[artist id="1098"]Madonna[/artist] is in Malawi this week awaiting word on whether she will be allowed to adopt a second child from the African nation. According to The Associated Press, the singer arrived in Malawi on Sunday in a bid to adopt a 4-year-old girl named Chifundo ("Mercy") James, and attended a closed-door hearing on Monday (March 30) in which a Malawian judge delayed a ruling on the application for adoption until Friday.
The 50-year-old singer, whose 3-year-old son, David, was adopted from Malawi in 2006, reportedly spent about an hour in court on Monday in the capital of Lilongwe. It was unclear if any of the child's relatives were present at the courthouse, but officials told the AP that the girl is about 4 years old and that her unmarried teenage mother died soon after she was born. The girl's father is believed to be alive, but no details about his whereabouts were available. A spokesperson for the singer did not return requests for comment at press time.
Madonna has not made a statement about the adoption to date, but has reportedly faced criticism from some children's advocacy groups for using her considerable wealth and influence to circumvent Malawian laws that require an 18- to 24-month assessment period before adoption; similar judgments were made during the adoption of son David, which was finalized in 2008. The law requires that foreign adopters spend a year or more living in the country with the children they want to adopt.
Over the weekend, the British branch of Save the Children said the recently divorced singer was sending the wrong message with the adoption. "The best place for a child is in his or her family in their home community," spokesman Dominic Nutt said in a statement, according to CNN. "Most children in orphanages have one parent still living, or have an extended family that can care for them in the absence of their parents."
Should the adoption go through, Madonna will be a single mother of four. She has an 8-year-old son, Rocco, with ex-husband Guy Ritchie, a 12-year-old daughter, Lourdes, from her relationship with athletic trainer Carlos Leon, and adopted son David. Both David and Lourdes accompanied Madonna to Malawi, and CNN reported that David spent several hours with his biological father at the exclusive lodge where the singer is staying.
"I was very happy to see him," father Yohane Banda told the AP, although he noted that David did not recognize him. "He asked me who I was."