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Critics slam Madonna's attempt to adopt Malawian girl

Madonna and her three children toured a day care center built by her charity yesterday as critics slammed the star's attempt to adopt a second child from this poor African nation and a judge delayed a ruling in the case until Friday.

Some child advocacy groups say the 50-year-old pop star's plans to adopt a young Malawian girl have been fast-tracked because of Madonna's money and status. One accused her of acting like a rich "bully."

After spending about an hour in court Monday, Madonna swapped her high heels and formal skirt for camouflage trousers and big black boots for an outing into the hot, lush Malawian countryside, The Associated Press reports.

Holding the hand of 3-year-old David, whose adoption from Malawi was finalized last year, the singer walked around the compound of the Mphandula child care center, about 30 miles from the capital.

Madonna also was accompanied by her 12-year-old daughter Lourdes and 8-year-old son Rocco - who sported a Mohawk haircut for his first visit to Malawi.

This was the first time the star had seen the day care center completed.

Meanwhile, a coalition of non-governmental organizations held a news conference in the capital, Lilongwe, criticizing the pop star's latest adoption application.

"We feel Madonna is behaving like a bully," said Undule Mwakusungula, chairman of the Human Rights Consultative Committee.

"She has the money and the status to use her profile to manipulate, to fast-track the process."

Madonna's spokeswoman Liz Rosenberg in New York did not immediately return a call seeking comment yesterday.

The girl Madonna is hoping to adopt is about 4 years old, according to a Malawian welfare official and another person involved in the proceedings. Both confirmed an adoption application was under way.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is considered sensitive.

Yesterday's court roll listed only the child's name - Chifundo James, which means "Mercy" in a local language. Her uncle, John Ngalande, has said she was turning 4 soon.

Earlier yesterday, David spent 2 1/2 hours with his biological father at an exclusive lodge where the pop star is staying.

"I was very happy to see him," the father, Yohane Banda, told The Associated Press, adding that David did not recognize him. "He asked me who I was."

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