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Nia Vardalos: ‘A Giddy Idiot on Mother’s Day’

05/08/2010 at 02:00 PM ET
David Livingston/Getty

The second Sunday of May was a date that Nia Vardalos always did her best to forget. That is, until she welcomed a daughter in 2008.

“Admittedly, I am a giddy idiot on Mother’s Day,” she writes in a blog for Anderson Cooper 360.

“I’m also a hypocrite because for a long time … just the drugstore card rack would make me queasy.”

Despite years of trying to start a family with her husband, Cougar Town star Ian Gomez, Vardalos’ unsuccessful attempts to become pregnant were only intensified in her social circle.

“Some women would innocently ask why we didn’t have children. Others would overhear and exclaim what a great father my husband would be, so why on Earth didn’t we have kids?” she recalls.

“A lot of ‘You should’ advice came my way. From the ‘latest technique in Europe,’ to ‘just adopt from China’ — everyone weighed in.”

And although Vardalos insists she was grateful for the good thoughts, the actress admits the constant reminders were too “painful” for her to bear. So much so, that at times lashing out was almost too tempting.

“One woman actually made fun of my anatomy while proclaiming how her body worked ‘perfectly,’” she shares.

“And sure, I could have innocently asked, ‘Did pregnancy hormones grow your mustache or did you have it before?’ But I didn’t.”

Instead, Vardalos, 47, kept her hopes up for a child all the while denying she was expecting as she sipped non-alcoholic beverages. The experience, she jokes, left her with a bit of advice — and a lesson in tact!

“There were women who would pat my tummy and say, ‘When are you due?’ A small social guideline: don’t ask a woman if she is pregnant unless her water breaks on your flip-flops, a baby arm dangles out of her vagina and she asks you to cut the cord,” she suggests. “Then and only then may you ask if she’s having a baby. Otherwise, shut up.”

Fortunately, Vardalos’ dreams finally came true when she and Gomez were matched “with our perfect daughter” through the American foster care system.

“Over a year later, she is thriving in an environment of love and care,” the proud mama raves of her 4-year-old.

“And, if I’m happy on this day, it’s because I am in love with being a mom and so grateful for the circumstances, as painful as they were, that led me to my wonderful daughter.”

– Anya Leon

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Showing 28 comments

klutzy_girl on

I didn’t know she was married to the guy who plays Andy on Cougar Town! That’s awesome!

And aww, yay for her Mother’s Day.

Amanda on

I really applaud her for adopting out of the foster care system. Those are the kids really need families. It’s an individual choice and I respect whatever each family chooses but adopting a healthy infant from birth is not helping out an orphan, there are waiting families by the thousands waiting for healthy infants to adopt straight from the hospital. As well as waiting lists years long to adopt infants in other countries. The kids in foster care are often forgotten because often times they come from troubled backgrounds, aren’t perfectly healthy and are often older children.

Vinaya on

“One woman actually made fun of my anatomy while proclaiming how her body worked ‘perfectly,’ ”

What an asshole! That other woman probably felt inadequate to Nia’s successful career and marriage and felt the need to childishly lash out.

Anonymous on

It’s a great story to hear.

urbanadventurertales on

Congrats to Nia! We need more committed foster parents in the US. Foster children deserve loving families that are committed to their well-being!

On a side note- I feel like this site has not been posting as many stories lately…any reason?

DS on

My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Sequal????

Allison on

I find her amazing and laughed at the “when are you due” comment. Too true. I don’t understand why people don’t think before they speak. After many encounters with women who looked condescendingly down at a good friend of mine for having difficulty to conceive, thinking that their ability to get pregnant in a cinch somehow made them more superior and womanly than my friend made me furious. She is now the proud mother of a little girl and she is literally the best example of a great mom I can find.

Not to mention: having a child does not make you a mother, raising one does.

Valerie on

Amanda, I’m really hoping you’ve adopted an older child from the foster care system to be passing such a judgement. Going through trouble conceiving is incredibly heartbreaking and deciding to adopt is such a personal choice. Adopting a child that needs a home (American or other) is an amazing journey that no one can understand or judge. I, for one, can’t wait to hold my little Malian baby in my arms and finally be a mom!
Congrats again to Nia and her husband for their amazing family!

alice jane on

It is a dream of mine to adopt from the foster care system. I know how hard it can be, given the things the kids have often had to deal with, but there are just so many children out there, of all ages, who need a family. Kudos to Nia and her husband for going that route, and by the sounds of it, it was a rewarding one for them!

paula on

“Not to mention: having a child does not make you a mother, raising one does.”

