Madonna opens up about her life as a mom — and how she’s saving lives in Africa with her charity Raising Malawi. Subscribe now for an exclusive look into the megastar’s life — only in PEOPLE!
Already mom to David Banda and Mercy James, both 11, Rocco John, 17, and Lourdes, 20, the pop icon adopted the twins from Malawi in February. Madonna has a long history with the southeast African nation: She adopted David from Home of Hope, an orphanage in the capital city of Lilongwe, in 2008; a year later, she brought home Mercy after meeting her in an orphanage in Blantyre, Malawi’s business capital.
“It’s inexplicable,” Madonna, 59, says in the new issue of PEOPLE of what drew her to her children. “It’s like saying, ‘Why do you fall in love with the people you fall in love with?’ You look into the eyes of somebody, you feel their soul, you feel touched by them — that’s it.”
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Madonna had the same feeling when she met Estere and Stella two and a half years ago at Home of Hope. After spending time with them on subsequent trips, she had an epiphany last summer.
“Sometimes I would just close my eyes and just think, ‘Why isn’t my kitchen filled with dancing children?’ There’s so many children that need a home,” she recalls. “I thought, ‘What am I waiting for? Just do it.’ ”
And with that, she began the adoption process, after talking to her kids about expanding the family once again.
“Mercy and David were excited,” she says. For her older kids, “There might have been [a feeling of], ‘Oh, we have to share you with more people’ — not jealousy, but an adjustment,” she adds. “Eventually everyone was supportive. Lola said, ‘Mom, if that’s what you want and it’s going to make you happy, let’s go.’ ”
Since bringing Estere and Stella home in February, “It’s like they were always here,” Madonna says of the twins, who love watching Moana and Sing. “It didn’t take long for them to get acclimated.”
The family returned to Malawi in July, when Madonna and her charity, Raising Malawi, opened the Mercy James Institute for Pediatric Surgery and Intensive Care: the first children’s hospital in the nation. The trip was the twins’ first venture back to their native country since Madonna adopted them.
For much more on Madonna, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
“They were really happy to be there and speak [the native language] Chichewa with everybody,” Madonna says. “And they’ve learned, in time, that I’m their mother and nothing is going to change that.”
For more information on Raising Malawi, or to donate, click here.