The star's left distraught as her two-year plan to adopt her beloved Malawian girl fails

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Madonnas been left ‘shocked and heartbroken’ after being refused permission to adopt little Chifundo ‘Mercy’ James from Malawi, Now can reveal.

The singer, who was confident that the Malawian court would rule in her favour, was so stunned when she learnt last Friday that judge Esme Chombo had ruled against the adoption that she was at a complete loss for words.

Madonna had every confidence that she’d be flying home with Mercy, so when the Malawian court ruled against her she felt shocked and powerless,’ says a source.

‘People think she’s just tried to get her overnight, but it’s actually been over a two-year period.’

The 50-year-old star had her heart set on adopting Mercy as a sister to David Banda, who she adopted three years ago.

But Madonna was branded ‘a bully’ by Undule Mwakasungula, national co-ordinator of the Malawi Human Rights Consultative Committee. Child advocacy groups also accused her of abusing her wealth and power to get special treatment from Malawian authorities and bypass a standard assessment period of between 18 and 24 months.

Despite that, Madonna believed she’d showed her commitment when she set up child welfare foundation Raising Malawi after her first visit to the country in 2006 – and she appeared to have the support of government ministers and most ordinary Malawians.

Mercy’s 18-year-old mother was unmarried and died soon after she gave birth, while her father is believed to be alive, but has little contact with his daughter.

‘It’s widely believed in Malawi that Madonna would provide a better life for Mercy and most people are disappointed by the ruling,’ says our source. ‘Madonna is a determined woman, though, so no one expects that she will take this verdict lying down.’

See the full story about Madonna in Now magazine dated 13 April 2009 – out now!