Madonna accepts adoption monitor ruling

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LILONGWE, Malawi -- Madonna accepts a High Court ruling allowing a coalition of human rights groups to monitor her as she tries to adopt a Malawian toddler, the singer's lawyer said Thursday.

High Court Justice Andrew Nyirenda ruled Wednesday that the Human Rights Consultative Committee and the state-run Malawi Human Rights Commission could join the adoption process as friends of the court and pursue their application for a full judicial review of the interim custody order he granted to Madonna and her British filmmaker husband Guy Ritchie.

Madonna's lawyer, Alan Chinula, told reporters the couple have agreed to the ruling.

"The Ritchies called me from London and I explained to them the ruling ... they have no problem with the ruling and are also willing to sit back and wait," Chinula said in the capital, Lilongwe.

The rights groups say they are concerned the government cut legal corners to fast-track the adoption. They said that while they do not object to Madonna as a prospective parent, regulations must be followed to protect children.

Chinula said the challenge would help clarify Malawi's "antiquated laws" on adoption and that the Madonna case will be a "guiding case for future adoptions."

Yohane Banda -- the 32-year-old biological father of 14-month-old David -- said Thursday he hoped the celebrity case would lead to reforms to make it easier for foreigners to adopt Malawian children.

"In Malawi, there are too many underprivileged children, most of them orphans. I appeal to rich people with Madonna's kind heart to come and adopt these children," he said from his mud-and-thatch village of Lipunga in the central border district of Mchinji, some 120 miles from Lilongwe.

He added that he had heard that David, whom he surrendered to an orphanage soon after his birth, was being sent to expensive schools and hospitals under Madonna's care in London.

"We are happy here," he said. "I know Madonna loves the child, I want to encourage her to keep on loving David."

Banda's 28-year-old wife of 10 years, Marita, died of childbirth complications on Oct. 1, 2005 -- a week after giving birth to David.

Malawi regulations stipulate that prospective parents undergo an 18- to 24-month assessment period in the country. But Madonna and Ritchie were allowed to take David to their London home, which Malawian child welfare officials will visit twice to monitor the family.

An estimated 2 million children have lost one or both parents and hundreds are adopted by foreigners every year in Malawi, which has been ravaged by AIDS. Madonna's adoption bid coincided with her larger project to help Malawian orphans.

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