Madonna to visit Malawi with adopted son

LILONGWE Thu Mar 26, 2009 12:40pm EDT

LILONGWE (Reuters) - U.S. pop star Madonna, who has said she may adopt another child from Malawi, may visit the southern African country in the next few days, a government official said on Thursday.

Officials said Madonna will bring her Malawian son David, whose adoption was controversial. Critics accused the government of skirting laws that ban non-residents from adopting children in Malawi, which has been badly hit by an AIDS epidemic.

"We expect her over the weekend or earlier than that...but without a doubt she is coming before the end of this month," the official at the Ministry of Gender and Child Development told Reuters.

The local Nation newspaper this month quoted Madonna as saying that Malawian friends had told her David needed a brother or sister and that she would consider adopting another child, but only with the support of the Malawian people.

David is growing up in the high-flying life of a global popstar, worlds away from his village of Lipunga, where his relatives eat staple food like maize meal from simple bowls and meals are cooked on open fires.

Madonna is expected to visit a site where her charity, Raising Malawi, will start building a multi-million dollar school for girls, the officials said.

David's father, Yohane Banda, told Reuters that he may see his son next week.

"Someone from Raising Malawi visited me last week and told me that my son may be visiting me sometime next week. I am delighted, I want to see my son," he said.

Madonna, who began adoption proceedings in 2006, took David when he was 13-months-old after his father had placed him in an orphanage following the death of his wife.

She has said he was happy to be involved in a case that might pave the way for more adoptions in Malawi. An estimated one million children in the country have been orphaned by AIDS.

Rights groups tried to block David's adoption, saying it would be illegal.

Child rights activist John Soo Phiri said Madonna may find it more difficult to adopt another child as a single parent after her divorce from film director Guy Ritchie.

"She will have to prove that as a single parent she still has the abilities to raise another child alone," said child rights activist John Soo Phiri.

(Editing by Michael Georgy)

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