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Madonna and child: another one from Malawi

Madonna's bid to adopt a second Malawian child, a baby girl called Mercy James, will be examined by a court in the southern African country next week, officials said yesterday.

The 14-month-old would be a sister for Madonna's three children - daughter Lourdes Maria, and sons Rocco and David, whose adoption by the American pop star aroused controversy. Mercy James comes from the same orphanage as David.

"Her name is Mercy James from Mchinji Home of Hope orphanage. She has no father and mother, they both died ... We finished the assessment yesterday in readiness for the courts next week," an official at the Malawian ministry of Gender and Child Development said yesterday.

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

The singer is expected to arrive in Malawi over the weekend, officials said.

Some Malawians opposed David's adoption, accusing the government of skirting laws that ban non-residents from adopting children in Malawi, which has been badly hit by an AIDS epidemic.

Mavuto Bamusi, national coordinator for the 60-member Human Rights Consultative Committee, said this adoption would also violate the country's adoption laws.

"As far as we are concerned, nothing has changed in terms of adoption laws in the country," he said.

The local Nation newspaper this month quoted Madonna, 50, as saying that 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.

David's life with the global pop star is worlds away from his village of Lipunga, where his relatives eat maize meal as a staple food and meals are cooked on open fires. His father, Yohane Banda, said he is expecting to see his son next week.

Madonna, who was divorced last year from British film director Guy Ritchie, is one of the most successful singers of all time, with album sales of more than 200 million.


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