Page last updated at 14:06 GMT, Friday, 3 April 2009 15:06 UK

Madonna loses Malawi adoption bid

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Footage of Madonna in Malawi following the adoption ruling

A Malawian court has ruled that US pop star Madonna has failed in her bid to adopt a second child from the country.

"I must decline to grant the application for the adoption of the infant," judge Esmie Chondo said after a closed-door hearing on Friday.

The application has been rejected over residency rules.

Madonna, who flew to Malawi on Sunday, was not in court to hear the ruling over Chifundo James, three. Her lawyer said she would lodge an appeal.

A local journalist reads out the judge's decision outside the courthouse

The 50-year-old singer applied to adopt Chifundo James, whose name translates into English as Mercy, on Monday.

Had her application been successful, Chifundo would have been a sister to David, the first child she adopted from the African country, and her biological children Lourdes and Rocco.

Chifundo is in the same orphanage that previously housed David, now three years old.

Trafficking concerns

Madonna's application was rejected because of a requirement that prospective parents be resident in the southern African state for 18 to 24 months.

To deny Chifundo James the opportunity to be adopted by me could expose her to hardship and emotional trauma which is otherwise avoidable
Madonna in newly-released court papers

The rule was waived in 2006 when Madonna was allowed to take her adopted son, David Banda, to London before his adoption was finalised in 2008.

In the ruling, read out outside the court, the judge also voiced concerns about the potential ramifications a ruling in Madonna's favour might have on adopted children's human rights.

"By removing the very safeguard that is supposed to protect our children, the courts by their pronouncements could actually facilitate trafficking of children by some unscrupulous individuals," she said.

The judge also noted that Chifundo had been placed in one of Malawi's best orphanages and no longer suffered the severe poverty endured after her mother died in childbirth.

"It is evident that Chifundo James no longer is subject to the conditions of poverty at her place of birth," she said in the ruling, made at the hearing in Malawi's administrative capital Lilongwe.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Surely, once adopted, she could have gotten anything money can buy. But is that really everything a child should receive?
Esther, Belfast

According to court papers just released, Madonna had said she was "able and willing to securely provide for Chifundo James and make her a permanent and established member of my family".

"To deny Chifundo James the opportunity to be adopted by me could expose her to hardship and emotional trauma which is otherwise avoidable," she continued.

However, Madonna's efforts to adopt the three-year-old attracted criticism from some parties who said the little girl would be best off with relatives.

The performer was also accused of using her fame and money to fast-track the adoption process, a charge refuted by her spokeswoman Liz Rosenberg.

The singer, who was represented in court by her lawyer Alan Chinula, first travelled to Malawi in 2006 to film a documentary in the country.



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Head to head: Madonna adoption
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Madonna urged to rethink adoption
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