Madonna's 6 Children: Everything to Know

·7 min read
Madonna and her kids
Madonna and her kids

Madonna Instagram

Madonna is crazy for her six kids!

The pop icon welcomed her first child, Lourdes, in 1996 and grew her brood with the additions of Rocco, David, Mercy and twins Stella and Estere.

In 2017, Madonna appeared on the cover of PEOPLE and opened up about her life at home with her children and her emotional adoption journey.

"Sometimes I would just close my eyes and just think, 'Why isn't my kitchen filled with dancing children?' There's so many children that need a home," she said. "I thought, 'What am I waiting for? Just do it.' "

Madonna and family
Madonna and family

Madonna Instagram

Madonna described the instant connection she felt to her kids upon meeting them. "It's inexplicable," she said. "It's like saying, 'Why do you fall in love with the people you fall in love with?' You look into the eyes of somebody, you feel their soul, you feel touched by them — that's it."

The "Like a Virgin" singer honored all six of her children by getting her first tattoo in December 2020 — each of their initials on her wrist. Most recently, Madonna celebrated her 64th birthday in August 2022 surrounded by her kids during a trip to Italy. "Tanti auguri (happy birthday)," she captioned a photo of her and her children posing during the festivities.

Keep scrolling to get to know all of Madonna's beloved kids.

Lourdes, 25

Lourdes Leon attends the 2022 Vanity Fair Oscar Party following the 94th Oscars at the The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, California on March 27, 2022
Lourdes Leon attends the 2022 Vanity Fair Oscar Party following the 94th Oscars at the The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, California on March 27, 2022

PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP

Madonna and her then-husband, fitness trainer Carlos Leon, welcomed Lourdes Leon on Oct. 14, 1996, in Los Angeles. From the beginning, Madonna's eldest was the light of her life. Madonna wrote "Little Star," a song on her 1998 Grammy-winning album Ray of Light, for her firstborn.

Now a successful fashion model in her own right, Lourdes has worked for Rihanna's Savage x Fenty line, Burberry, Marc Jacobs, Swarovski and Mugler, and has been featured in Vogue and Vanity Fair.

While she admits her famous mom was "a control freak" when she was a kid, she has since come to admire "how empowering to other women and ahead of her time she has always been."

Madonna and Lourdes Leon
Madonna and Lourdes Leon

Madonna Instagram

"I didn't fully comprehend that until I realized the importance of empowerment and what it means to be a woman," she told Interview Magazine in 2021. "She's probably the hardest worker I've ever seen. I didn't inherit that, unfortunately. I inherited her control issues, but not her work ethic!"

In August 2022, Lourdes followed in her mom's footsteps with the release of her debut single "Lock&Key."

Rocco, 22

Rocco Ritchie attends the Marine Serre Menswear Spring Summer 2023 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on June 25, 2022 in Paris, France
Rocco Ritchie attends the Marine Serre Menswear Spring Summer 2023 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on June 25, 2022 in Paris, France

Julien Hekimian/Getty

After splitting from Carlos Leon in May 1997, Madonna began dating director Guy Ritchie in 1998. Their son Rocco Ritchie was born in L.A. on Aug. 11, 2000, and was christened in Scotland at Dornoch Cathedral in December 2000. Madonna and Ritchie tied the knot the next day at Skibo Castle, though the couple later divorced in 2008.

"She's a good mother … She's very strict but in a good way," Rocco told Ellen DeGeneres of his mom in 2012. At the time, he was touring with Madonna and completing his school work with a tutor, but he later decided to live with his father in London to attend a traditional school. While that caused some tension between Rocco and his mother — and a custody battle between Madonna and Guy — the two were back on good terms by June 2016.

Rocco Ritchie and Madonna perform during the MDNA North America tour opener at the Wells Fargo Center on August 28, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Rocco Ritchie and Madonna perform during the MDNA North America tour opener at the Wells Fargo Center on August 28, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Kevin Mazur/WireImage

"We have been on many trips together around the world, but the greatest journey I have taken with you is the one inside my ♥️," Madonna wrote for her son's 21st birthday. "Love you to the moon and back. Forever and always."

Now, Rocco is a model and actor, having posed with his mom for a spread in Love magazine and appeared in her "Bitch I'm Madonna" music video. In honor of her son's 22nd birthday in August 2022, Madonna threw Rocco a family-filled festivity where he celebrated with his siblings and cut into a realistic briefcase-shaped cake.

David, 17

David Ritchie
David Ritchie

Madonna Instagram

David Banda was born in Malawi on Sept. 24, 2005.

Madonna founded her charitable organization Raising Malawi in 2006, and in October of that year, she took a humanitarian trip to the country. While visiting, she and Ritchie decided to adopt 1-year-old David from Home of Hope, an orphanage in the capital city of Lilongwe.

