Madonna confirms her adoption push in Malawi
By NEKESA MUMBI MOODY and RAPHAEL TENTHANI – 1 hour ago
MCHINJI, Malawi (AP) — Madonna said Tuesday that she was following standard procedures in her adoption of a Malawian girl, her first response to accusations that she is using her fame to speed the process.
The pop superstar also took her 3-year-old adopted son, David, to visit the orphanage in Mchinji, a village near the Zambian border, where he once lived.
The orphanage's director Lucy Chipeta said she brought David, Madonna, her 12-year-old daughter Lourdes and 8-year-old son Rocco to see the room and crib that David had used.
"It was an emotional moment," Chipeta told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "I am happy she brought her other children to see his roots."
Madonna took the children to the orphanage with a security detail including uniformed Malawian police officers and plain-clothed guards from a private security firm. The entourage used two Toyota Land Cruisers to block a horde of journalists and more than 200 curious children.
There were scuffles with the journalists, including cameramen and TV crews, as they tried to enter the brick-walled orphanage.
Madonna brought David on Monday to meet his biological father for the first time since he left Malawi in 2006.
"Madonna is committed to maintaining an ongoing relationship with David's Malawian roots," said Liz Rosenberg in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
She also confirmed Madonna is trying to adopt a girl named Chifundo "Mercy" James who is about 4 years old.
"Madonna is currently awaiting a judge's ruling regarding the adoption of Mercy James. She is following all standard procedures that are required," Rosenberg wrote.
A Malawian judge held a closed-door hearing Monday on Madonna's application to adopt the girl but delayed ruling on the matter until Friday.
The girl's 18-year-old mother was unmarried and died soon after she gave birth, according to the child's uncle, John Ngalande. Her father is believed to be alive but has little contact with his daughter, he said.
A coalition of non-governmental organizations called the Human Rights Consultative Committee has criticized Madonna's adoption attempts, saying that adoption should be the last resort and that children need to be taken care of by their own family.
"Mercy James is a child who has her extended close family members alive and we urge Madonna to assist the child from right here," a statement from the coalition said.
But others have said that the adoption would give enormous opportunities to the child that she would be unable to achieve in the impoverished country, where 14 percent of adults are infected with the virus that causes AIDS. The U.N. estimates that half of the 1 million Malawian children who have lost one or both parents have been orphaned by AIDS.
Malawian law is fuzzy on foreign adoptions. Regulations stipulate only that prospective parents undergo an 18- to 24-month assessment period in Malawi, a rule bent when Madonna was allowed to take David to London.
Madonna may also face legal challenges as a single mother; she and Guy Ritchie recently divorced.
Madonna first traveled to Malawi in 2006 while filming a documentary on the devastating poverty and AIDS crisis. Her Raising Malawi organization, founded in 2006, raises funds to provide food, shelter, education and health care for children.
Moody reported from New York. Associated Press Writer Celean Jacobson in Lilongwe, Malawi, also contributed to this report.