THE family of Mercy James, the four-year-old Malawian girl who pop star Madonna wants to adopt, say they did not want her to go.
Her uncles, who live in a remote rural area and are her closest relatives, said they had no idea who Madonna was.
The singer has an appointment with a judge in Malawi
today in the hope that the adoption papers will be signed.
But the uncles said they would agree only if Mercy was returned to them once she had completed her education and had a career.
Madonna was expected to arrive in Malawi yesterday.
The uncles have been persuaded over two years since Madonna first fell in love with the girl at the Kondanani children's village that giving Mercy up for adoption would be in her best interests.
But the child's family said they had been given no clear idea of what the future would hold for Mercy, whose mother died at 18, five days after giving birth to her, and whose father cannot be traced.
Mercy's uncles, Peter Baneti and John Ngalande, cannot read or write but will attend the court hearing in Lilongwe, Malawi's capital, which is a five-hour trip from their home.
Mr Baneti, a fisherman, said: "We never wanted to let Mercy go. She is part of our extended family and our culture.
"My mother, my brother and I all said no three times to the orphanage, which was pressing us on Madonna's behalf.
"Now we have been persuaded that Mercy can have a better, healthier life somewhere else in the world with this rich white woman."
Mercy would be the second child Madonna, 50, has adopted from Malawi.
But Save the Children has urged her to reconsider.
Spokesman Dominic Nutt said: "It is vital, we say, that children should be cared for in their own environment by their own community, ideally by their own family.
"The thing to do is to support the community, the local agencies and the charities who can look after the child."