Madonna slams media
In an appearance on the US talk show Oprah, Madonna said she was surprised by the controversy stirred up by her attempt to adopt 13-month-old David Banda and saddened by the media’s coverage of the saga.
She refuted comments from the father, Yohane Banda, who has claimed that he didn’t realise he was giving up his son for good and would not have allowed the adoption if he had.
“I believe that the press is manipulating this information out of him,” she said.
“I do not believe that is true. I sat in that room, I looked into that man’s eyes.
“They have asked him things, repeatedly, and they have put words in his mouth. They have spun a story that is completely false,” she added.
The queen of pop said she was disappointed by the media’s handling of the affair and warned that it could scare people away from adopting needy children in Malawi and other poverty-stricken African countries.
“I understand that gossip and telling negative stories sells newspapers. But I think for me, I’m disappointed, because it discourages other people from doing the same thing.
“I feel like the media is doing a great disservice to all the orphans of Africa, period, not just Malawi, by turning it into such a negative thing,” she said.
Madonna was given interim custody of the toddler earlier this month after barely two weeks in the impoverished African country, and the baby flew to Britain several days later amid a media storm.
“I didn’t realise that the adoption was causing any controversy until I came back,” she said.
“There were a million film crews in the airport and press camped outside my door,” she added.
The 48-year-old US singer, who had the boy flown out of Malawi last week to join her in London, has been largely criticised for her actions in the southern African state and overseas over the adoption process.
A coalition of Malawian rights groups is challenging the adoption, saying adoptive parents from overseas are required by law to live in the country for 18 months.
They have also raised questions over Madonna’s credentials as a parent, recalling some steamy pop videos and the provocative public image that helped make her a household name.
But Madonna called on her critics to go to Africa to see first hand the challenges the continent faces, and called for a shake-up in Malawi’s adoption laws.
“I beg all of those people to go to Africa and see what I saw and walk through those villages, to see eight-year-olds in charge of households, to see mothers dying… to see open sewage everywhere, to see what I saw.
“I think if everybody went there, they’d want to bring one of those children home with them and give them a better life.”
She said she found herself drawn to David when she was reviewing footage and photographs for a documentary she is financing about orphans in Malawi.
“An eight-year-old girl who is living with HIV was holding this child. I became transfixed by him. But I didn’t yet know I was going to adopt him. I was just drawn to him,” she said.
“When I met him, he was extremely ill,” Madonna says. “I was in a state of panic, because I didn’t want to leave him in the orphanage, because I knew they didn’t have medication to take care of him.”
She added that her children, six year old Rocco, whom she had with husband and British filmmaker Guy Richie, and 10-year-old Lourdes, from a previous relationship, had both taken to their prospective brother.
“They just embraced him,” she said. “They’ve never once said, ‘What is he doing here’, or mentioned the difference in his skin colour, or questioned his presence in our life. That is an amazing lesson that children do teach us.”