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Madonna adoption: Paternity dispute erupts

Madonna adoption: Paternity dispute erupts

As Malawi's highest court prepares to decide on Madonna's bid to adopt a second child from this southern African country, a dispute has erupted over whether a man trying to stop the proceedings is the three-year-old girl's father.
The Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal was to consider the case Monday. Its decision may not be announced for several days and Madonna was not expected at Monday's closed-door hearing in Blantyre, the commercial capital.
A lower court ruled last month that Madonna could not adopt Chifundo "Mercy" James because the pop star did not meet requirements that prospective parents be screened for at least some time in Malawi. The rules were bent when Madonna adopted a son, David, from Malawi last year.
Sunday, 24-year-old James Kambewa told The Associated Press he was Chifundo's father and has sought help from the Malawi Law Society to stop the adoption of the girl, who has been in an orphanage since shortly after birth.
Kambewa, a security guard, acknowledged he has never seen the child he is now claiming, but said he was making efforts to claim custody.
"I may be poor but I think I have what it takes to raise a daughter," he said. "I will fight the adoption."
The brother of the girl's mother, who died shortly after giving birth, told the AP the family does not know Kambewa.
"How can he claim he is the father when he hasn't been around all this time?" said Peter Baneti, who had agreed to the adoption on behalf of the family. "We believe he is just an opportunist."
Madonna spokeswoman Liz Rosenberg said in a weekend e-mail message she doesn't know if Kambewa is the father.
"All I know is that Mercy has been in an orphanage since the day she was born," Rosenberg said.
Kambewa, in an interview to be aired Monday on CBS' "The Early Show", said he has only seen the girl "in newspapers and TV _ not face to face." But he told CBS the girl "is a Malawian _ so (I) need her to grow as a Malawian as well with our culture."
On the show, Kambewa wore a necklace bearing the girl's name.
Madonna found the girl at Kondanani Children's Village in the southern town of Bvumbwe, just south of Blantyre, when she first visited Malawi in 2006, the same year she found David at Home of Hope Orphanage in the central border district of Mchinji.
According to court documents, the girl's mother was just 14 when she gave birth, and died a few weeks later. Baneti said with no one to breast-feed the baby, the family decided to place her in an orphanage.
The singer's Malawian lawyer, Alan Chinula, said he was "hopeful" the appeal would succeed. He argues the lower court judge was relying on outdated law. Chinula represented Madonna when she adopted David.
Madonna has founded a charity, Raising Malawi, that helps feed, educate and provide medical care for some of Malawi's more than 1 million orphans, half of whom have lost parents to AIDS.


Updated : 2021-05-07 04:04 GMT+08:00