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Father Frets Madonna May Renege Adoption

The father of the 13-month-old Malawian boy Madonna is trying to adopt said he is afraid criticism of her plans would persuade the pop star to drop her efforts.

"I am afraid Madonna may get angry and frustrated and decide to dump my son because of these people," said Yohane Banda, referring to criticism from human rights activists in Malawi that officials had bent the law to speed David Banda's adoption.

"These so-called human rights activists are harassing me every day, threatening me that I am not aware of what I am doing," Banda said Thursday. "I'm afraid David may be sent back and the orphanage may not even accept him back. So where will he end up? Here? He will certainly die."

The Human Rights Consultative Committee, a group of human rights groups in Malawi, has asked Judge Andrew Nyirenda to review the adoption process to make sure all the laws have been followed. A hearing is scheduled Friday.

Banda said activists tried to visit him Wednesday.

"I hid from them. I didn't want to see them. They want me to support their court case, a thing I cannot do for I know what I agreed with Madonna and her husband," said Banda.

Banda was reacting to Madonna's appearance on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" on Wednesday, in which the 48-year-old singer said she had done nothing wrong, had not used her celebrity to influence Malawian officials and wanted to give David, who had been in an orphanage, a better life.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Sunday, Banda said authorities had not made it clear to him that he was giving up his son "for good" when he signed adoption papers earlier this month. But Thursday, he shifted the blame to human rights groups.
"I was telling these rights groups that I wasn't selling my son. I said I wouldn't ... sell my son for anything but I had agreed with Madonna before a judge so my comments were taken out of context and I hope Madonna is not angry," he said.

Banda said he was not angry with journalists, but added he was spending more time with reporters than tending "to my onions and tomatoes."

Justin Dzonzi, chairman of the human rights group, said the coalition of 67 groups would go ahead with its court petition Friday to protect the rights of any child up for adoption in Malawi.

"It's not like we are blocking the adoption but we want laws followed to the letter," he said.

Dzonzi said under current laws, David, who was taken to Madonna's home in London last week, was not entitled to inherit any of the wealth of the singer and her husband, director Guy Ritchie. He said the child also could suffer psychologically if there is a divorce by the celebrity couple.

"We want these issues clarified," Dzonzi said.

But Banda, a subsistence farmer, argued his son had no wealth to inherit in Malawi.

"That won't change anything for David," said Banda. "Please, let them leave my son alone."

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