Madonna's adopted daughter leaves Malawi


June 18, 2010 Updated Jun 20, 2009 at 12:10 PM EDT

Madonna's adopted Malawian daughter has flown out of the country to join the pop star, a Lilongwe airport official said Saturday.

"Mercy James left Malawi to join Madonna on Friday night," the official told AFP, adding that the three-year-old was accompanied on the private jet by a nanny, the nanny's husband and Phillip Bosphe, the head of Madonna's charity, Raising Malawi.

They were flying to London via South Africa, he added.

An employee at Kumbali Lodge where the group stayed, confirmed that the girl had left with them.

Last Sunday, a Malawian man, James Kambewa, who says he is the girl's father told AFP he had given up his fight to block the adoption, and said he wished the singer well.

On June 12 Malawi's Supreme Court granted Madonna's adoption of Chifundo James, whose name means "Mercy," after a lower court had turned it down on the grounds that the star had failed to meet an 18-month residency requirement.

Madonna, 50, first met Mercy at Kondanani orphanage in the southern Malawi district of Thyolo, 30 kilometres (20 miles) from the commercial capital Blantyre, during her first visit to the poor southern African nation in 2006.

She had already adopted another Malawian child, David Banda, and said that she wanted him to have a sibling from his home country. The residency requirement was also waived in his case.

The application had been met by fierce criticism by child welfare groups and rights activists who were opposed to the singer's efforts to take another child away from the country.

They argued that international adoption should be viewed as a last resort, even though Malawi is home to an estimated 560,000 children who have lost at least one parent to AIDS.

Malawi has no law specifically on international adoption, leaving judges to decide each petition case by case.

Madonna's charity, Raising Malawi, provides support for orphans and vulnerable children.

She has built a multi-purpose community centre at Mphandula village, 50 kilometres from Lilongwe, which looks after more than 8,000 orphans from scores of villages in the area.

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