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Katherine Heigl: Adalaide’s Adoption Was ‘Serendipitous’

12/21/2012 at 04:00 PM ET

When Katherine Heigl announced her family had welcomed a second daughter into their home, fans were shocked — and, apparently, so was husband Josh Kelley.

Interested in giving daughter Naleigh, 4, a sibling, the actress and the singer began the adoption process with their sights set on Korea, only to eventually learn international adoptions were becoming increasingly difficult.

“Korea had gotten very hard to adopt from and China had a very long waiting list. I was kind of, ‘Tick, tick, tick. Any day now!’” Heigl, 34, told Jay Leno Thursday.

That’s when the couple began researching the idea of a domestic adoption and received quite the surprise much sooner than expected. “My lawyer called and said, ‘There’s a birth mother and she’s due in four weeks. She’s all yours if you want her!’” she recalls.

Katherine Heigl Adalaide Adoption Was Serendipitous
Paul Drinkwater/NBC


“So I had to talk Josh into that one. He thought it was going to be a few years and that we were going to end up with more a 9 or 10-month-old. He looked at me and said, ‘You’re telling me in a month we’re going to have a newborn?’”

Reassuring Kelley that it would all work out, the mom-of-two admits the arrival of Adalaide Marie Hope, now 7 months, couldn’t have come at a better point in their lives.

“I said, ‘Yeah, it’s perfect timing … we’re both here, we’re not working, this is great [because] we can spend time with her,’” she explains. “And it actually has been beautifully serendipitous and graceful because we’ve gotten to spend all this wonderful time with her.”

Recently, the family of four — who reside full-time in Utah — continued Heigl’s childhood holiday traditions of hitting the snowy slopes with their skis. But when Kelley had the task of taking Naleigh to her first class, it didn’t take long for her parents to realize some traditions just don’t die.

“All my siblings would go off and ski and [my parents] sent me to ski school, but every day I would come home with a note pinned to my jacket that just said, ‘Katie did not enjoy her day at ski school,’” Heigl shares, adding she would “cry and cry” during the ski session.

“Josh took Naleigh … and I was pretty sure I was going to get a very similar note — I did. She was not into it at all, hysterical in fact.”

As for the doting dad? He was equally beside himself. “Josh is driving home on the phone with me, ‘I’m just so disappointed she won’t even try,’” the actress shares. “And I said, ‘Josh, she’s four … she’ll get it! She’ll get the hang of it.’”

Unfortunately for Kelley, along with the arrival of winter weather comes a few sneezes, sniffles and colds as well.

“Adalaide had a little head cold for about a week and then Josh started thinking he was getting sick. He makes this noise when he thinks he is getting a stuffy nose,” Heigl shares, before imitating the sound.

“I’m dead asleep in the middle of the night, that’s what I hear and I wake up to it. I said to him the next day, ‘What’s the problem Josh?’”

When her husband of almost five years — they celebrate their anniversary Sunday — admitted he couldn’t breathe, she encouraged him to look to the couple’s baby girl for a bit of inspiration.

“I said, ‘Everybody in this world gets head colds. Your baby is handling it better than you are! I think you’re going to survive this,’” she says with a laugh. “But, all in all, 90 percent of him is amazing.”

– Anya Leon

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Showing 48 comments

Elizabeth on

Ugh, sick husbands are the WORST. Mine is more annoying than all three of the kids combined. Such a baby. I feel ya, Katherine.

NW Mama on

I was told this ….

“There are only women and children in this world”

LOL

Hea on

Haha, I can just imagine that sound.

Eva Rey on

My husband turns into a big, cranky baby when he’s sick.

Anonymous on

So happy she turned to Domestic adoption – there ae so many babies here in the USA that need loving, stable homes. There is a myth that domestic adoption costs so much more then International but often that is not the case. My oldest’s adoption cost less then my friend’s baby from Vietnam and my second cost about the same.

kim on

wow. what a concept! a domestic adoption! i wish more people would adopt children in need of homes here AT home before going overseas.

