Madonna can start planning a new life for Mercy James, the little girl she applied to adopt from Malawi. The country's highest court has approved the millionaire singer's wish to welcome the four-year-old into her family.
The decision is the culmination of an, at times heart-rending, two-year process for the queen of pop, who was forced to appeal against an April decision that she could not adopt the child. Then, Judge Esmie Chondo ruled out the adoption saying prospective parents had to be resident in Malawi for 18 months.
But at Friday's appeal ruling Chief Justice Lovemore Munlo, said Mercy – whose name is translated as Chifundo in the Malawian language - would be better off with Madonna.
"In our view, Chifundo James is better taken care of by being adopted by foreign parents who will give her love and affection," he said.
Addressing the issue of residency, the court had decided that the stipulation was based on an outdated interpretation of the law.
"In this global village, a man can have more than one place at which he resides. The matter of residence should be determined at the time of application of the adoption," he said.
"In this case, Madonna was in Malawi not by chance but by intention" continued the judge, who said her commitment to the poor of the country was such that she could not be described as "a sojourner".
Mercy will be a new sibling for David, the youngster the singer and her second ex-husband Guy Ritchie adopted from the African country in 2006, eight-year-old Rocco - her natural child with the British filmmaker - and Lourdes, 12, from a previous relationship.
Her lawyer Alan Chinula said the 50-year-old was "excited" on hearing the news at her New York home in the early hours of the morning. He added that all that remained was to secure Mercy a passport and organise travel plans for Madonna's new daughter.