Madonna Opens Up About Adoption Journey

Material Mom Madonna covers the latest issue of PEOPLE with four of her children — David, 11, Mercy, 11, and 5-year-old twins Estere and Stella — and opens up about family life with her six kids, including daughter Lourdes, 20, and 17-year-old son Rocco.

On adopting David Banda at Home of Hope, an orphanage in Malawi: “Every newspaper said I kidnapped him. In my mind, I was thinking, ‘Wait a minute. I’m trying to save somebody’s life. Why are you all s—-ing on me right now?’ I did everything by the book. That was a real low point for me. I would cry myself to sleep.”

On adopting Mercy from Malawi after divorcing Guy Ritchie: “[They claimed] I was not capable of raising a child. The way I was treated — that sexist behavior — was ridiculous. I’ve had some pretty dark moments, but I’m a survivor.”

On adopting Estere and Stella also from Malawi: “Because I’m a public figure, people don’t want to be perceived as giving me any kind of special treatment, so I get the hard road. It’s complicated, but it’s so worth it.”

On Estere and Stella: “It’s like they’ve always been here.”

On their mom being the Queen of Pop: “They don’t have a clue, and that’s a good thing. I’m just their mother.”

For more from Madonna, go to PEOPLE

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