Family of Madonna's Boy Says They Visited Him

The singer has said no one from David Banda's family visited him at the orphanage

Madonna told the BBC Wednesday she would not have tried to adopt 1-year-old Malawian boy David Banda if David had gotten regular visits from family. But the BBC says it has learned David was frequently seen by his grandmother and other relatives.

In an interview that aired on BBC2’s Newsnight on Nov. 1, Madonna told anchor Kirsty Wark, “If someone had said to me, ‘Oh, his dad comes every week or his granny visits on a regular basis and he is well-looked after,’ I wouldn’t have given (the adoption) another thought, but there are many conditions that actually made me worried for his life.”

She continued, “One was the fact that, according to the reverend who ran the orphanage that David came from, his father never visited him.”

Madonna also told Oprah Winfrey in October: “No one from (David’s) extended family had visited him since the time he arrived” in the orphanage as an infant.

On Thursday, London-based BBC reporter Liz MacKean spoke by telephone to Asitineti Mwale, David’s paternal grandmother, who said through an interpreter, “I used to visit (David) almost every month.”

Of Madonna’s claim that nobody from David’s family had visited him in the orphanage, Mwale replied, “That’s a lie. We used to visit David, and every time he felt sick we used to get a message from the orphanage and one of (my) nephews or myself used to go there to see David.”

Quizzed on how many family members, besides Mwale and David’s father Yohane Banda, visited the child, Mwale said, “Several, including the aunt who is the sister of David’s father and other uncles, used to go and visit David at the orphanage.”

The BBC also spoke to the administrator of the Home of Hope orphanage, who confirmed that the family had indeed visited David before Madonna came to Malawi. “So on the face of it, this conflicts with Madonna’s claim that he was, if not orphaned, than abandoned,” reporter MacKean said. “But the family did say today they are happy with the adoption. As far as they are concerned, (David) has gone on to a better life.”

Indeed, Mwale told PEOPLE in October, “I am very glad for (David) because, having been brought up as an orphan myself, I know how hard it is to live without proper parenthood. We pray for the one that has adopted David so that God should bless her for her to have more.”

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