Mercy James, the four-year-old girl from Malawi who Madonna is hoping to adopt, has gone into hiding on the singer's orders after the girl's father came forward, saying he wanted them to be reunited.
Staff at the Kondanani children's home, where Mercy has been living, said Madonna had told them to shield the child from James Kambewa, who is believed to have spent the past week attempting a reunion with his daughter.
Mercy is believed to have gone to a secret location with a carer from the orphanage.
Madonna, who is said to be distraught at having to leave Mercy in the country after her adoption application failed, has instructed lawyers to 'do everything possible' to appeal against the judgment. The case will be heard after Malawi's Easter break, which ends on April 20.
Meanwhile, the appearance of 24-year-old Kambewa has outraged Mercy's family.
Her grandfather Saxon Maunde, a poor farmer who travelled from his remote rural
home to Kondanani on Friday, recalled how Kambewa had fled the town of Thwonde after his daughter Mwandida, a 15-year-old schoolgirl, became pregnant.
Mr Maunde said: 'We cannot believe this boy is coming forward like this. We are very suspicious of his reasons, especially as he has caused our family so much heartbreak in the past.
'When my precious daughter became pregnant we were so disappointed with her. She had been doing well at school and we had to take her away from her studies.
'There was disgrace for us in the pregnancy, but this boy could have made things acceptable by marrying her and taking responsibility.
'Instead, he denied he was the father. He was a coward who ran away.
'When our daughter died after Mercy was born, this wretched boy sent no message of condolence. He is the last person we want to see now'
Kambewa is now living in Blantyre, the country's second-largest town, where he works as a night watchman. His paternity claim has been attacked by representatives for Madonna.
Alan Chinula, the singer's lawyer in Malawi, said: 'We are more determined than ever to persuade the courts to let Madonna adopt Mercy. We have heard that a young man is claiming he is her father and wants the child, but he has not contacted us and we will not entertain his claims.
'As the father of an illegitimate child he has few rights and in our culture he is considered an outcast in society.'
Simon Chisale, Mercy's legal guardian and director of Malawi's Ministry of Women and Child Development, said: 'I have spoken to the girl's immediate family and they want nothing to do with this James Kambewa.
'He has not approached me and I understand he has in the past rejected this child.'--