Allison – I love that! I’m going to use it from now on!

Kat on

I’m always stunned when people think what is or is not going on in someone else’s uterus is any of their business. Ms. Vardalos handled this with a lot more grace than I would have.

Lorelei on

Absolutely agree with you Kat. Right after a heartbreaking miscarriage before our three children someone asked me if I was pregnant yet. I lost it and my husband handled it. People can be really insensitive. It’s no ones business whether you want children or not or whether you’re having challenges getting or staying pregnant or not. If I wanted to talk about it to you I would have. Ms. Vardolas absolutely handled it perfectly. I wish all mothers a happy and wonderful Mother’s Day.

Amanda on

Valerie- nowhere in my statement did I say I was judging anyone. I fully respect whatever is the right choice for each family. It just kind of irks me when people talk about how someone is ‘saving an orphan’ when they adopt a baby whom there are waiting lists years long for. There isn’t anything WRONG with it, but the truly forgotten kids, the kids who might be orphans for life are older children both here and in other countries. And no, I haven’t adopted a child out of the foster care system yet, but we do plan on being foster parents as soon are our current youngest is out of diapers, it’s always been something on my heart since a good friend of mine growing up was a foster child who was finally, thankfully, adopted when we were in high school. There’s no judgement for those who don’t feel comfortable doing so, but I do love seeing the stories of people adopting out of foster care, especially when they are influential people.

aury on

“There were women who would pat my tummy and say, ‘When are you due?’ A small social guideline: don’t ask a woman if she is pregnant unless her water breaks on your flip-flops, a baby arm dangles out of her vagina and she asks you to cut the cord,” she suggests. “Then and only then may you ask if she’s having a baby. Otherwise, shut up.”

lmao… so true. i remember when i was fifteen, women would come up to me asking when i was gonna have a baby. i’ll admit that i didn’t handle the situation as delicately as nia.

happy mother’s day, everyone. :)

Daniella on

I give Nia a huge ovation for adopting out of the foster care system. Two of my older male cousins were adopted out of the system by my aunt & uncle & I absolutely love them to death. They were adopted at the ages of 8 & 6, both are biological brothers who came from an extremely….messed up background. It took a long time to convince them that we all loved them, weren’t going to get rid of them & weren’t going to hurt them before they started to come around & trust the family. There was a good deal of regular therapy for the first few years too, but now they are happy, well-adjusted young men with one in college & the other in the military.

What a lot of people also forget is that a lot of kids in the foster care system aren’t up for adoption. Every single case is different because most of these kids have parents who did not willingly give them up. And most children in the foster care system are also older & have seen a lot of shit. I know my cousins did, but every case is different. There’s a vast difference between adopting a newborn or adopting an 8 year old child. My aunt & uncle learned that, but they knew what they were getting into & they don’t regret it at all. Every family is different & must do what they feel is right for them.

Rebecca on

I had a woman ask me if I was pregnant not too long ago and said, “No, I’m just fat.” She was mortified and I told her not to worry about it, but the only moment it’s ok is to if the woman is crowning.

Molly on

OMG rebecca, that’s awesome, I am totally going to use that one. I bet that woman will never ever ever ask anyone when is she due or when is she having a baby !!!

dfs on

Rebecca, I’ve used that line too. It’s amazing how many grown adults still thinks it’s ok to ask a woman if she’s pregnant, when’s she’s due, etc.!

erin on

Nia seems like a great lady. Happy Mother’s Day to her…..and all those mamma’s and soon-to-be mamma’s reading this!

Allison on

I feel her pain!We tried to get pregnant for 3 yrs. Everyone and their mother had advice from fertility dolls to what to eat to get pregnant. All the while every where around us were pregnant women.You start to feel less of a woman.

