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Madonna Battled with Adopted Daughter’s Biological Family before Losing Custody of Her Son

Busayo Ogunjimi
Feb 06, 2022
11:00 A.M.
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American music star Madonna had struggles being the ideal mother to her kids. Despite her strict approach to motherhood, the singer-songwriter faced difficulties training and having full custody of some of her children. 

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Top American music legend Madonna is known for the hit tracks she has dropped for 43 years and counting. Aside from being an acclaimed singer and an inspiration for young talent, the 63-year-old blond beauty is a doting mom of six. 

Madonna is one music star who has made headlines several times for her love for children. Madonna's affection for the younger generation moves beyond color or race, but this did not prevent her from the battle she would face as a mother.

Madonna launches the MDNA SKIN collection at Ludlow House on September 26, 2017, in New York City [left]. Picture of singer Madonna with her daughter Mercy | Photo: Getty Images

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BEING A MOM

Madonna is a loving mother of two biological kids, biological daughter Lourdes and son Rocco and four adopted children from Malawi: David, Mercy, and twins Estere and Stella.

To the public, Madonna may be one of the most influential figures in pop culture, but away from the stage, she is simply a mom to her kids. Over the years, the mom of six has been quite open about her rather strict approach to parenting.

Singer Madonna Launches Her Signature Fragrance "Truth Or Dare" By Madonna Macy's Herald Square on April 12, 2012 in New York City. | Photo: Getty Images

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Once reflecting on her life as a mother in an interview, Madonna revealed she is a disciplinarian. The "Hung Up" singer did not grant her children access to TV or magazines.

Growing up with Madonna, milk and ice cream were off-limits. She is also strict with her laundry rule and does not tolerate untidiness. Speaking on how she gets her kids to follow her cleanliness rules, Madonna said:

"If Lourdes leaves dirty clothes on the floor, we take all of her clothes and put them in a bag, and she has to earn all of her clothes back by being tidy."

Madonna and her kids, Lourdes and Rocco, enjoy a day out in the sunshine on September 7, 2004 in Hyde Park, London | Photo: Getty Images

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While many parents relaxed some rules as their children mature, Madonna did otherwise. Her son did not get his first phone until he was 13 and, when he eventually did, she regretted the decision. 

The doting mom said phones ended her relationship with her children, as it became a big part of their lives. They also began comparing themselves to other people, which she said is "really bad for self-growth."

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MADONNA'S LOVE FOR CHILDREN 

Madonna channeled her love for humanity into creating the Mercy James Center for Pediatric Surgery and Intensive Care in Malawi. The center is the first children's hospital in the nation. 

She also founded Raising Malawi, a nonprofit organization that aims to educate and support health services for orphans and children in the country. 

However, Madonna's works weren't only profitable to the nation but to her as well. The singer-songwriter connected with her four adopted children while in Malawi.

US artist Madonna and her adopted daughter Mercy James sit at a community school funded by her during a visit to Gumulira Millenium villages in Mchinji, west of the capital, Lilongwe, on April 5, 2010 | Photo: Getty Images

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CUSTODY BATTLE 

With all the wealth in Madonna's possession and the care she could provide with it, one would have expected that adopting a child would be less complicated, but for the "Material Girl" singer, that wasn't always the case.

The adoption of her daughter Mercy James was more complicated than many would have expected. In 2009, when Madonna applied to adopt the Malawian girl, the country's high court turned her request down.

US Pop Star Madonna's biological daughter Lourdes and adopted daughter Mercy James (R) clap hands during a visit to Mkoko Primary School on April 2, 2013 | Photo: Getty Images

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However, in June of the same year, the country's Supreme Court granted her the right to adopt Mercy. Mercy was the second child Madonna would adopt from Malawi.

Chief Justice Lovemore Munlo, reading the three-judge panel's ruling, said the singer's commitment to helping less privileged children should have been considered when deciding on Madonna's request to adopt Mercy.

