11/03/2008 at 09:00 AM EST
Leona Lewis had an unexpected reaction to visiting South Africa earlier this year: the desire to adopt children.
"I wanted to take home all the kids. They were so cute. All of them had been orphaned because of HIV and it was heart-rending," the Bleeding Love
singer, 23, tells Britain's Daily Mirror
. "There are so many who need help – both here and abroad – you just don't know where to start."
Lewis, the Simon Cowell
protégé who performed at the closing finale to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, says her upbringing would make her an ideal mom for troubled children.
"My mum was a social worker and my dad was a youth offender officer, so I know that there are a lot of kids out there that need to be fostered and adopted," she says. "I definitely want to adopt."
Meanwhile, the performer has to cope with the rigors of her upcoming world tour – and being separated from her boyfriend and childhood sweetheart, Lou Al-Chama.
"I miss him so much every time we're apart because he is also my very best friend," she says. "I write little letters to him, and he makes me a CD of different songs I can listen to. He's lovely."
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