We have looked at all of our adoption options and we are trying to adopt from foster care. It is not as easy as people think it would be. We had two failed placements last year(one went to his long lost birth father and one to a family friend)Even if DCFS has the right idea it is up to the courts. After reading Nia’s story in an adoption magazine we have chosen to up our age from 0-2 to 3-4.
She has given us the excitment we need to start again with an older child.I love that she is telling her story. Maybe it will help others on the fence of what to do and that you can have your family no matter how old the child is when you start.
Happy Mother’s Day!

noam on

i love when nia has stories on here (her mother’s day story last year was beautiful, too) and i applaud her for keeping her daughter out of the spotlight (other than broad details).

as for the constant debate on whether it is best to adopt from foster care, at birth, internationally, etc: it is an incredibly personal choice! my plan is to someday adopt a sibling group from foster care, but i don’t think my plan is anymore valid or heartfelt or better than my sister who has given birth to her children, my stepbrother who has adopted from cambodia, my stepsister who has used a surrogate, or my brother-in-law who has decided to not have any kids and just be a really awesome uncle. the path to parenthood is an individual one. what is right for one person is not going to be right for another person.

Ellen Smith on

Rebecca – I too have used that line. I can’t tell you how many times people have asked me when I was due. I am not fat, but I don’t have a flat stomach. Somehow it’s come to pass that unless you have a surfboard flat stomach you must be pregnant. The best part of it is that when I finally decided to have a child no one knew I was pregnant and we didn’t tell anyone for 4 1/2 months. And even then, people assumed after 12 1/2 years of marriage that we didn’t want kids or we had fertility issues, neither of which was true.

Anna on

Allison – I wish you much luck and success. Remember to be diligent in searching the websites that are out there and to ‘pester’ your Adoption Coordinator. They have lots of children that they’re working with, you have to keep yourself in their loop.

I speak as the voice of experience. It took 3 years for my husband and I to be matched to our daughter. That was after a couple of failed placements. It doesn’t change the heartbreak that goes with those and feeling like it’s never going to happen…but it will and it does. The system, unfortunately, moves very slowly.

We were matched with our daughter when she was 5 (we moved our age range up to 6 years old) and she has been the best gift we could ever have received. Her adoption was finalized in April 2009 (2 days after my husband’s birthday). And we tell her that she is so very lucky because she got to ‘choose’ her family. We’ve already started the process of looking for siblings for her as well, as we don’t want her to be an only child.

OH! Also check and see if there is a Foster Adoptive Parent Association in your community. It’s a great way to network with other families, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Best wishes for your family! And thank you Nia for promoting adoption through the Foster Care System!

Anna on

Wow, another great story. I applaud anyone who has so much love that they want to share it with children…biological or not. Children are a blessing and should be treated as such. I am always inspired by these touching stories.

Here’s hoping People will focus on the good out there, instead of dwelling on ‘so-called’ reality stars and attention-hungry stars in the hopes of boosting there readership.

MOMO on

Mortified? Mortified is when you get back from maternity leave and are in the elevator with a BUNCH of co workers, where someone starts TALKING to your BELLY and then says “YEAH BABIES AND I ARE GOOD LIKE THAT!” OMG! Ladies can I just tell you.. the silence in that elevator was priceless. I can laugh at it now, and tried to then, but I ran into my office, shut my door and cried like my out of belly baby!!

Mariana on

“Not to mention: having a child does not make you a mother, raising one does.”

That is so true, Allison!
And congatulations to Nia and her hubby.

Kobiyashiyat Maroo on

It is soo sad that someone who has become the adoption Day spokeswoman has written an article that barely speaks to the joy of adoption and instead exposes the deep deep pain she felt being unable to conceive.

It is her choice to keep her daughter’s name and face out of the press. But that seems antithetical to people like Katherine Heigl, and Sandra Bullock who really are out there CELEBRATING their adopted children.

I wish her daughter well. But please be more tolerant of well meaning friends, then she is.

Makenzie on

Yea for Nia and Ian for adopting out of the foster care system! I adopted my son out of foster care and he is the joy of my life. It wasn’t easy, but by far the greatest thing I’ve done. I simply tell people that I may not have gone through 13+ hours of physical labor, but I did have to endure 13 months of emotional labor. And prior to my son’s adoption, on one occasion a woman asked me when I was due. With a straight face, I answered, “Nine months from tonight.”

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