Madonna Charges Media With 'Manipulating' Adoption Story, Child's Father

Madonna said the 13-month-old boy she plans to adopt from the African country of Malawi is healthy and thriving in her London home, in an interview that aired Wednesday on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

The child, David Banda, was taken to London last week after Malawi's High Court granted Madonna and her husband, director Guy Ritchie, an interim adoption order.

Madonna said David was healthy, despite having overcome malaria and tuberculosis. The interview was taped Tuesday via satellite from London.

"David is amazing," the 48-year-old pop star said. "What really surprises me is how great my children are with him and how he's transitioned so easily from living in Africa in an orphanage to living in our house."

David's father, Yohane Banda, has said he didn't understand the adoption meant he would give up custody of his son "for good." But in an interview posted Tuesday on Time magazine's Web site, Banda said he will not contest the adoption.

"I don't want my child, who is already gone, to come back," he said. "I will be killing his future if I accept that."

Banda has said he is too poor to raise David.

Madonna said she met Banda, who thanked her for giving his son a new life. "I sat in that room, I looked into that man's eyes," she said.

The 30-minute interview with Winfrey was the first time Madonna had spoken on TV about the adoption, which has been challenged by human rights groups that allege the singer used her fame and fortune to flout Malawai's adoption laws.

"If only my wealth and my position could have made things go faster," she said. "I assure you it doesn't matter who you are and how much money you have, nothing goes fast in Africa."

Typically, prospective parents are required to stay in the country during the 18-month evaluation period, but the judge who granted the interim custody order Oct. 12 said the issue of residence is not specified in the laws. A social worker in London will check on David for the next 18 months.

Madonna said she initially was urged to consider adopting a child in Ethiopia or Kenya because of Malawi's vague adoption laws.

"I did have my heart set on David, but I was also told there was a possibility I wouldn't be able to adopt him," she said. "I was told to look around at all the orphanages."

Madonna said she was worried the firestorm of publicity that surrounded the adoption may dissuade other parents from adopting children from Africa.

"I'm disappointed because more than anything it discourages other people from doing the same thing," she said. "I feel the media is doing a great disservice to all the orphans of Africa, period, not just the orphans of Malawi."

Winfrey, whose talk show is based in Chicago, commended Madonna for the adoption.

"I have to say, Madonna, that's a brave thing that you did," Winfrey said. "This audience, I know, applauds you for it."

In a phone interview from Miami, Ricky Martin, who has defended the rights of children through his foundation and as an ambassador for UNICEF, told The Associated Press: "I know Madonna as a mother, and she's exemplary. The love she gives her kids is a dream, and I know that her heart is big enough to adopt not just one child but to adopt 20."

When asked if he would like to adopt someday, the 34-year-old pop star said: "Totally. I don't know when, but right now I am sponsoring three children in India and we have a very beautiful connection."

David Banda has spent most of his life in an orphanage. His mother died shortly after childbirth.

Madonna and Ritchie traveled to the southeast African country of Malawi on Oct. 4. They spent eight days visiting orphanages the singer is funding through her charity.

Madonna has two children -- daughter Lourdes, 9, and son Rocco, 6.

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