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Fans know Madonna as the Queen of Pop, but at home, she’s just “Mom” or “Mambo” to her six children.

The “Material Girl” singer opened up about her life at home and her emotional adoption journey in the latest issue of PEOPLE. In 2008, the singer brought son David into her home after feeling an instant connection with him in Malawi.

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“Every newspaper said I kidnapped him,” she said. “In my mind, I was thinking, ‘Wait a minute. I’m trying to save somebody’s life. Why are you all shitting on me right now?’ I did everything by the book. That was a real low point for me. I would cry myself to sleep.”


Soon after, Madonna began the process of adopting daughter Mercy. She had recently split from ex-husband Guy Ritchie and Malawian officials said she was “not capable of raising a child.”

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“The way I was treated, that sexist behavior, was ridiculous,” she said. She successfully challenged the country’s refusal and brought Mercy home in 2009.

“I’ve had some pretty dark moments,” Madonna said, “but I’m a survivor.”

Just this year, Madonna brought Estere and Stella home after meeting them two-and-a-half years ago at Home of Hope.

“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,” she said. “It’s complicated, but it’s so worth it.”

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