Madonna tells of 'painful' adoption struggle

Madonna today compared the “painful” struggle of her adoption plans controversy with the suffering women go through in natural childbirth.

The singer, who said her son David Banda’s natural mother died from Aids, was speaking at a press conference about her documentary 'I Am Because We Are', in which David features.

At a press conference in Cannes during the film festival, she was asked about the controversy over the adoption process and whether it was to do with karma.

Madonna replied: “I suppose everything that happens to me is a karmic thing. It was meant to happen.

“So yes it was painful and a big struggle and I didn’t understand it.

“But in the end I rationalised that when a woman has a child and goes through natural childbirth, she suffers an enormous amount.

“So I sort of went through my own kind of birthing pains, dealing with the press on my doorstep, accusing me of kidnapping or whatever you want to call it.

“But I had to go through some kind of process and in the end it made me stronger so I can’t complain.”

She was also asked to clarify whether she believed David’s natural mother had died from Aids and whether his father had agreed to the adoption.

The singer replied: “Yes his mother did die of Aids and yes, I met his father and he has absolutely agreed to the adoption.”

Madonna’s hard-hitting film concerns the effects of Aids on orphans in Malawi.

The country has a population of 12 million and more than a million are orphans.

The movie, featuring Bill Clinton and Archbishop Desmond Tutu among others, follows real-life stories of children and the parents who have died and examines how inter-connected the world is.

Director Nathan Rissman previously did several jobs for Madonna, including a stint as her gardener.

Madonna was asked whether the film was an explanation for why she wanted to adopt David.

She said: “There is nothing controversial about the adoption.

“It is just there’s a lot of bureaucracy and administration…

“This adoption essentially was the beginning of the creation of adoption laws in Malawi…

“I am the template or the role model so to speak for future adoptions.”

She said she hoped it would make the process easier for other people to adopt children, continuing: “I am happy to be a guinea pig.

“The film was not made to explain the adoption.”

She said that meeting David, initially seen being cared for by a young girl in the film, illustrated how children looked after other children.

“It was an important part of the story,” she said.

Madonna said: “I went to Malawi in Africa thinking that I was going to save children’s lives and make a big difference in their lives and I was going to effect change in their lives and hopefully I have.

“But the surprise to me was how much they changed me and how much evolution and growth occurred inside of me.

“I realised that if you really want to change the world, you have to change yourself…

“The other thing is how little it takes to bring joy to people’s life, how little it takes to change someone’s life.”

The singer said she was grateful that the film had generated a buzz and homes for the movie were being found all over the world.

She learned “is that people are the same everywhere”.

Madonna said she realised people in her culture were taking anti-depressants and complaining yet had so much.

She said: “Who has it right? Who really needs to be saved? Who has the problem?”

She later said: “I’m as moved by the beauty of a palace as I am by the smile on a child’s face who’s lost their parents.”

She said it was important not to be judgmental about people’s cultural traditions, adding: “The best thing that we can do is to educate people.”

Madonna said she planned more films, specifically focusing on children in other parts of the world as well as feature films.

Describing Al Gore as an inspiration, Madonna said: “I’m sure there’s a lot of satire on him.

“He came back and stuck it to people and he made a film which I consider to be one of the most important films of the 21st century.”

Asked whether the people of Malawi knew who Madonna was, she replied jokingly: “They didn’t until all the paparazzi showed up.”

In a reference to her recent hit song, she was asked what she would do if she had four minutes to save the world.

Madonna joked: “I’d go to Malawi with Justin Timberlake,” before adding: “I would have to spend it with my children.”

Rissman said: “People living in extreme poverty are desperate to tell their story.”

Asked about his toughest moments, he said: “It’s really tough to figure out where that line exists between when do I stop filming and when do I continue filming.”

He talked about a woman who asked him to attend her son’s funeral.

Rissman said: “They are very open in sharing grief or sharing joy. She was more than accommodating for me to let me film the funeral.”

He said there were moments when he thought: “This is so emotionally overwhelming.

“I think that it’s impossible to just film without feeling emotion. There were many tears that I shed along that process.”

Rissman said he had been employed by the Ritchie family for years, holding various jobs.

Madonna joked: “He’s a great nanny.”

Rissman said: “Anything that was put in front of me I tried my best to do, the best that I could do... so yes, I was the gardener for a while.”

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