April 1, 2008 / 8:19 PM / in 10 years

Madonna expected in Malawi over adoption next week

LILONGWE (Reuters) - American pop star Madonna is due back in Malawi next week for what is expected to be a final court ruling on whether she can adopt a child from the southern African country, airport officials said on Tuesday.

<p>Madonna poses backstage after being inducted during the 23rd annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York March 10, 2008. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid</p>

A senior official at Lilongwe International Airport told Reuters her jet was cleared for landing from April 8 and she was expected around that time.

In February, Malawian Information Minister Patricia Kaliati praised Madonna’s efforts to rally support for orphans in the impoverished country and said it would be wrong for the government to deny the pop star’s adoption of a child there.

Madonna is in the process of adopting a Malawian boy, David Banda.

She began adoption proceedings in 2006 after meeting the boy in a local orphanage. The toddler is living with Madonna and her film director husband Guy Ritchie in London.

The adoption 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 and is one of the poorest in the world.

There are an estimated 1 million orphans in the country, many of whom are infected with the HIV virus. Malawi’s government is amending its adoption laws.

Reporting by Mabvuto Banda, editing by Myra MacDonald

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