LILONGWE, Malawi – Madonna said Tuesday that the father of the African boy she is trying to adopt refused her offer of financial assistance to help him keep his son.
Some critics have said it would have been better for 13-month-old David Banda if Madonna had helped his impoverished father to care for him at home in Malawi rather than bringing the boy to live with her and her family in London.
"I said I would be happy to ... bring him back to your village and help you financially raise him. And he said no," Madonna told Meredith Vieira in an interview set to air Wednesday on "Dateline NBC" and Wednesday and Thursday on "Today."
"I think he truly felt in his heart of hearts -- and who knows if he was telling me the truth -- that he would have a better life with me. So when he said no, that was, you know, that was my sign that ... it was my responsibility to look after him."
The boy's father, Yohane Banda, said last week that he feared criticism of the adoption would prompt the singer to drop her efforts, and he urged her not to do so.
Banda left his son with the Malawian orphanage where Madonna found him after his wife died shortly after childbirth -- a relatively frequent occurrence in the impoverished African nation which suffers from high rates of maternal and infant mortality. He lost two other children in infancy to malaria.
The singer's efforts to adopt David Banda have set off a media storm, one that Madonna told "Today" reflects "our inability to focus on the real problems and our desire to have distractions and to be consumed with people's personal lives and gossip."
She also said that the public's issue with the adoption was motivated by racism.
"That's underneath a lot of people's prejudice about me adopting David," she told "Today." "I think a lot of people have a problem with the fact that I've adopted an African child, a child who has a different color skin than I do."
Madonna said she adopted the boy because she "wants to be part of the solution."
Meanwhile, Banda praised the pop star for opening "the way for a better life" for his son and questioned legal attempts to delay the adoption, a German publication reported Wednesday.
"Madonna was like a bulldozer who has cleared the way for a better life for my son," Banda was quoted as saying in an interview in Bunte magazine, set to appear on newsstands Thursday.
He rejected efforts by a human rights group to hold up the adoption to make sure no Malawian laws were broken.
"Madonna explained to me that she wanted to adopt my son," Banda was quoted as saying in the interview, which took place Friday. "She assured me she would take good care of David and raise him in peace."
"I told her that the most important thing for me was that she offered my son a good future. And then I agreed to the adoption."
The people in his village considered it an honor that Madonna had adopted one of their children, and Banda said he slaughtered a goat to celebrate with the whole family.
Banda was asked if it would have been better for the 48-year-old pop star to give him money so he could raise his son.
"She knows what to do with a lot of money, and I don't," he said. "I could not have started anything with the money, and in the end it would have only spoiled things for me and David."