Willa on

A lot of people adopt internationally because it can be less expensive and a shorter wait time. Katherine was obviously quite lucky. I know a couple of who adopting domestically and have been in the process of doing so for three years already.

Jenna on

I am going through it now Elizabeth. I have a sick 2 year-old and a sick husband. My husband is making noises and complaining far more than my son. Day one and it is already old! :)

Guest on

We adopted domestically, twice–within a year, both newborns. If you aren’t picky about what race or circumstances surrounding the conception or birth–it can happen very quickly! There are lot of bi-racial newborns who need parents, infants exposed to drugs or alcohol in the womb, and even very young sibling groups (my friends got a 6 mos old and 18 mos brothers last week) available. Open your hearts and love a US child who needs a home. It’s thing we ever did!!

Kat on

That was meant to be…

jessica on

LOL. I love it. So true!

Rachel on

Seriously… does anyone think those who adopt from overseas go into that decision lightly? Adoption has changed greatly over the years. For my aunt and uncle who adopted my cousin from Korea 18 years ago, domestic adoption wasn’t a choice. The wait list for a baby in the US at that point was 3-5 years and they were both at an age where they could not wait and risk an adoption falling through.

There is also the difference between domestic and national adoptions when it comes to never having to worry about a biological parent coming back into the picture and trying to seek rights of the child they gave up for adoption. This happened to a family my aunt and uncle knew before they made their decision to adopt overseas. That couple’s son (adopted as a newborn) was 10 months old. And they lost custody of him to his birthmom when she decided after those 10 months that she’d made a mistake. :(

I know of others who choose to adopt special needs children overseas through organizations like Reece’s Rainbow because they know and have seen what life for those children is like. They are treated in those countries as if they have zero worth because those countries believe they aren’t worth anything.

I think the point I’m trying to make is that NO child, born in the US or otherwise, deserves to live a life without a family. From where a couple chooses to adopt and why is no one’s business but their own. To say domestic adoption is better than international is to say children like Naleigh and my cousin shouldn’t have been given the lives they were. Well that’s not fair either.

MamaOf2 on

Boy, is that saying ever correct! Just a couple hours ago, I told my husband (who was having a tantrum), “I’m busy taking care of our 3-year-olds. I don’t have time for another child. Grow up.”

Marky on

Like Katherine and Josh, we adopted from Korea, and also domestically. When we adopted from Korea, we were so terrified that we would have a situation where the bio mother would change her mind, and we would lose the child. Also, there were some things that happened that caused us to see that Korea was where we were to adopt from. We have never looked back and she has been an amazing addition to our family. When we adopted our son, the mother actually asked us to adopt him, and there was never a question of losing him, or having the adoption fall through.

I think that’s what happens to lots of couples; that fear of losing the child after they have become attached. We have friends that has happened to, and it was absolutely devastating. They still don’t have another child 2 years later, and they are wonderful people who would be incredible parents. They have gone through the system, and have even been open to a disabled child, let alone any of the things “Guest” has suggested. One of them is even adopted, so they bring that knowledge to the table, as well. If they had gone international, they would already have a child……

I really enjoy hearing about Katherine and Josh’s experience; they really seem to be a great couple and their children are adorable!

JT on

If you’re open to newborns who are minorities or multi-racial the wait is typically very short. Her experience with domestic adoption is actually very typical when race is not an issue. Sadly, most people are only interested in white babies.

Sandy on

When I’m sick I have to continue with everything! Husband sick- the world has to stop- poor whiney baby- wait on him and cater to his every need!

Megan on

I’m so happy my husband doesn’t complain when he’s sick! The only time I knew he was super sick was when his chills shook the whole bed. He could be dying and I’d never know!

chittisterchildren on

I have no problem with people who adopt internationally, even though my husband and I adopted domestically (twice). I do have a problem with the many myths that surround adoption.

First, private domestic adoption and international adoption cost about the same, on average. However, the real cost depends on the country.

