May 12, 2008 / 3:58 PM / 10 years ago

Father of Malawian boy backs Madonna adoption bid

LIPUNGA, Malawi (Reuters) - The father of a Malawian child that Madonna wants to adopt said on Monday he supported her case but wanted the U.S. popstar to bring his boy home for visits.

Madonna holds her adopted son, David Banda, at an orphan care centre run by Raising Malawi, a grassroots initiative by Madonna, in Mphendula Village, about 25 miles from the capital Lilongwe April 19, 2007. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Madonna is expected to appear in a Malawian court on Thursday for what is expected to be a final and favorable ruling on whether she can adopt David Banda. She is due to arrive in the impoverished southern African country on Tuesday.

The pop diva began adoption proceedings in 2006 and the two-year-old has been living with her and her film director husband Guy Ritchie in their London home since then.

The adoption has been controversial, with critics accusing the government of skirting laws that ban non-residents from adopting children in Malawi, which has been ravaged by an AIDS epidemic leaving more than one million orphans.

Malawi’s government has recommended that its High Court approve Madonna’s adoption of the child.

“I have no problem with the government’s recommendation to allow Madonna to get the child. This is what I wanted, that Madonna should keep the child,” the boy’s father, Yohane Banda, told Reuters Television in an interview.

One of Malawi’s fiercest critics of Madonna’s adoption bid, the Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC), said on Monday it was no longer interested in pursuing the case, removing another obstacle.

“It will be as a waste of time and resources to continue pursuing the case. Malawi has more pressing issues than Madonna,” HRCC chairman Udule Mwakasungura told Reuters.

Madonna took David when he was 13 months old after his father had placed him in an orphanage following the death of his wife.

Standing in a dusty village of huts, Banda said he hoped to see his son during Madonna’s trip.

“If she comes with the child ... we expect to be told that the child is here and we are allowed to see him,” he said in Lipunga, 160 km (100 miles) from Malawi’s capital.

But even if it was not possible this time, he said he hoped to see his son every few years.

“We had agreed initially that when the child is taken, she should bring him at least once in every three to four years so that we should see how he is developing,” the father said.

If Madonna does get to keep David, the child will grow up in the high-flying world of a leading popstar, worlds away from Lipunga, where Banda’s relatives eat staple food like maize meal from simple bowls and meals are cooked on open fires.

Editing by Stephen Weeks

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