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Madonna in Malawi, Part Deux

By Matthew ClarkStaff Writer / March 29, 2009

Pop star Madonna is watched by local children during a visit to Chinkhota village near Lilongwe, Malawi on Sunday, March 29, 2009.

Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP

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Yes, that's right. The so-called Material Girl is in Malawi to adopt another baby.

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This time it's a girl named Mercy, and she's from the same orphanage as Madonna's adopted son, David Banda.

The first adoption caused a firestorm in Malawi, as the Monitor reported back in Oct. 2006.

From the moment Madonna's private jet landed in Lilongwe, Malawi's capital, earlier this month and departed last Friday, the southern African country has become divided over whether her adoption of a 13-month-old boy named David is in the child's best interests and whether the singer received special treatment by the government's adoption authorities.

"Malawi's regulations stipulate that prospective parents undergo an 18-to-24-month assessment period in the country, a rule bent when Madonna was allowed to take David to London," the Monitor explained in a follow-up story.

A group of 67 aid agencies, child charities, and church groups here joined to protest what they see as a celebrity using her status to circumvent legal procedures. "We are not against Madonna adopting a child per se," explains Justin Dzonzi, chairperson of the coalition, which has taken its grievance to the high court in Lilongwe. "We are simply asking that she, like everyone else, follows the laws."

This latest attempt to adopt is also drawing criticism, this time from Britain.

Save the Children UK Spokesman Dominic Nutt said: "The best place for a child is in his or her family in their home community. 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."

He added that the organization believes that "international adoption should only be considered if the child is a genuine orphan, and if all other alternatives in their own country have been genuinely exhausted."

He added: "We urge any celebrity to set an example, to follow internationally agreed procedures designed to protect the child, and to ensure that the child in question has no other options in their home community."

Madonna refused to comment on the adoption after she arrived Sunday, but she did say that it was "amazing" to be back in the country where she runs a charity organization.

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