March 29, 2009 / 1:19 PM / 10 years ago

Madonna in Malawi for new child adoption

LILONGWE (Reuters) - Pop singer Madonna arrived in Malawi on Sunday ahead of a court examination this week of her bid to adopt a second Malawian child, a girl called Mercy James, officials said.

U.S. pop singer Madonna looks on at a site where she is setting up a school near Lilongwe, March 29, 2009. REUTERS/Eldson Chagara

“She disembarked from the cargo area and jumped into her convoy,” an airport official said.

An employee said Madonna had checked into an exclusive lodge, accompanied by her son David Banda, whom she adopted in 2006 from the same Mchinji Home of Hope orphanage where four-year-old Mercy lives.

The employee said David’s biological father Yohane Banda was at the lodge to see his son.

Some Malawians opposed David’s adoption, accusing the government of skirting laws that ban non-residents from adopting children. Critics say Mercy’s adoption would also violate Malawi’s laws.

Court clerks confirmed the name of the child last week and said Madonna or her associates were expected to appear in court on Monday for the adoption proceedings.

The local Nation newspaper this month quoted Madonna, 50, as saying Malawian friends had told her David needed a brother or sister and that she would consider adopting another child, but only with the support of the Malawian people.

Madonna took David when he was 13-months-old after his father had placed him in an orphanage following the death of his wife.

The singer has said despite the controversy around David’s adoption, she was happy to be involved in a case that might pave the way for more adoptions in Malawi, where an estimated one million children have been orphaned by AIDS.

Malawi civil society groups say they plan to oppose Mercy’s adoption.

“Tomorrow we will hold a press briefing because we feel that we need to challenge this adoption,” Mavuto Bamusi, national director for the Human Rights Consultative Committee, told Reuters.

On Sunday Madonna toured a site where her charity, Raising Malawi, plans to build a multi-million dollar school for girls in Chikhota village, about 12 km (7 miles) outside Lilongwe.

Sporting a sun hat and a dark top, Madonna did not respond to questions from the media at the scene.

David’s life with Madonna is far removed from his village of Lipunga, where the staple food is maize and residents cook their meals on open fires.

Madonna was divorced last year from British film director Guy Ritchie but says this will not deprive their three children of either parent.

Editing by Jon Boyle

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