Page last updated at 15:50 GMT, Thursday, 2 April 2009 16:50 UK

Malawi backs Madonna adoption bid

Madonna and adopted son David Banda
Madonna took her adopted son David to meet his biological father this week

An official of the Malawian government has backed Madonna's bid to adopt a second child from the African country.

The singer is due to return to court on Friday to learn if she can adopt four-year-old Chifundo James.

"Madonna has been good to us," Information Minister Patricia Kaliati told news agency Reuters.

"Very few rich and famous people can take time to fly all the way to Malawi to support our children. We support her adoption process."

"[Madonna] is supporting over 25,000 orphans in this country and she has proved that she can take care of David," she added.

Madonna has said it is "amazing" to be back in the country where she adopted David Banda in 2006.

'Family environment'

Chifundo, the girl at the centre of the case, whose name translates into English as Mercy, is in the same orphanage that was previously home to David, who is now three years old.

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

Earlier this week, Madonna attended an hour-long hearing in Lilongwe to ask for permission to take Chifundo out of the country. She is seeking an 18-month interim adoption order.

Madonna with children Lourdes, Rocco and David Banda
Madonna's two biological children, Lourdes and Rocco, are also in Malawi

"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 for a child who has been in an orphanage since her birth," spokeswoman Liz Rosenberg said in a statement earlier this week.

In 2006, the singer founded a charity, Raising Malawi, which aims to provide accommodation, food, education and other support to orphans in the country.

But some human rights groups in Malawi have joined international charties in voicing their opposition to the adoption.

The chairman of the Human Rights Consultative Committee, Undule Mwakusunguraof has accused Madonna of acting "like a bully" saying: "She has the money and the status to use her profile to manipulate, to fast-track the process."

Madonna is applying to adopt Chifundo as a single parent following her divorce from film director Guy Ritchie, which was finalised in November 2008.

Malawi does not, as a rule, approve adoptions for single or divorced people, but the official at the country's welfare department said that each case was considered on merit.

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