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As Madonna awaits word on whether the appeal of her failed attempt to adopt 4-year-old Mercy James from Malawi will be successful or not, the British tabloids are speculating that she's begun scouting other African countries in order to add to her brood -- speculation the pop icon denies.

First up is London's Mail on Sunday, which says Madonna, 50, has been advised to "expect the worst" in her attempt to bring home Mercy and is now preparing for such an eventuality by researching the small southern African nation of Lesotho.

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"Madonna is not a patient person -- she's used to getting what she wants," a source points out. "She has said she won't give up on Mercy, but if she's blocked from adopting her legally then she will think about trying to adopt another baby."

The paper suggests that the Big M, who is mom to Lourdes, 12, Rocco, 8, and David, 3, whom she adopted from Malawi in 2006, tipped her interest in Lesotho by putting in an appearance at Prince Harry's recent polo match in New York, a benefit for his Sentebale charity, which raises money for needy children in the impoverished region.

"Madonna was devastated when she was told she couldn't adopt Mercy. Her plan now is to start the ball rolling somewhere else. She has promised David a sister and she wants another African child," continues the insider. "If a miracle happens and she gets to adopt Mercy, I see no reason why she wouldn't go ahead and adopt another child from a different African country as well."

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But could that "different African country" also mean Nigeria? Britain's News of the World believes that's actually where Madonna is focusing her adoption efforts, and contends that she's including Jesus "Just a Friend" Luz in the process.

"She was distraught when her adoption failed in Malawi," a confidant tells the tabloid. "At the time she blamed the fact that her relationship with Jesus made her look like she was going through some midlife crisis. But now she's looking at adoption centers in Nigeria and has got another female friend to make an initial approach to test the waters."

According to the source, "She's determined not to make the same mistakes and feels that the only way to do this is to get Jesus involved" from the start. Madonna is purportedly planning to visit a Nigerian orphanage, possibly with Luz in tow, sooner rather than later.

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"Failure is not an option," declares the mole. "Madonna wouldn't be able to take rejection for the second time."

But when we contacted Madonna's spokeswoman for comment, she not only denied the Lesotho and Nigeria adoption rumors, but also cautioned that it's premature to write off her efforts to make Mercy a part of her family.

"There is no truth to these reports," Liz Rosenberg tells us. "Madonna is awaiting judgment from the Malawi Supreme Court regarding her application to adopt Mercy James. We remain hopeful that this adoption will be granted."

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