Madonna is in the southern African country of Malawi, where she is launching a series of humanitarian projects to benefit orphans – but despite a statement by a government official, she has not adopted a baby there, her rep says.
“I can confirm Madonna is in Malawi on a private visit,” the singer’s publicist, Liz Rosenberg, tells PEOPLE. “She is building an orphanage and child care center and is involved in other initiatives geared toward helping children orphaned by AIDS through the Raising Malawi organization. She has not adopted a baby, despite reports that she has.”
Malawi government spokesperson Adrina Michiela told reporters on Wednesday that Madonna had chosen a 1-year-old orphan boy to adopt.
However Penston Kilembe, the director for child development in Malawi, told PEOPLE that adoption is a lengthy process, and that Madonna and her husband, Guy Ritchie, haven’t made their intentions clear.
“An adoption is a private issue. It’s for them to decide. It’s a legal issue,” said Kilembe. “Once they identify a child, they file a petition with the courts through their attorney. The courts will scrutinize the application. It can go on for so many months.”
Madonna and Ritchie in July denied earlier rumors that they would adopt from Malawi. Their family includes Madonna’s daughter Lourdes, 9, and their son Rocco, 5.
In August, Madonna announced her plans to raise at least $3 million for her Malawi projects. “For the last few years – now that I have children and now that I have what I consider to be a better perspective on life – I have felt responsible for the children of the world,” she told Time. “I’ve been doing bits and bobs about it, and I suppose I was looking for a big, big project I could sink my teeth into.”
The singer is partnering with developing-world economic guru Jeffrey Sachs in setting up programs in Malawi and has consulted with Bill Clinton about proposals to bring low-cost medicines there. She is also underwriting a documentary about the country’s children.