukrainian law. Sir Elton, 62, and Furnish, 47, do not fulfill this criterion either, she said.

Sir Elton revealed on Saturday that he wanted to adopt a 14-month-old boy he had met in a Ukrainian orphanage, saying the youngster called Lev had "stolen his heart".

The British singer-songwriter, visiting the Ukraine with his AIDS charity foundation, performed for children at the orphanage, some of whose parents had died of the disease.

He follows a long line of pop stars, Hollywood celebrities and politicians seeking to adopt a child -- and he is not the first to find his private life a problem.

Controversy surrounded fellow megastar Madonna's adoption of two children in Malawi.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman and other Hollywood names have also made headlines by adding orphans from impoverished countries to their families.

US actress Mia Farrow adopted 10 of her 14 children in countries ranging from India to South Korea and Vietnam.

Sir Elton's adoption bid has already sparked heated debate in the young boy's homeland, with some expressing shock at the idea of giving the child to a gay couple.

"They are going to destroy this child's life," said Oleg, a 29-year-old serviceman from the area of the orphanage who only gave his first name.

"They will make him camp, just like they are. He is in all likelihood HIV positive, the best thing they could do is leave him to live out the rest of his life in peace."

"He will be seen as a pansy from the start and will become one without doubt," added Igor, a 43-year-old journalist.

It will not be possible to confirm whether the toddler is HIV positive until he reaches the age of 18 months, said staff at the orphanage, which is in the eastern city of Makeyevka.

But others supported the idea and said it could give the youngster the chance of a better life.

"Why not? At least the child will have a normal life," said Lyudmila Batikhina, a medical assistant at the orphanage.

Irina Kuzmenko, a student in the city of Donetsk not far from Makeyevka, went as far as to say she envied the child who had been picked out by the wealthy singer.

"Does it really matter who your parents are as long as they love you?" she said.

"I want him to adopt me too," she joked.

Ukraine has one of the fastest rising HIV rates in Europe.

Two years ago Sir Elton gave a free concert in the main square in Kiev attended by tens of thousands of people to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS in the country.

The star has sold more than 250 million records worldwide, with 29 consecutive Top 40 Hits and 35 gold and 25 platinum albums.


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