Page last updated at 09:29 GMT, Wednesday, 1 April 2009 10:29 UK

Singer 'following adoption rules'

Madonna and David Banda
Madonna adopted David Banda from Malawi in 2006

Pop star Madonna is not receiving any special treatment to help speed the process of adopting a young girl in Malawi, her spokeswoman has said.

Liz Rosenberg said the star was "not skirting any legal issues" in trying to adopt four-year-old Mercy James.

A Malawian judge held a closed-door hearing on Monday on the star's adoption application but delayed ruling until Friday.

Madonna adopted baby David Banda from Malawi in 2006.

"The adoption process for Mercy began over a year ago when Madonna met her on one of her visits to Malawi. The connection was instant and profound," Rosenberg told Reuters.

"Madonna's desire to adopt Mercy is totally heartfelt. She is not skirting any legal issues in her application to adopt this child and is looking to provide a loving family environment and the best education and health care possible," she added.

'Last resort'

Mercy has been living in an orphanage since her 18-year-old mother died shortly after giving 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.

The Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) has criticised 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," it said in a statement.

Earlier this week, the chairman of the HRCC said the star had "the money and the status to use her profile to manipulate, to fast-track the process".

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.

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