Second, international adoption does not mean a shorter wait time. The wait time for China right now is about 6 years. Russia just voted to ban adoptions from the US entirely. Ethiopia’s wait time has been extended. Ethics concerns plague international adoptions, especially in countries that aren’t part of the Hague treaty.

Third, in private, domestic adoptions, *the birth parents cannot come back months later and take back their children*! Most states have relatively short revocation periods – periods in which birth parents can revoke their consent to the adoption. It ranges from no revocation period to 180 days (RI, which is by far the longest). In most states, it’s about 10-30 days. Cases in which birth parents “come back” are few and far between. The birth parents must prove coercion or fraud to overturn an adoption.

Fourth, domestic adoption greatly increases your chances of having an open adoption, which research is beginning to show is better for the children.

Now, foster care has a completely different set of rules, and birth parents can be given numerous chances to reunify with their children.

Our wait for our son was 8 months. Our wait for our daughter was 19 months. The average wait for domestic private adoption is about 1 year. The average wait for international adoption is about 3 years, I believe, but varies according to country.

Marky on

Chitterschildren, I have KNOWN people who “lost” their children in the midst of the adoption, and one was to the grandparents who had already given up the little boy once “because it was just too much”, yet they never backed out of the picture and kept coming back and were given the right to parent the child, against the mother’s wishes. Granted, that is not common, but if you saw that happen to a friend, how enthusiastic would you be to take that chance?

I have done both types of adoption, so I don’t favor one over the other, but I understand why people are afraid. The laws have been passed in our state which state the biological mother has 7 days to change her mind. In the meantime, the adopting family may have already had the child placed with them, and to have waited for possibly years to have a child, then have the child taken away……it is absolutely devastating.

It is not something that never happens; I knew the first time we adopted, I would have found it unbearable to have lost custody after having cared for the child for 4 months (our state at that time had a 6 month waiting period). The second time, we had fostered that child for several years, and the bio mother made the decision on her own, and relinquished him directly to us.

The truth is both types of adoption have their merits, and none of us have the right to judge how someone else builds their family or whether it is better or worse. Too often these days, people take the attitude that their choice is the best choice, and if others just got the point– they would agree. That’s simply not true. People don’t all adopt for the same reason, and not under the same circumstances, and they have good reasons for doing what they do.

What has happened that makes us believe we have the right to make such personal choices for other people?

Anonymous on

Okay, after reading these comments, I see that some of you have done a very good job of debunking some of the myths about domestic adoption here in the U.S. However, there is one big one that nobody has called out yet, and that is that there are lots of babies waiting to be adopted here in the U.S.

That is simply not true. There are far more parents waiting to adopt here than there are babies avaliable. Also, black women often won’t place their children with white couples. They want their children brought up by parents that share their skin color. So it’s hardly as simple as being open to adopting a non-white child!

And finally, it takes a very special person to raise a child with disabilites. If you can handle bringing one into your home, wonderful! But don’t knock people that can’t!

Anonymous on

Rachel- Excellent comment! I have read about how orphanages in other countries treat children with disabilites, and it’s horrifying! In Romania, for example, disabled babies are basically thrown in cribs and left to lie there with only the occasional bottle or diaper change.

Even more horrifying, this practice doesn’t stop once they reach the toddler and preschool years (which, not surprisingly, most of them don’t).

That being said, I think it’s important to note that Naleigh herself had a disability when she was adopted. She had a heart defect (a hole in her heart, if I’m remembering correctly), which she had to have open heart surgery to correct.

Anna on

I can’t stand it when people insult international adoptions. Children are children, and there are kids everywhere that need love and attention. Yes, it would be incredible if every child in the US that needed a home was adopted. But it would also be incredible if every child in the world that needed a home was adopted. I applaud anyone who adopts a child, no matter where that child is born.

Hea on

Guest wrote “If you aren’t picky about what race or circumstances surrounding the conception or birth–it can happen very quickly!”

