US pop star Madonna during her visit to Salaza village near Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday April 3 2009.[Agencies]
LILONGWE, Malawi – Wealthy, famous, fabulous at 50 — but not a mother of four. Pop star extraordinaire Madonna lost a bid Friday to adopt a second child from Malawi, rejected by a judge who said she would not bend the country's strict residency rules even for a wealthy celebrity.
The decision came as a surprise since Malawi's child welfare minister came out Thursday in support of the singer's application to adopt 3-year-old Chifundo "Mercy" James.
And it was a rare setback for the material girl who has projected an image of being able to attain whatever she sets her sights on, be it personal or professional.
Madonna was not present in the courtroom for the ruling, and there was no immediate comment from her spokeswoman in New York. The pop star's lawyer filed notice he would appeal, but no hearing date was set.
In a lengthy ruling, Judge Esme Chombo sided with critics who have said exceptions should not be made for pop superstar, who has set up a major development project for this impoverished, AIDS-stricken southern African country.
Noting that Madonna had last visited Malawi in 2008, the judge said the pop star "jetted into the country during the weekend just days prior to the hearing of this application."
"In my opinion, this would completely remove (Madonna) from the definition of `resident,'" the judge said.
Malawi requires prospective parents to live in the country for 18 to 24 months while child welfare authorities assess their suitability — a rule that was bent when Madonna was allowed to take her now 3-year-old son David to London in 2006 before his adoption was finalized two years later. Madonna has two other children, Lourdes, 12, and Rocco, 8.