Madonna is shown in this undated handout photo with her children, from left, daughter Lourdes and sons David Banda and Rocco. ((Shavawn Rissman/Associated Press))

Undaunted by the controversy of just a few years ago, Madonna has again started the process of adopting a child from Malawi, according to officials in the impoverished southeast African nation.

Malawi officials and a U.S. counterpart, all speaking on condition of anonymity, have said that the pop star has filed adoption papers, though the singer's spokeswoman would not comment on the matter. According to reports, Madonna is set to adopt a little Malawian girl.

In an interview with Malawi paper The Nation last week, Madonna said she was considering another adoption, but only if she had "the support of the Malawian people and government."

Madonna travelled to Malawi in October 2006 to see the work of her charity, Raising Malawi, and to film the documentary I Am Because We Are, about how poverty and AIDS has devastated the country. More than 14 per cent of the nation's population of about 12 million is afflicted with HIV.

Straight away, however, rumours began swirling that the singer also intended to adopt a toddler she met at an orphanage during her visit. During the trip, she and then-husband Guy Ritchie took custody of David Banda, whose mother had died in childbirth and whose father was unable to care for him.

Child advocacy and human rights groups criticized the speedy adoption, charging that government officials relaxed requirements and generally fast-tracked the process to give the internationally known celebrity couple preferential treatment. However, after visits to their London home by Malawian officials, the couple's adoption was formally approved in 2008.

Madonna and Ritchie were divorced in December, again raising questions about Malawi's adoption rules. Though the country does not traditionally approve adoptions by single or divorced parents, an official said each case is considered on merit.

Aside from David Banda, Madonna is also mother to Rocco, her eight-year-old son with Ritchie, and 12-year-old Lourdes, her daughter from a previous relationship.

With files from the Associated Press