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Malawi court rejects Madonna adoption bid

A judge has rejected Madonna’s request to adopt a second child from Malawi because of a requirement that prospective parents live in the southern African nation for at least 18 months, a judge and a lawyer said on Friday.

The judge who confirmed the decision did not make the ruling, but saw it. The lawyer was present when the ruling was made. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the case.

The 50-year-old pop superstar can appeal the ruling to Malawi’s Supreme Court.

The residency rule was waived in 2006 when Madonna was allowed to take her adopted son, David, to London before his adoption was finalised in 2008.

It was not clear why Judge Esme Chombo ruled differently on Friday.

Another judge had handled Madonna’s previous adoption case. Madonna was not in court on Friday.

Madonna’s efforts to adopt three-year-old Chifundo ”Mercy” James had drawn criticism from some activists who said the little girl would be best off with relatives. In court papers made public on Friday, Madonna said Chifundo’s grandmother was unable to care for her.

Madonna had promised to make Mercy a permanent part of her family and spare her the ”hardship and emotional trauma” of life as an orphan.

The girl’s mother, according to the affidavit, died at age 14 just days after her baby was born January 22 2006. There was no mention of the father in the affidavit. The mother’s brother is listed as having consented to the adoption.

”I am able and willing to securely provide for Chifundo James and make her a permanent and established member of my family,” Madonna said. ”To deny Chifundo James the opportunity to be adopted by me could expose her to hardship and emotional trauma which is otherwise avoidable.”

Malawi’s child welfare minister had endorsed Madonna’s adoption application.

”We have close to two million orphans in Malawi who need help,” Women and Child Welfare Development Minister Anna Kachikho told the Associated Press on Thursday. ”We can’t look after all of them as a country. If people like Madonna adopt even one such orphan, it’s one mouth less we have to feed.”

Critics accused Madonna of using her fame and money to fast-track the adoption process, but the singer said she had followed standard procedures. She faced similar allegations in 2006 when she brought home David, who is now three.

A coalition of NGOs called the Human Rights Consultative Committee had criticised Madonna’s adoption attempts, saying that adoption should be the last resort and that children need to be taken care of by their own family.

”Mercy James is a child who has her extended close family members alive and we urge Madonna to assist the child from right here,” the coalition said earlier this week.

Yet others from Malawi had applauded Madonna, saying the adoption would give Mercy enormous opportunities that she would be unable to achieve in the impoverished country, where 14% of adults are infected with the virus that causes Aids.

Madonna first travelled to Malawi in 2006 while filming a documentary on the devastating poverty and Aids crisis. On this trip she has been accompanied by her three children: three-year-old David, 12-year-old Lourdes and eight-year-old Rocco.

The four have visited an orphanage where David once lived and David also saw his biological father for the first time since he left Malawi in 2006. — Sapa-AP

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