Exclusive Interview with Mother of Re-Invention
Madonna talks frankly about her adoption struggle, her newfound love for film-making – and being a crybaby.
Madonna is no stranger to criticism. She faced a storm of controversy over the adoption in 2006 of Malawian boy David Banda, now two. But, showing no sign of mellowing as she nears her landmark 50th birthday, the megastar has again hit back at her critics as she asserts her absolute certainty about the way she has chosen to expand her family.
In this exclusive interview, the music legend goes into detail for the first time about how intensely stressful she found the adoption process. “In the end, I rationalized that when a woman has a child and goes through natural childbirth, she suffers an enormous amount,” she said. “So I sort of went through my own kind of birthing pains dealing with the press accusing me of kidnapping, or whatever you want to call it.”
And she insists David’s father Yohane gave her and her husband Guy Ritchie his blessing to adopt the infant — and also reveals that her 11-year old daughter Lourdes has started doing volunteer work in the same orphanage where she first set eyes on David.
This interview comes as she celebrates getting final adoption approval from a court in Malawi — though David’s dad may still yet challenge aspects of the adoption ruling in order to win visitation rights…
Madonna, you were criticized over David’s adoption and even suffered claims that his father was unaware of what was happening to his son. What’s the truth?
“David was very ill with pneumonia when I first saw him. He had survived malaria and tuberculosis, and no one from his extended family had visited him since the time he arrived at the orphanage. His father’s whereabouts were unknown and he had never been to see David.”
“I later sat in a room with David’s father, who had been traced by officials, and looked into his eyes while he said he was very grateful that I was going to give his son a life. and that had he kept his son with him in the village he would have buried him. I didn’t really need any more confirmation that I was doing the right thing and I had his blessing.”
Did Lourdes and Rocco, now seven, welcome David into the family?
“Absolutely. They are completely in love with him. That’s the amazing thing about children: they don’t ask questions. They’ve never once said, ‘What is he doing here?’ or mentioned the difference in his skin color, or wondered why he is in our lives.”
Will you make sure David stays in touch with his African roots?
“Yes. he will always come with me on my humanitarian trips to the country, and I will always take him to the orphanage and the village that he came from. I also hope that he goes back when he has finished his education. He was named David for a reason – I think he is going to be a king.”
Do any of the rest of your family come with you on your trips?
“My husband comes with me sometimes and my daughter, Lourdes, because she is old enough to do volunteer work in the orphanage. I know I can trust her to put on her mosquito spray. But the next time I go I am also going to bring Rocco, because I think he is ready for it.”
Would Lourdes like to follow in your footsteps as a pop star?
“She says she wants to be an actress. I don’t mind.”
She’s at an age where she’s very fashion conscious and has great style. Does she get that from you?
“I’ll just say that my daughter has a very strong opinion about clothes. She has got incredible taste, actually.”
Are you concerned that she might take a leaf out of your book and become a bit of a rebel?
“I look back at my twenties and I really was not getting up to much. What do people think I did in my twenties: I don’t think I was as naughty as I could have been. And these days you have cell phones and YouTube that are added distractions. She is very self-possessed and she has a strong personality, so that will be a challenge for me, but it will also serve her well when she gets older.”