First Angelina Jolie, and now the Material Mom?
Madonna was on the fast track to be a mother of three on Wednesday (October 4), when reports first surfaced from Africa that the singer had added a new child to her family from the southeastern African nation of Malawi. The singer was in the country to inspect a multimillion-dollar project she's funded to support AIDS orphans when government officials jumped the gun and incorrectly told reporters Madonna had another agenda — to adopt a child.
After she arrived early Wednesday in the capital city of Lilongwe, government officials told reporters Madonna chose the boy she adopted from a group of 12 children culled from four orphanages in the city. Andrina Mchiela — a top official in Malawi's Ministry for Gender and Child Welfare — told reporters Madonna had originally wanted to adopt a girl but changed her mind two weeks ago and asked to choose from a group of boys instead.
Director of Social Welfare Benston Kilimbe told reporters Madonna was expected to file the adoption papers on Thursday and would be required to stay with the child for 18 months before the papers would be finalized. Since Madonna was unable to stay in Malawi for that period, the government waived its ban on nonresident adoptions for the singer, and the child will be in the care of the Network of Organizations for Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children.
However, Madonna's rep said the reports — from Reuters, The Associated Press and elsewhere — were erroneous. "Despite reports stating otherwise, she has not adopted a baby boy," the singer's longtime spokesperson, Liz Rosenberg, said Wednesday. "There is no paperwork being finalized. She is visiting orphanages and totally involved in the building of a new orphanage and other initiatives to help the children of Malawi whose parents have died from the AIDS epidemic. So she is adopting an entire country of children."
Madonna had already expressed a deep commitment to the region, which she first announced in an August story in Time magazine. In the article, she said she was committing $3 million to an initiative called Raising Malawi to help orphans in the country, which has been plagued by AIDS, malaria and drought (see "Madonna Promises Big Bucks To Help Aid Orphans In African Nation").
The orphan-care center, which aims to feed and educate 1,000 children a day, will be based in Mphandula, about 30 miles outside the Malawian capital of Lilongwe. The curriculum will include Kabbalah's Spirituality for Kids program (Michael Berg, founder of Los Angeles' Kabbalah Center, is co-founding Madonna's Raising Malawi initiative).
Many of the orphans who would go there have relatives in the area that would provide them shelter, so Madonna's also partnering with developing-world economic expert Jeffrey Sachs, who previously worked with Bono and Jolie, to improve the health, agriculture and economy of a nearby village. She's also met with Bill Clinton to see if they can bring low-cost medicine to the area.
"Now that I have children and now that I have what I consider to be a better perspective on life, I have felt responsible for the children of the world," Madonna told Time. "I suppose I was looking for a big, big project I could sink my teeth into."
The proceeds from Madonna's next book, "The English Roses: Too Good to Be True," due October 24, will also be donated to the Raising Malawi project. In support of the charity, her publishers will release a limited edition of the book in Chichewa, the official language of Malawi. Madonna will distribute the volumes throughout the country.
Madonna's also planning a documentary about the plight of children in Malawi.
"My intent is to bring attention to the millions of children in Africa who are dying every day and are living without care, without medicine and without hope," Madonna said in a recent statement. "I am asking people to open their hearts and minds to get involved in whatever way they can."
Madonna has two children of her own: 6-year-old son Rocco with husband Guy Ritchie and 9-year-old daughter Lourdes with former boyfriend/trainer Carlos Leon. Lourdes turns 10 on October 14.
[This story was orignally published at 4:32 p.m. ET on 10.04.06]