LILONGWE, Malawi – A judge on Wednesday approved Madonna's adoption of a Malawian boy she met in an orphanage in 2006, but the singer was not present for the ruling.
The 49-year-old pop star was not in court for the ruling, which took Justice Andrew Nyirenda an hour to read. Nyirenda said he was satisfied that Madonna and her British filmmaker husband, Guy Ritchie, "are perfect parents" for David, who will be 3 in November.
Madonna and Ritchie have been caring for David in London.
"It's now official: David is Madonna's baby," the singer's Malawian lawyer, Alan Chinula, told reporters.
David's mother died when he was a month old. His father, Yohane Banda, has 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 didn't object to the adoption.
Yohane Banda said Wednesday 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."
Critics had accused Madonna of using her celebrity status to circumvent Malawian adoption laws — allegations she denies.
Malawian law is fuzzy on foreign adoptions. Regulations stipulate only that prospective parents undergo an 18- to 24-month assessment period in Malawi, a rule that was 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," she said, comparing the process to the pain of childbirth. "But in the end I rationalized that, when a woman has a child and goes through natural childbirth, she [also] suffers an enormous amount."
Madonna and Ritchie also have a son, Rocco, 7, and Madonna has a daughter, Lourdes, 11.
Madonna met David while establishing charity projects in Malawi. She is funding her own and six other orphanages in the country.
Her Raising Malawi organization also announced that the singer is funding a multimillion-dollar academy for disadvantaged children in Malawi.
"I Am Because We Are," a new documentary that Madonna produced and narrated, shows poverty and disease devastating the lives of Malawi's children and urges people to volunteer.