Once upon a time, actors Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt had a true Hollywood romance: They were a couple for many years before marrying in 2014 and share six children. But in 2016, they split amid somewhat hazy, if acrimonious, circumstances.
Pitt and Jolie have largely remained silent about the breakup. But in a new interview for Vogue, Jolie, 45, noted, "I separated for the well-being of my family."
She added, "It was the right decision. I continue to focus on their healing. Some have taken advantage of my silence, and the children see lies about themselves in the media, but I remind them that they know their own truth and their own minds. In fact, they are six very brave, very strong young people."
At the time of her divorce filing in September 2016, an attorney for Jolie said, "This decision was made for the health of the family."
Rumors about the rift varied, including allegations of infidelity and abuse. Pitt, who was cleared of any allegations of abuse toward his children, did own up to drinking too much in a GQ Style interview in 2017.
Meanwhile, Jolie has always publicly looked toward the future, and to the children's state of mind. She is mother to adoptees Maddox, 18, Pax, 16 and Zahara, 15, plus biological children Shiloh, 14, and twins Knox and Vivienne, 11.
Asked what's important to consider when raising adopted and biological siblings, she told Vogue, "'Adoption' and 'orphanage' are positive words in our home. With my adopted children, I can't speak of pregnancy, but I speak with much detail and love about the journey to find them and what it was like to look in their eyes for the first time."
She noted that she did take into consideration the "complex history" between Cambodia (where Maddox is from) and Vietnam (where Pax is from) when choosing to adopt them both.
"I did originally think not to adopt from Vietnam because Mad was Cambodian and the two countries have a complex history," she said. "Then I was reading a book on human rights and found myself staring at an image of a Vietnamese fighter held captive by Americans. I thought of my own country and our involvement in Southeast Asia. I thought of focusing on a future where we were all family. I am very blessed to have been allowed to be their mom. I am grateful every day."
She's also conscious of ensuring each of her children feels part of the family — and understands their unique origins. "All adopted children come with a beautiful mystery of a world that is meeting yours," she said. "When they are from another race and foreign land, that mystery, that gift, is so full. For them, they must never lose touch with where they came from. They have roots that you do not. Honour them. Learn from them. It's the most amazing journey to share. They are not entering your world, you are entering each other’s worlds."