LILONGWE, Malawi – Madonna toured an impoverished village Sunday in Malawi, the central African nation where officials said she was expected to begin proceedings this week to adopt a young girl.
Madonna, casually dressed with a white fedora, walked through the village of Chinkhota holding the hand of her 12-year-old daughter, Lourdes. Dozens of reporters looked on.
The 50-year-old pop star refused to answer questions about reports that she was in Malawi to adopt a four-year-old girl. She said it was “amazing” to be back in the country where she runs a charity organization and from where she adopted her son David last year.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
LILONGWE, Malawi (AP) — Madonna, the original Material Girl, landed in a decidedly un-material nation Sunday, flying into the capital of Malawi where she was expected to begin proceedings this week to adopt a young girl.
Air traffic controllers at the airport in the capital of Lilongwe confirmed that her plane landed Sunday, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the matter with reporters.
This would be the second child the 50-year-old pop star has adopted from the impoverished African country. The adoption for her Malawian-born son David, 3, was finalized last year.
A Malawian welfare official and another person involved in the adoption proceedings say the girl Madonna is hoping to adopt is about 4 years old and her unmarried mother died soon after she was born. The girl’s father is believed to be alive but no other details were available. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is considered sensitive.
Madonna and the girl’s uncle are expected to appear in court on Monday to sign adoption papers.
A U.S. government official confirmed that an adoption bid by Madonna, an American, was under way. The luxury lodge where Madonna normally stays in Malawi has been fully booked and visitors are being turned away.
Madonna faced harsh criticism for years over David’s adoption. Children’s advocacy groups accused her of wielding her wealth and influence to circumvent Malawian law requiring an 18- to 24-month assessment period before adoption.
Austin Msowoya, legal researcher with Malawi’s Law Commission, played down concerns that a second adoption by Madonna would violate any laws.
He said the best interests of the child needed to be taken into account — whether that was staying in an orphanage in Malawi or getting “an education with Madonna.”
“When you look at these two options, then perhaps it becomes in the best interests of the child to allow the adoption if the parents and the guardians consent to it,” he told Associated Press Television News on Saturday.
But Save the Children UK said the recently divorced superstar risked sending the wrong message by going through with the second adoption.
“International adoption can actually exacerbate the problem it hopes to solve,” spokesman Dominic Nutt said. “The very existence of orphanages encourages poor parents to abandon children in the hope that they will have a better life.”
Nutt said he was not suggesting that Madonna was doing anything wrong — but he said the whole process of international adoptions was often flawed and sometimes linked to criminal activity.
He said, barring exceptional circumstances, children should be kept in the care of their extended families or within their communities.
Madonna’s spokeswoman Liz Rosenberg in New York, who has not commented on the adoption reports, told The Associated Press the star would not respond to comments from Save the Children.
In a recent interview in Malawi’s leading daily The Nation, the singer said she was considering another adoption but would only do it if she had “the support of the Malawian people and government.”
If the adoption goes through, Madonna would become a single mother of four. She also has an 8-year-old son, Rocco, with former husband and British film director Guy Ritchie and a 12-year-old daughter, Lourdes, from a previous relationship.
She and Ritchie, who were married in 2000, obtained a preliminary divorce decree in November 2008.
Madonna first traveled to Malawi in 2006 while doing charity work and filming a documentary on the devastating poverty and AIDS crisis there. She is also establishing a school for girls there.