The 58-year-old singer recalled the emotional three-and-a-half years it took for her to win the right to adopt the tot from Malawi, after successfully taking on the care of her son David in 2006, as she was initially told it wouldn’t be possible as she had recently divorced film director Guy Ritchie.
Speaking at the opening of The Mercy James Institute for Pediatric Surgery and Intensive Care in Malawi – the first facility of its kind in the country – on Tuesday (11.07.17), she recalled: “I met Mercy soon after I met my son David, but they were living in different orphanages. David was in Mchinji in Home of Hope, and Mercy was here in Blantyre at Kondanani. Mercy was suffering from malaria, and David from pneumonia. And when I held each of them in my arms, I whispered in their ears, that I would look after them. And I promised them that they would grow up into strong and healthy adults.
“I was granted permission to adopt David first. And some time later, I filed a petition to adopt Mercy. But this time, the judge who was presiding said no. I was recently divorced, and she informed me, as a divorced woman, I was not fit to raise children and that Mercy James was better off growing up in an orphanage.”
As well as her split from Guy, Madonna had also defied Malawian law which requires would-be parents to live in the country for a year before adopting, but she refused to take no for an answer and hired a “team” of lawyers to keep arguing her case.
She continued: “If you know me, you can imagine how I received this information. It’s true, I am a freedom fighter. I am a feminist. I am a rebel heart. But I am also a compassionate and intelligent human being. And if you cannot give me a logical reason for the word ‘no,’ then I will not accept the word ‘no.’ I hired a team of lawyers, and I took my case to the supreme court, and it was not an easy battle.
“The adoption laws in Malawi had not been reformed since the early ’40s, and it had not occurred to anyone to change them yet. So my argument was that women have been raising children for centuries, on their own … not to mention the fact that I was doing just fine raising my own three children.”
The ‘Hung Up’ singer urged people not to “stop fighting” for their beliefs, to follow their dreams and to always persevere.
She added: “I never gave up. And I never backed down. And I believe that if you want something badly enough in life, the universe will conspire to help you get it. It may not be exactly when you want it, it may not come exactly when you think it’s gonna come. It may not come in the package that you want it. But if you persevere, you will win.
“I fought for Mercy, and I won. It wasn’t easy. And with the blood, sweat, and tears of so many people here today, we fought for this hospital–and we won. So I’m here to say: never, ever give up on your dreams. Never stop fighting for what you believe in. And finally: Love conquers all.”
After Madonna’s touching speech, Mercy herself gave a short speech in which she praised her mother as “the bomb”.
The ‘Holiday’ hitmaker was joined at the opening of the surgery by her five youngest children, Rocco, 16, David, 11, Mercy, and four-year-old twins Stella and Esther.
Madonna – who also has daughter Lourdes, 20 – helped fund the building through her charity Raising Malawi, which was founded in 2006.