A Malawian judge has rejected Madonna's request to adopt a 3-year-old girl due to a residency requirement, her lawyer said.
Malawian regulation requires prospective parents to reside in the country for 18 to 24 months.
Madonna's lawyer, Alan Chinula, told The Associated Press that the pop star, who did not attend Friday's hearing, can appeal the Supreme Court ruling. The singer adopted son David, now 3, in 2006 without fulfilling the residency requirements. The adoption was mired in controversy as many felt it was fast-tracked due to her celebrity status.
In her ruling on Friday, Judge Esimie Chombo said high-profile celebrity adoptions could lead to child trafficking.
"Anyone could come to Malawi and quickly arrange for an adoption that might have grave consequences on the very children that the law seeks to protect," she said.
Madonna was attempting to adopt Chifundo "Mercy" James, whose mother died shortly after giving birth. In court papers, Madonna stated the girl's grandmother was unable to care for her and that the mother's brother consented to the adoption.
While many children's rights groups opposed the adoption, Malawi's Information Minister, Patricia Kaliati, fully supported it.
"We support her adoption process," Kaliati said Thursday. "Madonna's been good to us. She's supporting over 25,000 orphans in this country, and she's proved she can take care of David."
TVGuide.com's calls to Madonna's rep were not immediately returned.