The couple faced legal repercussions because Malawi requires adoptive parents to live in the country for at least 18 months to become a resident, and residency is a prerequisite to legal adoption. The adoption was finally approved on May 28, 2008.

David Banda and Madonna attend the WBA World Lightweight Championship title bout between Gervonta Davis and Rolando Romero at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on May 28, 2022 in New York City
David Banda and Madonna attend the WBA World Lightweight Championship title bout between Gervonta Davis and Rolando Romero at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on May 28, 2022 in New York City

Cassy Athena/Getty

In 2019, Madonna explained her special connection with David to British Vogue. "He's] the one I have the most in common with," she said. "I feel like he gets me; he has more of my DNA than any of my children so far."

As he's grown, David has often been included in Madonna's performances, like when he joined her on stage at her New York City Pride variety show in June 2022, showing off some dance moves and comedy.

David Banda and Madonna at her Evening of Music, Art, Mischief and Performance to Benefit Raising Malawi at Faena Forum on December 3, 2016 in Miami Beach, Florida
David Banda and Madonna at her Evening of Music, Art, Mischief and Performance to Benefit Raising Malawi at Faena Forum on December 3, 2016 in Miami Beach, Florida

Kevin Mazur/Getty

"I cannot believe you have grown into this young man! This artist. This athlete. This articulate and charismatic human," she wrote on his 16th birthday. "Who knew when I met you at Home of Hope Orphanage in Malawi, drinking coke out of a baby bottle and wearing no diaper, that you would become this force of nature? Happy sweet sixteen! ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜🤎🖤 I'm so proud of you!"

Madonna also praised her son's fashion prowess during an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in August 2022.

"He can put on any outfit and look swag as you know what," she told Fallon of David. "It's really irritating. He wears my clothes and looks better in them. He can even wear a dress and look butch."

The Material Girl singer pulled out all the stops for David's 17th birthday. She took him to a Harry Styles concert in N.Y.C. and threw him a disco-themed party.

"Happy 17th Birthday David Banda……..You My Ride or Die!!!!" Madonna wrote on Instagram.

Mercy, 16

madonna and mercy james
madonna and mercy james

madonna/instagram

Chifundo "Mercy" James was born in Malawi on Jan. 22, 2006. In 2008, Madonna settled her divorce from Ritchie, and in May 2009, applied to adopt Mercy as a single mother from an orphanage in Blantyre, Malawi. The High Court initially rejected her application, but she was later approved to adopt Mercy on June 12, 2009.

Madonna (L) hugs her Malawian adopted daughter Mercy James after she made a speech during the opening ceremony of the Mercy James Children's Hospital at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi, on July 11, 2017. Madonna on July 11 took her four adopted Malawian children back to their home country for the opening of a paediatric hospital wing that her charity has built
Madonna (L) hugs her Malawian adopted daughter Mercy James after she made a speech during the opening ceremony of the Mercy James Children's Hospital at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi, on July 11, 2017. Madonna on July 11 took her four adopted Malawian children back to their home country for the opening of a paediatric hospital wing that her charity has built

AMOS GUMULIRA/AFP

In July 2017, Madonna opened the Mercy James Institute for Pediatric Surgery and Intensive Care, the first pediatric surgery and intensive care center in Malawi.

Mercy celebrated her 16th birthday in January 2022 at Six Flags Magic Mountain and a Tupac Shakur exhibit. "Happy Birthday Chifundo Mercy James," Madonna wrote on Instagram. "The kindest, most thoughtful, most magical girl on the planet! There is no one like you!"

Stella and Estere, 10

Stella and Estere Ciccone
Stella and Estere Ciccone

Madonna Instagram

Twins Stella and Estere were born in Malawi on Aug. 24, 2012. Madonna adopted her youngest daughters when they were 5 in February 2017.

"It's like they were always here," the Swept Away star told PEOPLE. "It didn't take long for them to get acclimated."

Maddona with Stella and Estere Ciccone
Maddona with Stella and Estere Ciccone

Madonna Instagram

"And they've learned, in time, that I'm their mother and nothing is going to change that," she added.

As the girls have grown, they've discovered their passions and talents. Madonna has shown off Stella's piano skills; both girls are talented dancers like their older brother.

Maddona with Stella and Estere Ciccone
Maddona with Stella and Estere Ciccone

Madonna Instagram

When the twins turned 10 in August 2022, the "Material Girl" singer celebrated them with a sweet slideshow of photos and videos on Instagram. "Happy birthday Estere and Stella Mwale! 💖💖 You both bring so much Love- Laughter and Light ✨✨ into all of our lives!! 💕💕," she captioned the post.

Madonna also threw the girls an epic wig party to celebrate the occasion. The proud mom shared snaps from the event on Instagram, including a photo of the twins posing with their siblings Mercy and David while wearing festive wigs.