Madonna granted permanent custody of adopted son

A Malawi judge today approved Madonna’s adoption of a Malawian boy she found in an orphanage in 2006.

The pop star and her husband, film director Guy Ritchie, have been caring for the boy, David Banda, in London.

Two-year-old David’s mother died when he was just a month old.

His father said he believed he could not care for him alone and that placing him in an orphanage was the best way to ensure David’s survival.

The father has said he did not object to Madonna adopting David.

She was not in court for the ruling.

Critics accused Madonna of using her celebrity status to circumvent Malawian adoption laws - allegations she denies.

Malawian law is unclear on foreign adoptions. Regulations stipulate only that prospective parents undergo an 18 to 24-month assessment period in Malawi, a rule bent when Madonna was allowed to take David to London.

Speaking to reporters last week at the Cannes Film Festival, Madonna said the criticism hurt.

“It was a big struggle, and I didn’t understand it,” Madonna said, comparing the process to the pain of childbirth. “But in the end, I rationalised that when a woman has a child and goes through natural childbirth, she suffers an enormous amount (also).”

Madonna and Ritchie also have a son, Rocco, seven, and Madonna has a daughter, Lourdes, 11, from a previous relationship.

Madonna found David while establishing charity projects in Malawi. She is currently funding her own and six other orphanages in the country.

Her Raising Malawi organisation also announced that the singer is funding a multimillion-dollar academy for disadvantaged children.

“I Am Because We Are,” a new documentary Madonna produced and narrated, shows how poverty and disease are devastating the lives of Malawi’s children, and urges people to volunteer in Malawi.

"It's now official, David is Madonna's baby,'' Madonna's Malawian lawyer, Alan Chinula, said.

Meanwhile the boy’s father said he was glad the adoption was successful.

“I am glad it’s all over,” said the 33-year-old farmer who ekes out a living growing tomatoes, maize and onions. “I am glad David has a new, good home.”

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