Madonna's Adopted Son Leaves Malawi


LILONGWE, Malawi (AP) - A chartered plane carrying a 1-year-old boy that Madonna is seeking to adopt left Malawi on Monday, an immigration official said.

The boy, David Banda, was accompanied on the plane by two Britons and two Americans, one of whom listed her occupation as nanny, according to the immigration official at the airport who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The Malawian immigration official said Monday that though he saw only a U.S. visa in the child's passport, he understood from those traveling with David that they were headed to England, where Madonna has a home, via South Africa.

The U.S. Embassy would not comment, saying visa issues were private.

Human rights groups want Malawi's courts to review a ruling allowing Madonna to adopt the child from this impoverished, AIDS-stricken southern African country, saying they want to ensure child protection regulations were not swept aside to benefit a pop star who has been generous to the country.

The Malawi High Court granted preliminary custody to Madonna and her film director husband Guy Ritchie on Thursday, even though the law requires would-be parents to live in the country for a year while social welfare officers investigate their ability to care for a child.

Justin Dzonzi, a lawyer for a coalition of human rights and child advocacy organizations, said his group had filed documents Monday asking a judge to review the adoption.

Boniface Mandere of Eye of the Child, a local child protection society involved in the challenge, told The Associated Press earlier Monday: "The court seems to have made a decision based on Madonna's wealth. But being a good parent is not about money, it is about caring, having heart, it's about love."

He said his group was not necessarily opposed to the adoption, but wanted to ensure the law was followed.

David did not leave with Madonna and Ritchie on Friday because final legal arrangements were still being made, Madonna's spokeswoman said last week. Over the weekend, Malawian officials had said, members of Madonna's entourage stayed behind to care for the boy.

Madonna and Ritchie have a son, Rocco, 5, and the singer also has a daughter, Lourdes, 9.

Madonna's charity Raising Malawi is setting up an orphanage for up to 4,000 children.

Malawi is one of the world's poorest countries, devastated by AIDS and periodic drought. According to the National AIDS Commission, the HIV/AIDS pandemic has left close to a million orphans here. Because AIDS has killed so many young adults, many children are left in the care of grandparents or older siblings.