People are picky about circumstances sourrounding conception? In what way? :-O

JM on

it’s nice to know that for some people US children are so much more important than children born elsewhere in the world. you know, because all children choose exactly where they are born, it’s their own fault to be born into poverty striken, malaria ridden countries, they should have just become good American children then these people would happily adopt them.

i must have missed the UNICEF world ranking of which children are more important based on their nationality.

Really? on

“Most people are only interested in white babies”. That statement is so generalized. I think that white families are the 95% of people who go to adoption as a means to have children. I have never known or seen a African American couple (even in the celebrity world) who had adopted a white child. Maybe if other cultures were open for adoption children of that race would be more likely to be adopted. It’s not anyone’s place to judge a white family because they prefer a white child. There are many reasons a multiracial family does not suit everyone. It works for some it doesn’t for all.

Emme on

I have worked many years in child welfare and have also volunteered with international child welfare organizations. I have seen the heartbreak of foster kids who no one wants, but I have also seen what it is like for children in many other countries, the ones Americans often adopt from. Yes, there are plenty of needy children here is the US, although that usually does not include the infants that people adopt, but the kids in foster care most people ignore. There are plenty of people who want babies.

The situation though for children who age out of foster care in the US, while definitely not good, is far, FAR better than the situation for children oversees. They have many chances and support that do not exist oversees, both in foster care and when they age out.

So while there are needy children everywhere, some children are FAR more needy. That’s why I adopted internationally.

Isabel on

Kim, your ignorance is showing. Also, do you really think a child adopted domestically is any more important than one adopted internationally?

Charli on

Sick husband or sick boyfriend= big baby. lol

Abbie on

I don’t understand what gives anyone the right to judge another person for adopting. They are giving a child born into this world a home that otherwise may not have one. Who cares where the child is adopted from? Why are people so quick to judge.

Renee on

I am just glad that the babies get to go to people who want them! Period! Every child deserves love.

Anonymous on

I can’t believe there is an adoption battle going on here – domestic vs international. It doesn’t seem like the people commenting on domestic adoption are trying to say it’s ‘better’ but there are people right away jumping up and making critical comments. How about this – adoption is a WONDERFUL experience no matter WHERE you adopt your little angel from. As an adoptive parent of two children I feel as though my babies were born to be part of our family and it doesn’t matter if they are from the USA, China or even Mars; they are our babies and we love love love them!!!

dawn9476 on

I hate that people criticize that she adopted from South Korea. The reason she adopted from there was because she has a sister that her parents adopted from there.

Lisa on

Anonymous- your comment “And finally, it takes a very special person to raise a child with disabilites. If you can handle bringing one into your home, wonderful! But don’t knock people that can’t!” is extremely disrespectful!

I have two children with special needs. It doesn’t take a “very special” person to raise them and it isn’t a situation that can or can not be “handled”, it’s called unconditional love. If you don’t have that, you’re not fit to parent ANY child.

Nidia on

Actually adopting from Canada and USA is just as easy. Majority of white people want white kids thats why it takes longer to adopt from America. There is so many minorties children for adoption not enough white children lets be real people. My white parents told me this from their own mouth because their adopted my little sister 14.5 years ago from America and before that adopted 3 sibling from Haiti and I am one of the siblings. We are all black children that is why it didn’t take as long please be real this is the truth.

Jennifer on

I was wondering if she has ever spoken about why she chose to adopt instead of having biological children. I am not in any way criticizing her decision – I’m just curious if she can’t have biological kids or if she just really wanted to adopt. Don’t know if she has ever spoken out about that. Congrats to her lovely family!

Anonymous on

Beautifully stated! Thank you!

liarlairpantsonfire on

how is one child more deserving than another??? makes zero sense. adoption is a wonderful way to create or add to a family, no matter what country the individuals come from.

Anonymous on

Jennifer- I don’t think it’s an “instead of” thing for her. In an interview about a year ago, she stated that she’s open to having biological children but wanted to adopt first.

She has also said that one reason she’s so big on adoption is because she has a sister that, like Naleigh, was adopted from Korea.

Anonymous on

Lisa- I was simply stating the truth. It takes more than just love to raise a special needs child. Some couples, for example, may not be able afford all the medical expenses and such that can come with special needs, while others may not be able to handle it emotionally.

