Madonna returned to London Monday -- three days after a judge rejected her bid to adopt 3-year-old Chifundo "Mercy" James from Malawi.

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She met her ex-husband, Guy Ritchie, at a London airport, where he took their sons -- Rocco, 8, and David Banda, 3 -- so that she could have some space while the court takes action on her appeal, a source tells

Mercy's uncle, Peter Baneti, tells Us that he hopes the courts will reconsider the adoption.

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"I'm just very surprised that this has happened," Baneti says to Us. "And I'm so sad for Mercy. This was her chance for a better life and I think this has been taken away from her now."

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Madonna and Ritchie -- who divorced last year after eight years of marriage -- adopted David Banda from Malawi in 2006. Ritchie, despite their split, said he "fully supported" her decision to apply for adoption and was "saddened" by the outcome.

"Madonna is a fantastic and loving mother who cares deeply about her own children, and children who may need additional help and support," he said in a statement Friday.