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Madonna Defends Adoption Of Baby

Madonna defended her adoption of 1-year old Malawian baby David Banda on Tuesday, rejecting a swirl of protest over her decision and insisting she acted according to the law.

Speaking for the first time about the adoption, the pop star said in a statement that she hopes to make the arrangement permanent following an l8-month evaluation period, imposed by Malawi authorities.

"We have gone about the adoption procedure according to the law like anyone else who adopts a child. Reports to the contrary are totally inaccurate," Madonna said in the statement, issued via email after she was united with the boy at her London mansion.

Madonna said in her statement that she and film director husband Guy Ritchie had begun the adoption process "many months prior to our trip to Malawi."

She said she had not disclosed her intentions as she regarded the adoption to be a private matter, but confirmed that following the l8-month evaluation period, "we hope to make this adoption permanent."

"After learning that there were over 1 million orphans in Malawi, it was my wish to open up our home and help one child escape an extreme life of hardship, poverty and in many cases death, as well as expand our family," Madonna said.

"This was not a decision or commitment that my family or I take lightly," the pop star added.

David, who has spent most of his life in an orphanage in poverty-stricken Malawi, arrived before dawn at Heathrow Airport aboard a British Airways flight from Johannesburg, South Africa. He was bundled into a waiting Mercedes minivan in the arms of an aide, surrounded by airport officials and armed police officers.

2Photographers, reporters and camera crews clustered in the street as the van arrived at the brick Victorian townhouse near London's Hyde Park that Madonna, 48, shares with Ritchie, daughter Lourdes, 9, and son Rocco, 6. Madonna also has a house in the English countryside and a home in Los Angeles.

Last week, Malawi's High Court granted Madonna and Ritchie an interim adoption order giving them custody of the boy for 18 months. Madonna's New York-based publicist, Liz Rosenberg, said that during that time, the couple would be "evaluated by the courts of Malawi per the tribal customs of the country."

The order waived a Malawian law requiring would-be parents to live in the country for a year while social welfare officers investigate their ability to care for a child.

Child welfare groups in Malawi say the adoption violates a basic legal principle.

"The person who is adopting has to have been resident in Malawi and the infant adopted also has to have been resident in Malawi," Lilda Siyendammamja of the Malawi Women Lawyers Network told CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips

As David arrived in London, human rights and child protection groups were challenging the custody order in court in Malawi's capital, Lilongwe. They said they wanted to ensure that child-protection regulations were not swept aside to benefit a singer who has been generous to Malawi.

"He will need to be convinced that this was the best option for him and the only option. If there was a doubt that he could have stayed there, that he could have remained with this birth family then that is going to be challenge him as he grows up," Chris Atkins, a spokesman from Transnational and Transracial Adoption Group, told Phillips.

Madonna said in the statement she had been "overwhelmed and inspired" by her trip to Malawi and hoped it would help focus attention on the needs