LILONGWE, Malawi (Reuters) - A Malawian court ruled on Wednesday that Madonna may formally adopt the baby boy she took home from an orphanage in the impoverished southern African nation, a lawyer for the U.S. pop star said.
"We are very happy with what the judge has ruled. It is a positive and beautiful judgment that will have an impact on Malawi's adoption laws," Malawian lawyer Alan Chinula told Reuters.
The High Court judge issued the ruling privately in chambers in Lilongwe in the company of lawyers. It was expected to be made public on Wednesday.
Madonna's adoption of David Banda has been controversial, with critics accusing the government of skirting laws that ban non-residents from adopting children in Malawi, which has been badly hit by the AIDS epidemic.
Madonna said last week the controversy had been difficult to deal with but she was happy to be involved in a case that might pave the way for more adoptions in Malawi. An estimated one million children in the country have been orphaned by
Chinula added that the ruling also recommended that Malawi speed up amendments to its laws, which prevent adoptions by non-residents. The government had provided a waiver to the pop singer.
Malawi's Human Rights Commission had opposed the adoption, which began in 2006. Banda, now about 3 years old, is living with Madonna and her husband, British film director Guy Ritchie, in London.
Banda's mother died shortly after giving birth to him. His father has approved of the adoption.