CANNES, France - Madonna says criticism over her adoption of a Malawian boy hurt so much that she compared it to birthing pains.
"It was painful, and it was a big struggle, and I didn't understand it," Madonna told reporters at the Cannes Film Festival on Thursday. "But in the end I rationalized that, when a woman has a child and goes through natural childbirth, she suffers an enormous amount.
"So I sort of went through my own kind of birthing pains with dealing with the press on my front doorstep accusing me of kidnapping or whatever you want to call it," she said.
Madonna was at the Cannes Film Festival to attend a gala benefit dinner for the American Foundation for AIDS Research, and to show "I Am Because We Are," a documentary she produced and narrated that shows poverty, AIDS and other diseases devastating Malawi's children.
Madonna, 49, has been raising David Banda, now two, since 2006, when she met him while in the southern African nation establishing charity projects there.
Critics have said Madonna used her celebrity status to circumvent Malawian adoption laws - allegations she denies. Malawian law is fuzzy on foreign adoptions. Regulations only stipulate that prospective parents undergo an 18-to-24-month assessment period in Malawi, a rule that was bent when Madonna was allowed to take David to London.
The singer said she was "happy to be the guinea pig" for Malawian adoptions.
"Hopefully, after we get through this adoption, it will be easier for people to adopt children," she said.
David's mother died when he was a month old. His father has said he believed he could not care for him alone and that placing him in an orphanage was the best way to ensure David's survival. The father has said he did not object to Madonna adopting David.
The adoption still must be approved, and a Malawian judge will issue his ruling next week. The judge, Andrew Nyirenda, sent a notice to Madonna's lawyers summoning them to his chambers Wednesday for the ruling.
Madonna and her husband, director Guy Ritchie, already have a son, Rocco, seven, and Madonna has a daughter, Lourdes, 11.
Madonna, whose documentary screened outside the official festival, said former U.S. Vice President Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" was an inspiration to her.
"He's a person that a lot of people made a lot of fun of, and picked on a lot, and I'm sure there was a lot of satire on him," Madonna said. "And he sort of came back and really stuck it to people, and he made a film that I consider to be one of the most important films of the 21st century."
Madonna's film is directed by Nathan Rissman, a first-time filmmaker. Rissman has had other, less glamorous collaborations with the Material Girl in the past - as a gardener and a caretaker for her kids.
"He's a great nanny," Madonna said.
"It's 'manny,"' Rissman joked.
Rissman said Madonna "loves to give people opportunities," and that he always tried his best at whatever task he was assigned.
"And I noticed," Madonna said.
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