Ethiopian adoption agency backs Jolie


ADDIS ABABA -- Angelina Jolie's adoption of an Ethiopian baby was legal, the agency involved said on Thursday, rejecting reports that the child's relatives want her back.

Newspapers have reported this week that relatives of two-year-old Zahara, including a woman who says she is her birth mother, want the child returned to Ethiopia. Jolie adopted Zahara in July, 2005.

"The court in Addis Ababa approved the adoption after studying the document her grandmother wrote ... saying her daughter, the mother of Zahara, had died and she was too poor to bring her up," Tsegaye Berhe, the head of Wide Horizons for Children, which conducted the adoption, told Reuters.

"The grandmother brought three witnesses to court who testified that Zahara's mother had died and that her father was unknown ... The court also investigated the social status of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt before approving the adoption."

Tsegaye said the adoption was "legal and irrevocable", and he blamed reporters who he said had paid the relatives to raise the dispute.

"The controversy is media hype by unethical journalists exploiting the poverty of the grandmother," he said.