Madonna jets out of Malawi with adopted son

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LILONGWE, Malawi -- Madonna jetted out of Malawi on Sunday after a six-day visit to the impoverished homeland of the toddler she wants to adopt, carrying the boy in her arms as she boarded her plane.

Madonna and her husband, the film producer Guy Ritchie, took custody of David Banda last October after finding him in an orphanage. Critics said the 48-year-old star used her celebrity status to circumvent Malawian adoption laws -- allegations she denies.

The 20-month-old toddler waved to the bodyguards and driver who had escorted him during the visit. Madonna, wearing her now familiar straw hat, did not look back as she disappeared into the silver jet, with her daughter Lourdes following.

The star and her entourage spent their time visiting orphanages, projects for street children and agricultural development programs as well as opening a new day care center funded by her charity, Raising Malawi.

Madonna, who lives in London, made one visit to the Home of Hope orphanage, where David lived after his death of his mother in childbirth. There was no sign that Madonna had met with Yohane Banda, the peasant farmer who placed his son in the orphanage saying he was too poor to care for him.

It was also unclear whether Yohane Banda met alone with his son, as he had hoped.

David's mother died of complications in childbirth and his two siblings died of malaria in infancy.

Although a coalition of human rights groups challenged Madonna's adoption plans in the courts, many locals says they are happy that the celebrity has drawn attention to Malawi, which usually makes news because of drought, hunger and the occasional political scandal.

Madonna's childcare center aims to provide education, food and health care for up to 4,000 children. It is based on Kabbalah, Judaism's mystical sect, which counts the singer among its devotees.

Malawian child welfare officials are expected to file a report on the suitability of Madonna and Ritchie, as adoptive parents after two trips to their London residence in May and December. The singer has two other children, Lourdes, 9, and Rocco, 6.
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