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Rock divorce may highlight challenges of intercountry adoption

Every state in the union, including Minnesota, has its own laws regulating adoptions. We attempted to provide some clarity on this point in our post last week. The reflection in that item centered on how some things have changed, largely within the context of the social view of things, regarding this issue. At the same time, some things still remain the same.

One thing that remains clearly the same in all cases of adoption is that there are specific legal processes that need to be followed in order for the custodial changes that are sought to be recognized. That is true for cases in which the parties involved are residents of our state or some other. It is even more true if the case involves international adoption.

For an example of what we mean one need look no further than the divorce case of comedian Chris Rock and his ex-wife Malaak Compton-Rock. This is a couple who have two biological daughters of their own. But there is a third little girl in the picture and the breakup of the Rock marriage has her in a sort of legal quandary.

You see, the 7-year-old child was born to a couple in South Africa. But she has essentially been raised by the Rocks in the United States since she was just 9 months old. In the intervening years, young Ntombi has gone where the Rock family has gone and been photographed with the clan. Compton-Rock even identified her as her daughter in the dedication of a book she wrote in 2010.

But here's the problem. According to divorce documents obtained by the media, there's an apparent difference of opinion about whether Ntombi is family or not. Compton-Rock lists her as a dependent and is seeking child support for her and the older girls. Rock, however, names only his two biological daughters as dependents.

In the wake of the reports, South African authorities have said that they are looking into the matter to determine whether the girl might be a victim of child trafficking. Is her being in the U.S. a violation of the Hague Convention on Adoptions?

An attorney for Compton-Rock is vehement in denying that anything wrong has been done. He says his client is in the process of formally adopting the child and that it takes time.

Still, if the reports of the documents are to be believed, it is clear that there are some serious legal questions that need to be cleared up.

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