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Madonna leaves Malawi after adoption setback

LILONGWE, Malawi - Madonna left Malawi on her private jetSunday after being rebuffed in an attempt to adopt a second childfrom the poor African nation, air traffic control officials said.

Police roadblocks prevented reporters from approaching theairport but one police officer said Madonna carried David, heradopted Malawian son, up the steps of the Gulfstream jet.

It was bound for London's Gatwick Airport, air traffic officialssaid, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were notauthorized to speak to journalists.

The singer's lawyer has said that she will appeal against acourt ruling that she is not eligible to adopt a three year oldorphan girl, Chifundo "Mercy" James, because she hasn't lived inMalawi.

Madonna first spotted Mercy during a 2006 visit to an orphanagewhere she found David. Then, unlike now, she was able to leave thecountry with the infant and the adoption was completed last year.

But now Madonna is a single mother after her split from filmdirector Guy Ritchie. Her attempts to adopt a second child causedoutrage among some child welfare groups.

In a ruling Friday, Judge Esme Chombo said Madonna did not meetMalawi's strict definition of "resident." Noting that Madonna hadlast visited Malawi in 2008, the judge said the pop star "jettedinto the country during the weekend just days prior to the hearingof this application."

Malawi requires prospective parents to live in the country for18 to 24 months while child welfare authorities assess theirsuitability -- a rule that was bent when Madonna was allowed to takeDavid to London in 2006. Madonna has two other children, Lourdes,12, and Rocco, 8.

No date has been set for a court hearing to appeal the judge'sruling.

Madonna threw a farewell party Saturday at the luxury lodgewhere she was staying. Traditional dancers entertained guestsincluding government officials and staff from Madonna's RaisingMalawi charity.

The charity helps feed, educate and provide medical care forsome of Malawi's more than 1 million orphans, half of whom havelost parents to AIDS.


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