Mon, March 30, 2009
Entertainment > Music

Madonna at Malawi court; adoption on docket

2009-03-30 08:35:13 GMT2009-03-30 16:35:13 (Beijing Time)

Pop star Madonna is watched by local children during a visit to Chinkhota village near Lilongwe, Malawi Sunday, March 29, 2009. Madonna arrived in Malawi Sunday in a bid to adopt a girl, according to a local social welfare offical. The girl would become the second child the pop star has adopted from the impoverished African country.(AP Photo)

Pop star Madonna poses with her adopted Malawian son David Banda in Mphandula, 2007. Madonna arrived in Malawi on Sunday to adopt a second child from the impoverished nation and started off a new controversy over fast-track foreign adoptions.(AP Photo)

Madonna hopes to take four-year-old Mercy James back with her to New York

Mercy's uncles John Ngalande, Peter Baneti and grandmother Anaphiri say they do not want Madonna to take the child away

Madonna, accompanied by her 12-year-old daughter Lourdes, arrived in Malawi yesterday to collect her 'daughter' Mercy

Madonna appeared in court Monday in the capital of Malawi, where she was trying to adopt a 4-year-old girl as her second child from the southern African country.

The American pop star, dressed in a black skirt and black high heels, entered the courthouse in Lilongwe through a back door. She left about an hour later and it was not immediately known where she was headed.

The one adoption case on the court docket lists only the child's name — Chifundo James. The case was to be heard in a closed session before Judge Esme Chombo.

A welfare official and another person involved in the case say Madonna hopes to adopt a 4-year-old girl whose mother died soon after her birth. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.

Madonna has not commented on the adoption and did not speak to reporters Monday morning.

She adopted her son David, 3, in Malawi last year. Children's advocacy groups have accused her of wielding her immense wealth and influence to circumvent Malawian law requiring an 18- to 24-month assessment period before adoption.

Madonna brought both David and her 12-year-old daughter, Lourdes, to Malawi this time, arriving Sunday. David then spent 2 1/2 hours with his biological father at an exclusive lodge where the pop star is staying.

"I was very happy to see him," Yohane Banda told The Associated Press, adding that David did not recognize him. "He asked me who I was."

David's mother died when he was a month old. His father has said he believed he could not care for him alone, and that placing him in an orphanage was the best way to ensure David's survival.

On Sunday, Madonna and Lourdes visited a Malawi village and Madonna spoke to residents and looked over drawings for a new school there.

Madonna first traveled to Malawi in 2006 while doing charity work and filming a documentary on the devastating poverty and AIDS crisis here. Her Raising Malawi organization, founded in 2006, raises funds to fight poverty by providing food, shelter, education and health care for children here.

The U.N. estimates that half of the 1 million Malawian children with one or no parents was orphaned by AIDS, and that the virus that causes AIDS has infected 14 percent of adults here.


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