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Madonna waits for new adoption ruling

LILONGWE, Apr 3 – While Madonna waits to hear Friday if she can adopt a second child from impoverished Malawi, one person has given the American pop diva his blessing: the biological father of her first adopted son.

"I am very very happy Madonna is going to adopt a sister called Mercy to David," the boy’s father Yohane Banda told AFP ahead of a court ruling on the star’s application to adopt Chifundo (Mercy) James.

The 50-year-old singer told him that she intends to adopt the three-year-old "to be a sister to David" — a move Banda supports but which has sparked fresh controversy over fast-tracked foreign adoptions.

"That’s great news…Mercy and David will grow up together and remind each other that they come from a poor country called Malawi and hope they will do something about it," the farmer said.

The meeting with Madonna, at an exclusive lodge on the outskirts of the capital this week, was the first time Banda met his son, now aged three, since the controversial adoption in 2006.

"I was excited to see David, he is a big and healthy boy now. He could have died if he was still with me," said Banda in a phone interview from his rural home south of Lilongwe.

"I played with David for a long time. Of course he couldn’t remember anything, he left when he was too young and I had to ask other people to translate the conversation because David was speaking English.

"I could not believe it was my own David. I was excited and shocked to see a different David," he added.

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Local reports have quoted the singer as saying that she wanted David "to stay connected to his Malawi culture".

Madonna’s provisional 18-month custody was made permanent last May. The boy was placed at a orphanage by his father after the death of her mother.

"As I have always said, I want Madonna to treat him as her own son, she is a kind woman, let’s have more of such women to adopt our children in Malawi because we are failing to look after them," said Banda.

The "Like A Virgin" singer has been in the news recently because of her divorce from British film producer Guy Ritchie, with whom she has a son Rocco, now aged eight. Her daughter Lourdes comes from another relationship.

Mercy has been staying at the orphanage following the death of her mother, who died shortly after giving birth to her. It is said that Madonna first met the child during her first visit in the country to adopt David.

The pop singer caused controversy then as she was accused of using her fame and wealth to fast-track the process because Malawi does not have inter-country adoption legislation.

A lodge where the 50-year-old divorcee is staying has been booked out for the rest of her stay — creating an unusual media frenzy in the landlocked country.

"She is behaving like a bully because she has money and status. She is trying to fast-track the process," Undule Mwakasungura, chairperson of the Malawi Human Rights Consultative Committee which represents 85 rights bodies, told reporters.

The Save the Children charity last week stressed that the best place for a child was with their family in their home country.

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"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," spokesman Dominic Nutt said.

Malawi is one of the world’s poorest nations, with more than half of the population of 12 million living on less than one dollar a day.

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