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LILONGWE, Malawi (AP) -- Malawi's child welfare minister is backing Madonna's bid to adopt a second child from the impoverished southern African country.

That high-level endorsement came Thursday, a day before a judge is to rule on Madonna's request to adopt Chifundo "Mercy" James.

Women and Child Welfare Development Minister Anna Kachikho told the AP Malawi has nearly 2 million orphans. If people like Madonna adopt even one, Kachikho said, "it's one mouth less" for Malawi. Kachikho's ministry processes all adoptions in Malawi.

Kachikho added Madonna is helping more than 25,000 Malawian children.

A coalition of non-governmental organizations in Malawi says Madonna's plans have been fast-tracked because of her money and status. The minister says such critics are ungrateful.