Madonna's application to adopt a second child from Malawi has been rejected, CNN reports.
It is not yet clear why Madonna's application was rejected, but Court registrar Ken Manda said the singer's bid to adopt 3-year-old Mercy James - previously believed to be aged four - had been rejected because Madonna is not a resident of Malawi. A law reportedly requires prospective parents to be a resident in the country for 18 to 24 months.
The other deal breaker in the case is that the judge in the case believed that Mercy was being well cared for at the orphanage.
The case has stirred up controversy in the tiny, impoverished African nation where some human rights campaigners have accused the 50-year-old of child "kidnapping." They claim she has used her fame and money to by-pass the official adoption procedures.
“Yes, Malawi is poor, yes, it has a high mortality rate – we are not disputing these facts. But [it] is not an excuse to take children out of the country,” the national coordinator of Malawi Human Rights Consultative Committee, Mavuto Bamusi told CNN.
The little girl’s mother died a few days after she was born and she has lived in an orphanage all of her life. Still, some of Mercy's extended family members opposed the adoption. And the charity, Save the Children, has compared Madonna’s adoption efforts to “human trafficking,” arguing it that it would be best for James to stay in Malawi, reports the Telegraph.
However, a majority of Malawians were behind the pop star's effort to adopt three-year-old Mercy, according to a Malawian radio host.
“Ninety-nine percent of the people calling in are saying, ‘let her take the baby,’” Marilyn Segula, who works for Capital FM, told CNN. “People are saying: ‘Why are these NGOs pretending to care now? If anyone wanted to amend the law, they should have done it with other adoptions.’”
Madonna, who was not in court for the ruling, can appeal to Malawi's Supreme Court.