UPDATE: Madonna was MIA when the Malawi Supreme Court began hearing closed-door arguments Monday from her lawyer appealing the adoption decision. It could be several days before there's a ruling.
Oh father, indeed.
"I want to take care of her and I'm capable to take care of my baby," he says. "Mercy, she is a Malawian—so [I] need her to grow as a Malawian, as well with our culture."
In the interview, Kambewa is wearing a necklace he made bearing his daughter’s name but says has never held or even met her in person. The little girl's birth mother died shortly after childbirth.
Lucy Chekechiwa, Mercy’s maternal grandmother, says she, too, was initially opposed to the adoption but eventually gave in.
“I did not want my granddaughter to be adopted,” she says, “but because they have been persistent enough, I have been forced to let my granddaughter go."
On Monday, Team Madonna will make her appeal before Malawi's Chief Justice Lovemore Munlo. In April, a judge rejected the 50-year-old superstar's adoption request because she doesn't meet the minimum 18-month residency requirement.
(Originally published May 2, 2009, at 1:45 p.m. PT)