Oprah lauds Madonna for ‘brave’ adoption of Malawian boy

Oprah Winfrey has lauded Madonna’s controversial decision to adopt a 13-month-old boy from Malawi as “brave.”

In an interview on the Oprah Winfrey Show that aired Wednesday, with Madonna speaking by satellite from London, the popular talk show host nodded her head in approval and invited audience applause as Madonna described her decision to adopt.

“Anyone who knows what’s involved in raising a child knows it has to come from the heart,” Winfrey said.

She also told Madonna during the interview: “That’s a brave thing that you did.”

Madonna appeared nervous when describing the media frenzy that has surrounded the adoption, and criticized the media for discouraging other adoptions of children from Africa.

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

Madonna and husband wanted Third World child

The American pop singer said she and her husband Guy Ritchie had been considering adoption for at least two years.

“I wanted to go into a Third World country — I wasn’t sure where — and give a life to a child who might not otherwise have had one,” she said.

She said a social worker who did a home study at their London home had discouraged her from adopting in Malawi, because it has no defined adoption laws.

But she said she had become informed about the African country through her Raising Malawi charity, which gives money to help orphanages and felt she should help a Malawian child.

Madonna said she saw the baby, David, in documentary footage of the orphanages before her trip and was “transfixed” by him.

When she visited Malawi, she tracked him down though she was “prepared” to adopt another child if necessary.

David was suffering from pneumonia when she found him and Madonna asked permission to take him to a clinic for treatment.

She was travelling with a pediatrician who treated children in all the orphanages she visited.

Although his mother and siblings died of AIDS, David tested negative for HIV and for other child killers in Africa, such as TB. He is now on his way back to good health, she said, a statement that drew applause from the audience.

Singer’s children have ’embraced’ David

Madonna spoke warmly of how well-accepted he has been by her other children.

“They just embraced him, and that’s the amazing thing about children,” she said.

“They don’t ask questions. 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.”

She said David, who had lived in the orphanage since he was two weeks old, had not been visited by family since he arrived.

“From my perspective, there was no one else looking after David’s welfare,” she said.

The Malawian government helped her track down the father, Yohane Banda, who came to court to sign adoption papers.

Madonna said she was startled by reports emerging last week in which Banda says he didn’t know he was signing away his son “for good.”

When she met Banda, he thanked her for giving his son a new life.

David’s father has been manipulated by media: Madonna

“I sat in that room, I looked into that man’s eyes,” she said. “I believe the press is manipulating this information out of him.”

Madonna blamed the media for whipping up controversy around the adoption, saying David’s father, a simple farmer, has been terrorized by international media.

She spoke of the appalling conditions in Malawian orphanages and said she was worried the media would discourage other adoptions.

A human rights group will launch an appeal of the interim adoption order in a Malawi court on Friday.

The group has accused her of using her wealth and celebrity to circumvent the legal adoption process.

“I assure you it doesn’t matter who you are or how much money you have. Nothing goes fast in Africa,” Madonna told Winfrey.

In an interview with Time posted online Tuesday, Banda is now saying he will not contest the adoption.

“I don’t want my child who is already gone to come back. I will be killing his future if I accept that,” the 32-year-old farmer from the village of Lipunga, close to the Zambian border, said.

Madonna said a social worker will monitor David’s placement and the family will gain full custody of David after 18 months.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday October 26, 2006.
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