Angelina Jolie’s Daughter Zahara Lost Her Parents before Adoption, but She Reportedly Wasn't Orphaned Afterall
When celebrated actress Angelina Jolie set out to adopt an African girl, her heart was in the right place- wanting to give an orphan a loving home. It turns out that adopting Zahara could be illegal as her birth; mom was still alive.
In 2005, "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" actress Angelina Jolie wanted to make an addition to her little family. So together with her 3-year-old adopted son, Maddox, they boarded a plane to Ethiopia.
Having finally passed all adoption requirements, including a police background check and proof of financial stability, they were eligible to finally bring home their little girl, Zahara.
Why Ethiopia, you ask? Jolie had several reasons for choosing the East African Country. The country has over 5 million orphans, orphaned by famine, war, disease, and even the killer virus AIDS.
Also, her son Maddox loved Africa and asked for an African sibling, so when the little girl was put up for adoption, it seemed right to go the Ethiopian way. Her then-lover, Brad Pitt, who accompanied her to Africa, however, revealed:
"Angelina's adopting as a single mother, and she wants that emphasized."
According to Jolie, the little girl was malnourished and was suffering from a bad case of rickets. And so the beautiful actress took her home and nursed her back to health.
The adoption agency said her mother had died of AIDS, so Jolie's selfless act of kindness was welcomed with pomp and color and touched many a heart. But no one was prepared for the scandal that would ensue.
Zahara's mom Mentewab Dawit Lebiso, who was believed to have died from AIDS was alive, and could not understand why the agency had reported her dead. And her painful story broke everyone's heart.
Lebiso was born poor, and when she came of school-going age, she moved to her grandmother's home as she continued to attend school, but one night, while her grandmom was away, a man broke into their home and sexually assaulted her.
Lebiso says Jolie gave her daughter a life that she could not afford for her, and for that, she is forever grateful.
The heinous act resulted in a pregnancy, and her family disowned her. She thought of getting rid of the pregnancy, but where would she find the money? She struggled to raise her baby, and eventually, her mom, Almaz, offered to help.
The struggle was too much for young Lebiso, who ran away, leaving her baby with her mother. Their struggle story led to a man named Girma taking Zahara, who was going by the name Tena Adam, to Addis Ababa.
He promised Almaz he would introduce her to Zahara's adoptive family. But when she was adopted, Girma came back asking Almaz to say that Zahara's mother was dead. He tried everything to have Almaz denounce her granddaughter, she says:
"He even threatened that he'd put me in jail and have me tortured."
Girma would come to deny any involvement with the claims and the fact that he threatened the family, but it was undeniable that he brought them the adoption papers to sign. But despite the struggle, this is a story with a happy ending for Zahara.
Even though Lebiso is happy that her daughter, now Zahara Marley Jolie, has a better life in America, she cannot shake off the pain of being declared dead when she was very much alive.
Even with rumors that Lebiso was against the adoption, she says she had no ill feelings towards Jolie and considered Zahara fortunate to have been adopted by a famous actress. She wished them well.
Lebiso, however, also admits that she misses her daughter and would love to have some communication with her, even if only to hear her voice.
She says Jolie gave her daughter a life that she could not afford for her, and for that, she is forever grateful, but in an interview with Daily Mail in 2017, she said: "I long to be able to have regular contact with her."
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