Angelina Jolie, who has been romantically linked with her “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” co-star Brad Pitt, is adopting an orphaned Ethiopian baby girl.
Jolie visited the Horn of Africa nation last week to file her adoption request, accompanied by Pitt and her 3-year-old son, Maddox, whom she adopted in Cambodia, an official said Wednesday.
“The paperwork has gone through. Miss Angelina’s request was accepted last week,” Hadosh Halefom, head of the country’s state-run adoption agency, told The Associated Press.
The child “is less than a year old,” Hadosh said, refusing to elaborate. The actress filed her request through a private adoption agency.
“If people’s paperwork is in order, it can take only two days to finalize everything,” Hadosh said.
In a posting on People magazine’s Web site, Jolie is quoted as saying the child’s name is Zahara Marley Jolie and that she and Maddox are “very happy to have a new addition to our family.”
The twice-divorced Jolie has often talked of adopting a second child.
For months, rumors have been circulating about the extent of her off-screen relationship with Pitt. Photos published in the July 11 issue of People show Jolie standing near her Buckinghamshire, England, estate while Pitt rides a dirt bike with Maddox. Other photos show Pitt, Jolie and Maddox at Luton Airport outside London.
Pitt and his wife, Jennifer Aniston, announced their separation in January, and Aniston filed for divorce in March, citing irreconcilable differences. Pitt, 41, has denied Jolie, 30, is the reason for the split and Jolie has said she’s never had sex with Pitt.
Hadosh said Jolie had met the 10 conditions for adopting a child from Ethiopia.
“The two most important are economic capabilities and check with the police,” Hadosh said. “Although she is a film star, she still has to meet the same requirements as everybody else.”
Ethiopia, a country of 70 million, has more than 5 million orphans, their parents lost to famine, disease, war and AIDS — a catastrophe the government has said is “tearing apart the social fabric” of the east African nation.
Caring for the orphans costs $115 million a month in a country whose annual health budget is only $140 million. Because of that, Ethiopia has gone out of its way to make adoption easier.
In 2003, a record 1,400 children were adopted from abroad, more than double the number in the previous year. The number of private adoption agencies in Addis Ababa, the capital, has doubled in the past year to 30.
Ethiopia has strict laws to thwart dubious adoption agents and to ensure that the orphan really exists, that the paperwork is not fraudulent and that no AIDS-infected children are being passed off as healthy.
Agencies charge fees of around $20,000 per child, a relatively inexpensive fee compared to many other countries.