Interview: The Father of Madonna's Baby Will Not Contest the Adoption

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The biological father of 13-month-old Malawian boy David says he did not know that American pop star Madonna would be taking his son "for good" when she came to adopt him earlier this month (a claim government officials dispute). But Yohane Banda tells TIME that his son is now better off and he would be "killing" David's future to insist his son returns.

Banda, 32, lives in a small mud hut in the village of Lipunga, which sits close to the Zambian border about 112 miles west of Malawi's capital, Lilongwe. Poor and uneducated, Banda tends a patch of maize and a vegetable garden and every now and again gets a job reworking scrap metal. When his wife Malita Lungu, a Zambian who gave birth to David across the border in her native country, died just a week after David was born, Banda struggled to raise his son with the help of relatives and friends. But a month later he sent David to the orphanage where Madonna would later find him. TIME reporter Peter Kumwenda interviewed Banda in his modest home this week

TIME: Your son David is now in the U.K. where he has joined his new parents. After all that has happened how do you feel?

Banda: I am OK.

It is been suggested by some sections of the media that you are unhappy about how things went, specifically that you did not understand that adoption means your son now becomes somebody's else's child, isn't that right?

It is true that I was not told properly that my child will be taken for good. You know, I am not educated so the way I was told, I thought it would be the same as keeping him at the orphanage, the only difference being that he will be kept by a rich, respectable lady and in America, which is far away. I never understood it as my child being taken for good.

Have you now been told adoption means David is now Madonna's child — not yours anymore?

Yes, some people are saying that.

But you have not been told officially by the orphanage or by government officials?

No, I have not been told.

So do you believe that your child has been taken away from you for good, to become Madonna's child, or do you still think he will come back to you after some time?

What I know and I what I was told is that good Samaritans want to help raise my son by sending him to school and looking after him. When he finishes school he will come back home to stay with us.

If you find that it is true, your son is now another family's child and you may never see him again, what will you do?

Nothing. What can I do?

You won't try and demand your child back?

No, no, no.

Some human rights activists have taken up the case in court. They say because you did not understand what adoption means your son's adoption must be nullified. Do you agree with them?



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

So you won't go to court to strengthen their case?


How about other members of your family — uncles, brother and so on. Will any them be going to court together with human rights groups to try and stop the adoption?

No, no one will do that.

Do you think your wife would have tried to stop the adoption from going ahead?

No, I don't think so.

Tell me what exactly she would have done about all this?

Well, I don't know. I think she would have wanted our child to go so he can be supported with education so that in future our child can support us.

Finally, I want to ask you about Madonna. You saw Madonna, what do you think about her?

Well, I am just grateful to her for helping my child.