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Katherine Heigl Opens Up About Adopting Naleigh

Posted Saturday January 21, 2012 9:07 PM GMT

Hoping to encourage others by sharing her joyous adoption experience, Katherine Heigl covers the February 2012 issue of Scholastic's Parent & Child magazine.

The 33-year-old actress is featured in a column titled 'Paying Love Forward' in which she opens up about her and husband Josh Kelley's shared journey of adopting their 3-year-old daughter Naleigh.

Highlights from Miss Heigl's touching interview are as follows. For more, be sure to pay a visit to Parent & Child!

On how she and her husband (musician Josh Kelley) decided to adopt:
"Josh and I started talking about it before we were even engaged. My sister Meg is Korean, and my parents adopted her three years before I was born. I wanted my own family to resemble the one I came from, so I always knew I wanted to adopt from Korea. We have talked about having biological children as well, but we decided to adopt first. I just wanted to be a mom. So however we do that, it’s fine with me. I’d like to adopt again."

On the experience of meeting Naleigh for the first time:
"She felt really comfortable with Josh and they bonded quickly. It was harder for me. Our social worker told us that it’s pretty typical for kids to react differently to their new mother. It was a struggle for me because all I wanted to do was bond with her. But it takes time for a child to trust this new situation and to trust you. My advice is don’t be discouraged. The reward is so great."

On what helped her and Naleigh bond:
"I had to embrace who I am as a parent. I watched Josh, and it was so effortless for him. I call him Disneyland Dad — he’ll get on the floor and roll around and make her laugh. That wasn’t really me. So I felt like, oh gosh, I’m not the kind of parent she prefers. Then I realized — I’m the cuddler. I’m the one she comes to if she’s hurt. And I have a ritual for putting her to bed. She has one blankie that goes over her, one that goes by her face, and one that she holds. It’s our little thing."

On how the whole adoption process worked:
"They call you to give you this referral number to call about the child. When they called us, I was working in Atlanta with Ashton Kutcher, and Josh was there. He visits me generally for a couple of days between tour dates. It was a really crazy time. You’re so amped up, you’re so excited, you’re so impatient — you know there’s a child out there waiting for you, and you just want to get your hands on her."

Photo Credit: Jenny Gage and Tom Betterton for Parent & Child