Fri, Oct 20, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Father of boy Madonna wants to adopt supports star

WHAT MUST MUST BE DONE?The singer's attempt to adopt David has sparkd a debate about how best to care for the millions of AIDS orphans in places like Malawi

AP , MCHINJI, MALAWI

Madonna talks with children during her trip to Malawi to highlight the plight of AIDS orphans on Oct. 5. The entertainer is in the process of adopting a one-year-old Malawian boy whose mother died a month after childbirth.

PHOTO: AP

The biological father of the 13-month-old boy Madonna wants to make part of her family criticized human rights groups who have challenged how the adoption is being handled and said his child should stay with the star.

Yohane Banda told reporters on Wednesday he had entrusted his son to a Malawian orphanage after his wife died of childbirth complications, saying he was too poor to raise him alone. Now, he says, Madonna has given the boy a chance to have a family.

"Where were these people when David was struggling in the orphanage? These so-called human rights groups should leave my baby alone," he said. "As father I have okayed this, I have no problem. The village has no problem. Who are they to cause trouble? Please let them stop."

The Human Rights Consultative Committee, a coalition of 67 organizations, launched a legal challenge on Tuesday, noting that Malawian regulations require prospective parents to stay with a child in Malawi for 18 to 24 months for assessment before the adoption is formalized. Madonna, though, was allowed to take the boy to England, where she has a home, and Malawian officials have said the family would be monitored there.

Children's advocates in Malawi have stressed they are not opposed to Madonna adopting David, but want to ensure rules meant to protect children aren't ignored.

Madonna and British film director husband Guy Ritchie spent eight days in Malawi and last Thursday signed adoption papers for David Banda. The boy's father countersigned the papers and High Court Justice Andrew Nyirenda issued the celebrity couple an "interim order" allowing them custody, a step toward adoption. The boy was flown to London on Monday.

Penston Kilembe, the director of Child Welfare Services in Malawi's Ministry of Gender, Child Welfare and Community Services, told reporters the laws to which the civil rights groups referred in their challenge are "archaic." He said his government took into account the rights of children and families in allowing Madonna to pursue adoption.

"Madonna and her husband has broken no laws as far as government is concerned. They have followed all the legal steps," he said.

Madonna's attempt to adopt David has sparked a debate about how best to care for the millions of orphans in places like Malawi, a desperately poor country beset by drought and AIDS. Some children's advocates say children are best raised close to home, but AIDS has killed many of those in extended families who might once have cared for children in Africa.

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