And before you say that I don’t care, that I’m thoughtless, cold, etc., I have special needs myself and know several others who do. Therefore, I think I know just a little bit about what goes into raising a special needs child! ;)

Cindy on

You’re 100 percent right!

Meg on

Actually, the wait to adopt from China is only 6 years, for healthy, infant girls. If you are willing to adopt a boy, it is much faster, and they have two programs. The non-special needs IS taking about 6 years now. However, the special needs program is very quick. We are about to bring home our THIRD child from China in less than 2 years. Special needs vary from minor to major, from birthmarks, or a club foot, to serious chronic issues. You choose the needs you are open to.

At any given time about 2000 children are paper ready for adoption and waiting on the China Special needs list. Every month more are added. If you want to adopt an infant baby girl with a very minor need, it will probably take a year and a half. If you are open to more needs, and/or will adopt a boy, you could probably be matched right away. ALL children deserve families, and no child deserves one more than any other.

Emily on

Anna, I agree with every word!

Rachel on

I love all the comments that say “white couples are only open to adopting white babies”… since when? Obviously this is not why people turn from domestic adoption to international adoption in AFRICA and KOREA and CHINA… because last I checked those babies aren’t “white”…

Hea on

I don’t have the experience that “white people” only want to adopt “white kids”. In my country (Sweden) there are slim to none domestic adoptions yearly. Most people who adopt do so from Asia, Africa, South America, Russia or Latvia as far as I know. Most of those kids are not “white” so I don’t see this being the truth everywhere.

Rene on

She looks really nice in this interview. I love the pleated skirt with the glitter top. She looks real good in this dress. She should embrace this look and try it out with other pieces of clothing.

Annie on

@ Marky – First, it’s “birth” mother, not, as you said, “bio” mother. Second, birth mothers legally cannot “come back” for a child once an adoption is finalized. A BM can try DURING the process for varying times depending on the state but as soon as an adoption is finalized the child is the adoptive family’s. UGH!! People really need to start giving birth mothers more respect.

Rachel on

Annie — Depending upon where you live, finalizing an adoption can take a while. In Kentucky, where I live, it typically takes approximately a year to finalize an adoption (yes it can be shorter, it can also be longer depending on the adoption agency, circumstances, etc…). But this means that at any point during that time the birth mother can decide she doesn’t want to proceed with the adoption afterall. This is what happened to my aunt and uncle’s friends who lost their “son” after 10 months in their home. It was agonizing. Does it happen often? Absolutely not… but I’m sure you could see where it would turn a couple onto international adoption after seeing it happen to their friends. In the case of children who are foster to adopt, it of course takes even longer and there are no guarantees you will ever be able to adopt unless the biological parents/grandparents or whoever is fighting to keep the child eventually give up or lose custody. I’ve also known couples who’ve fostered children for years, hoping to eventually adopt them and then have it not work out. Of course you know this going into the foster system.

Nidia on

Really?
“Most people are only interested in white babies”. That statement is so generalized. I think that white families are the 95% of people who go to adoption as a means to have children. I have never known or seen a African American couple (even in the celebrity world) who had adopted a white child. Maybe if other cultures were open for adoption children of that race would be more likely to be adopted. It’s not anyone’s place to judge a white family because they prefer a white child. There are many reasons a multiracial family does not suit everyone. It works for some it doesn’t for all.”

It doesn’t work for majority because white people want white looking children that is the truth stop kipping around the question. Be real about things and be truthful. Yes I have seen blacks adopt white children and many times it is foster white children.Thise has been on the news and on magazines look it up “black people adopting white children” Whites like you are so blind and you never heard of it I have because I am adopted by a white women and men that is mixed with native indian. I am adopted I think I should know are you adopted? By the way I have never heard or saw ASIANS ADOPTING WHITE CHILDREN so why don’t you get on ASIANS cases for not adopting WHITE CHILDREN? It only suits you when it is black people issue right.

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