Mme Chirac Lends Hallyday a Hand for Fast-Track Adoption Vietnamese
Lichfield, John, The Independent (London, England)
TWO WEEKS ago, she was an abandoned three-month-old baby in an orphanage in one of the poorest regions of Vietnam. Now, Jade Smet, or Jade Hallyday as she will inevitably be known, is on the front page of French celebrity magazines in a Christian Dior baby suit.
A star is born. Or rather, a star is adopted.
At 61, Johnny Hallyday, France's everlasting rock star, has just become a father for the third time. He and his wife, Laeticia, have adopted a foreign baby, just as 4,000 other French couples did last year.
Unlike many other couples, however, they have not had to wait several years for their child. Controversy has erupted over allegations that Bernadette Chirac, wife of the President, intervened with the Vietnamese authorities to fast-track the adoption of Jade while on a state visit to Hanoi with Jacques Chirac in October.
Johnny Hallyday (real name Jean-Philippe Smet), although vilified in his youth as a pernicious, American-influenced corrupter of French youth, has long been regarded as a national treasure ("notre rocker national"). He is a personal friend of the Chiracs.
The investigative and satirical newspaper Le Canard Encahine reported this month that Mme Chirac smoothed the path for the adoption. She reportedly asked Vietnamese officials: "Have you ever heard of Johnny Hallyday?" and said the Hallydays were among 350 French couples waiting to adopt Vietnamese babies.
Within six weeks, the Hallydays collected Jade from the Thanh Ba orphanage in the province of Phu Tho, a poor area 40 miles north- west of Hanoi.
Other couples, who have been trying for years to find their way through the - frequently justified - protections and bureaucracy surrounding foreign adoptions, have cried foul. They point out that a 61-year-old man with two grown-up children from previous marriages would not, ordinarily, be considered a suitable adoptive father.
One would-be father has been on hunger …
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Publication information: Article title: Mme Chirac Lends Hallyday a Hand for Fast-Track Adoption Vietnamese. Contributors: Lichfield, John - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: December 11, 2004. Page number: 32. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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