Elton John says wants to adopt Ukrainian baby

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DONETSK, Ukraine (Reuters) - British singer Elton John, visiting Ukraine with his AIDS charity foundation, said on Saturday he wanted to adopt a 14-month-old boy from an orphanage in the east of the country.

Ukraine has the fastest rising HIV rates in Europe. Two years ago the singer gave a free concert on the main square in Kiev attended by tens of thousands people to raise awareness of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and AIDS.

Elton John’s AIDS Foundation collaborates with the Ukrainian Anti-AIDS Foundation of Olena Franchuk, daughter of former President Leonid Kuchma.

He performed “Circle of Life” for children at the orphanage -- some there because their parents had died of AIDS. Later he and partner David Furnish, who had a 14-month boy called Lev on his knee, were asked whether they thought of adopting.

“David and I have always talked about adoption,” Elton John replied. “David always wanted to adopt a child and I always said ‘no’ because I am 62 and I think because of the travelling I do and the life I have, maybe it wouldn’t be fair for the child.”

“But having seen Lev today, I would love to adopt him. I don’t know how we do that but he has stolen my heart. And he has stolen David’s heart and it would be wonderful if we can have a home. I’ve changed my mind today,” he said.

John said the death of his long-term keyboardist, Guy Babylon, had also helped change his mind.

“Last week I lost one of my best friends ... It broke my heart because he was such a genius and so young and has two wonderful children. What better opportunity to replace someone I lost than to replace him with someone I can give a future to.”

Reporting by Sergei Karazy; writing by Sabina Zawadzki