“He Smiled at Her and Got Up Instead of Crying,” How Angelina Jolie Fell in Love With Baby Maddox and Decided to Adopt Him

Angelina Jolie is an activist who promotes kindness and justice across the world. Along with her humanitarian and philanthropic work, she made heads turn in 2002 when she decided to adopt baby Maddox from Cambodia. As her oldest son, Maddox marks the beginning of a beautiful blended family.

We at Bright Side did some research about the story of baby Maddox and Angelina, fell in love with it, and believe it’s worth sharing.

Angelina Jolie didn’t want to be a mother then.

Today, Angelina Jolie is a mother of 6 beautiful children, 3 of whom were adopted. And even though it’s hard for us to believe that the famous actress never wanted to have a baby, she strongly affirmed this by saying, “I never wanted to be pregnant. I never babysat. I never thought of myself as a mother.” After her trip to Cambodia, she changed her perspective and started to see things differently.

Jolie’s trip to Cambodia.

Cambodia has a special place in Jolie’s heart — it was the country where she filmed her smash hit movie, Tomb Raider, in 2000. Since then, she fell in love with the people and was captivated by what was happening in the country at that time.

The country triggered her humanitarian side and she contacted the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees to become a goodwill ambassador in 2001. She recalls: “That trip triggered my realization of how little I knew and the beginning of my search for that knowledge.” And if this wasn’t enough to solidify a strong connection with Cambodia, she visited an orphanage and met her first son, Maddox.

She chose Maddox out of the hundreds of orphaned babies in the country.

With her then-husband, Billy Bob Thornton, the Hollywood star was visiting a Cambodian orphanage when she saw baby Maddox, whose fate was about to change. Jolie and Maddox both had an instant connection, according to a former friend who said, “As far as I understand from her, when she visited the place and saw Maddox, he smiled at her and got up instead of crying like all the other babies. It touched her heart, that’s why she chose Maddox.”

Maddox was not the only one whose life changed that day. It was then that the actress discovered her maternal epiphany and her wiliness to help underprivileged children around the world.

Adopting Maddox wasn’t an easy task.

Because of baby trafficking at that time in Cambodia, it was not easy for a foreigner to adopt a Cambodian baby. Jolie, who faced difficulties with legal issues, reached out to her friend and former Cambodian business associate, Sarath Mounh. He added Maddox to his family record so that Jolie could adopt him legally from a Cambodian father.

Maddox was officially adopted on March 10, 2002, by Jolie as a single parent. She named him Maddox instead of Rath Vibol, which was his birth name.

Cambodia will always be a part of Maddox’s identity.

At the age of 15, Maddox encouraged his mother to make the global nominated movie, First They Killed My Father, a movie that reflects the experience of Cambodian human rights activist Luong Ung’s memoir, as a young girl under the brutal rule of the Khmer Rouge. Maddox knew the Cambodian activist and wanted to document what happened in his country.

And Jolie made sure of it.

While making the movie, she recalls Maddox’s involvement: “He read the script, helped with notes, and was in the production meetings.” The movie was directed by Jolie with Maddox actively working alongside her, which helped him dig into the history of his country and connect with his roots.

The strong ties Angelina has with Cambodia made her create the Maddox Jolie Foundation back in 2003, which eventually became the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation. It is dedicated to alleviating extreme rural poverty, protecting the environment and conserving wildlife in rural northwestern Cambodia. Associating the name Maddox and Cambodia proves that she’s raising him to be a proud Cambodian.

What do you think about Angelina and Maddox’s story? Let us know in the comments!

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