Madonna hugs her Malawian adopted daughter Mercy James after she made a speech during the opening ceremony of the Mercy James Children's Hospital at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi, on July 11, 2017 | Photo: Getty Images

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But, the court's decision did not end Madonna's struggles over the girl's custody. After Mercy's adoption, the girl's family sent heated messages to Madonna as they claimed they only placed their daughter "temporarily" in an orphanage.

The girl's teenage mother, Mwandida, died eight days after Mercy was born in January 2005 and her family placed her in an orphanage as they couldn't take care of her.

David Banda, Mercy James, musician Madonna, and actor Sean Penn arrive at the 5th Annual Sean Penn & Friends HELP HAITI HOME Gala benefiting J/P Haitian Relief Organization at Montage Hotel on January 9, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California | Photo: Getty Images

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A friend of the girl's mother, Agatha Molenda, claimed the family never intended to permanently separate from their daughter.

The family had an agreement with the orphanage that Mercy would return to them upon reaching the age of six. However, after Mercy's adoption, the family claimed Madonna broke the rules, and Molenda revealed:

"Somehow it seems to have been wrongly interpreted that by putting her at an orphanage they no longer cared for her, or that they were happy for her to be adopted, which is totally incorrect."

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Mercy's Malawian family alleged Madonna broke promises of visitation rights and the girl's eventual return, but Madonna denied the claims.  

Amidst the war between the music icon and Mercy's family, a spokesperson for the "La Isla Bonita" singer said Mercy's past and heritage were never hidden from her.

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OTHER CUSTODY BATTLES

Madonna is evidently a doting mother, and she stopped at nothing when it came to fighting for her kids. But love wasn't enough, as her strict parenting style almost ended her relationship with her son Rocco.

Rocco is Madonna's child with Guy Ritchie. When the couple divorced in 2008, this split the time spent with Rocco. During this time, Madonna remained a strict parent and kept much of her son's life private.

However, after a few months of co-parenting, news came out of a custody battle between the ex-couple. Madonna headed to court in 2015 after reports that Rocco wanted to remain in London with his father surfaced.

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Madonna and her son, Rocco, enjoy a day out in the sunshine on September 7, 2004 in Hyde Park, London | Photo: Getty Images

Despite Madonna's attempts to win her son over, Rocco was firm about his decision to stay in London. Madonna and Guy eventually settled things privately. 

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News later surfaced that the mother and son reunited in 2016, and despite living in different countries, they appeared to have a good relationship.

acqui Ainsley, Rocco Ritchie, Guy Ritchie and David Ciccone Ritchie attend "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." New York Premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater on August 10, 2015 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images

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CONTROVERSIES OVER ADOPTED SON 

While many would have expected motherhood to be easier for the famous and wealthy, for Madonna, it was "complicated." In an interview, the mom of six shared her struggles being a parent as she offered a rare insight into her private life.

From facing different custody battles to controversies over her adopted children, parenting has clearly been difficult for Madonna. The pop icon says she has had some "pretty dark moments."

David Banda and Madonna at her Evening of Music, Art, Mischief and Performance to Benefit Raising Malawi at Faena Forum on December 3, 2016 in Miami Beach, Florida | Photo: Getty Images

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Already a mom of two, the Queen of pop first saw her son, David Banda, at an orphanage in Lilongwe, Malawi. The child had been suffering from pneumonia and malaria at the time, and feeling an instant connection, she decided to adopt him.

In 2008, Madonna was met with different controversies while returning to London with the child. Some news platforms claimed she kidnapped the boy, and for Madonna, who said she was trying to save a life, it was a "really low point" in her life.

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Madonna met David just before her connection with daughter Mercy. She also adopted twins Estere and Stella, whom she met in "Home of Hope."

Over the years, Madonna and her six kids have made countless appearances on her social media platforms and at events. She took to Instagram on December 15, 2020, to share an image of Estere and Stella. The twins looked stunning as they rocked blue and red bandanas. 

Her Instagram story also has a video that gives a sneak peek at some family moments. The doting mom also celebrated father's day on June 20, 2021, with a snapshot featuring her, the kids, and her dad Silvio Ciccone.

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