Madonna pleads for Mercy
Madonna pleads for Mercy
By VIRGINIA WHEELER
MADONNA has appeared in court in Malawi - spending more than an hour trying to persuade a judge to let her adopt a second African orphan.
The superstar singer - who caused huge controversy after adopting David Banda, three, from the country in 2006 - is "desperate" to take four-year-old Mercy James home with her as a sister for her African son.
Dressed sedately in a smart black dress, white Panama hat, and small kitten heels, Madge, 50, turned up the High Court in Malawi's capital Lilongwe at 8.40am, leaving an hour and 20 minutes later with a silent smile.
Court sources yesterday said the Queen of Pop told Judge Esmie Chombo that she was a "deeply loving mother" who would care for Mercy as well as her own.
Following the hearing in Court Number One, the adoption application was yesterday adjourned - with the judge's ruling due on Friday.
Mercy's uncle Peter Baneti is expected to come to court this week and sign papers allowing his niece to be adopted - despite the tot's devastated grandmother Lucy Cekechiwa's anguish that her granddaughter is being "stolen" from her.
Decision time ... snappers wait outside court
Madonna has applied for an 'interim custody order' - which, if accepted by the judge - will allow her to leave with Mercy on Saturday.
The singer plans to bring the tot to live with her in New York and London while the two-year full adoption process takes place, just as she did with David.
As a single mother of 50, Madge has been criticised as an unsuitable candidate for adoption.
And human rights campaigners yesterday slammed the star, claiming she has used her "financial clout" to circumnavigate the country's adoption laws.
Mavuto Bamusi, of the Human Rights Consultative Committee - one of as many as 50 groups trying to block the adoption - yesterday said: "The Malawian authorities have been bulldozed - by Madonna's money."
"It is one rule for her, one for others."
Meanwhile, sources at Lilongwe's luxury Kumbali lodge, where Madonna is staying, yesterday told of the touching scenes as the singer's children Lourdes, twelve, Rocco, eight, and David, three, met their new sister for the first time.
After the children sat down for a special meal together Rocco - Madonna's son by her ex-husband Brit film director Guy Ritchie, 40 - pulled his younger brother and sister Lourdes outside to play football in the lodge's luscious gardens.
But he then turned to gently take his prospective new sister Mercy by the hand - persuading her to come and play outside with them too.
New tot ... Mercy James
The source yesterday said: "Mercy is a beautiful little girl, with eyes like saucers and a smile that could melt butter.
"She's spent the last few days in the lodge with one of Madonna's nannies, running around in circles and endlessly stroking the owner's cat.
"But, when Madonna arrived on Sunday night, Mercy started laughing and clapping her hands.
"It was very emotional for Madonna too - who hasn't seen Mercy since she was a two-year-old.
"Madonna sat with her for hours and was very attentive. She seemed so proud to be sat holding this Malawian little girl."
The source added that David - who has returned to his homeland for the first time in two years - was presented with a special strawberry cheesecake by staff at the lodge.
And Mercy tucked into a bowl of 'Supergate' - a local rice dish.
David was also reunited with his peasant father Yohane Banda, 34 - after the farmer made repeated appeals over the past two years to see his son again.
Yohane yesterday told how his "very special boy" didn't even recognise him when they were introduced - with the tot asking: "Who are you?"
He added: "My son didn't recognise me and asked me who I was.
"I understand, as he was a barely a year old when he left - too young to remember these things.
"And, truthfully, I didn't recognise him either as he has grown so much.
"David sat with me and spent time squeezing and playing with my nose.
"It was the proudest day of my life, to sit here again with my son. Now I want him to meet his new half brother and sister and show him the village in which we all live."