People Staff
October 17, 2006 03:20 PM

The same day the Malawian boy she is hoping to welcome into her family arrived in London, Madonna issued a statement defending her adoption.

In a message titled “An Open Letter from Madonna,” the singer says: “My husband and I began the adoption process many months prior to our trip to Malawi. I did not wish to disclose my intentions to the world prior to the adoption happening as this is a private family matter.

“After learning that there were over one million orphans in Malawi, it was my wish to open up our home and help one child escape an extreme life of hardship, poverty and in many cases death, as well as expand our family.”

Some human rights groups are protesting the adoption, charging that Malawi’s laws governing international adoption have been bent for the singer.

“We have gone about the adoption procedure according to the law like anyone else who adopts a child,” Madonna says in her statement. “Reports to the contrary are totally inaccurate. The procedure includes an l8-month evaluation period, after which time we hope to make this adoption permanent. This was not a decision or commitment that my family or I take lightly.”

The singer and husband Guy Ritchie traveled to the southern African nation, where Madonna is funding humanitarian efforts through her Raising Malawi organization, early this month and were granted temporary custody of 1-year-old David Banda. David’s mother died a week after his birth, and his father, Yohane, told PEOPLE, “I have no problem (with the adoption). What I want is good life, a good education for my child.”

Madonna concludes her statement saying she is “overwhelmed and inspired” by her trip to Malawi and hopes it can bring attention to the plight of African children. “My heartfelt thanks for all the good wishes I have received,” she says, “and I hope the press will allow my family some room for us to experience the joy we feel to have David home.”

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