“It’s strange, I never wanted to have a baby. I never wanted to be pregnant. I never babysat,” Jolie recently shared in an interview with the Associated Press. “I never thought of myself as a mother.”
Jolie said that her perspective on motherhood changed when she was visiting Cambodia as a United Nations goodwill ambassador in the early 2000s.
The actress, now 40, said that she was talking and playing with children at a Cambodian school when she was struck with a realization that she wanted to adopt a child from the country that had been so welcoming to her.
“It was suddenly very clear to me that my son was in the country, somewhere,” Jolie said.
In 2002, she adopted her first child, son Maddox, from a Cambodian orphanage in Battambang. The next year, she opened a foundation in her son’s name that helps fund education and healthcare in rural areas of Cambodia.
Jolie first came to Cambodia to film the 2001 action flick Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, which is when she fell in love with the country.
“When I first came to Cambodia, it changed me. It changed my perspective. I realized there was so much about history that I had not been taught in school, and so much about life that I needed to understand, and I was very humbled by it,” Jolie shared.
Now, 15 years later, the actress is back in the country and this time she’s behind the camera directing First They Killed My Father, a biopic and historical drama about the horrors of life under the Khmer Rouge.
Jolie was recently joined in Cambodia by Maddox, now 14, who has been following in her humanitarian footsteps.
Jolie and her husband, Brad Pitt, are the proud parents of six children, including Maddox, 11-year-old daughter Zahara (adopted from an orphanage in Ethiopia in 2005), 9-year-old daughter Shiloh (the couple’s first biological child), 12-year-old son Pax (adopted from an orphanage in Vietnam) and their 7-year-old twins, daughter Vivienne and son Knox.
“For me, this is the moment where finally my life is kind of in line, and I feel I’m finally where I should be,” Jolie shared.