MCHINJI, Malawi – The biological father of baby David — the 13-month-old boy adopted by Madonna — on Wednesday criticized human rights groups seeking to reverse the move and said his child should stay with the star.
The Human Rights Consultative Committee, a coalition of 67 organizations, launched a legal challenge Tuesday to the Malawian government decision to relax the usual ban on adoptions by foreigners and relax the requirement that prospective parents have to stay with the child for 18-24 months for assessment before the adoption is formalized.
"Where were these people when David was struggling in the orphanage? These so-called human rights groups should leave my baby alone," Yohane Banda 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."
Madonna and British film director husband Guy Ritchie Thursday spent eight days in Malawi and last Thursday signed adoption papers for Baby David. Banda, David's father, counter-signed the papers and High Court judge, Justice Andrew Nyirenda, issued the celebrity couple an 'interim order' okaying the couple to take the baby away "with conditions."
The boy was flown to London on Monday.
A government official said the laws being used by the civil rights groups to mount the challenge were "archaic."
Penston Kilembe, the Director of Child Welfare Services in the Ministry of Gender, child Welfare and Community Services, told The AP the laws the civil rights groups are using are "archaic."
"These laws date back to the 1940s; things have changed now," he said. "Madonna and her husband has broken no laws as far as government is concerned. They have followed all the legal steps."
Kilembe said when approving the adoption of Baby David government looked at rights of the baby and the family and "found nothing amiss."
"These groups should fight for rights of children, not block the same like they are trying to do now," he said.
The civil rights groups chairman, Justice Dzonzi, said they were not against the adoption, but wanted the laws followed. "If Madonna really wants the child, she has to apply for residency permit in Malawi," he said.
The star found David at the Home of Hope Orphanage, which looks after more than 500 children who have lost one or both parents.
Banda's wife, Marita, 28, died a week after giving birth to David. The couple, who had been married for over 10 years, had two other sons who died in infancy from malaria.
"I was alone with a baby; I had no money, I couldn't buy him milk, that's why I surrendered him to the orphanage," said Banda.
"Orphanage life is no good. We leave kids there because we can't look after them properly ourselves. Now my son has been taken by a kindhearted woman, these people want to bring him back to the orphanage," lamented Banda, standing in his small garden of onions and tomatoes.
The peasant farmer said Madonna and Ritchie promised him nothing apart from "love and care for my David."
Banda's village is typical of many in Malawi — no electricity or running water, and basic mud huts. Few inhabitants had even heard of Madonna before the controversy erupted.
"Whoever she is she is a kindhearted woman," said Village Headman Lipunga, the chief of the village. "We all love her here and we hope she will visit us soon."