Friday, November 16, 2012

Profiles in Adoption: Mariska Hargitay

"Adoption Is Not for the Faint of Heart"

As part of National Adoption Month, I decided to have profiles of different people who have adopted.

The first is Mariska Hargitay, best known for her Emmy-winning role as Detective Olivia Benson on NBC's Law & Order: SVU.

In the span of 6 months last year, she and her husband Peter Hermann, adopted two children: Amaya Josephine, now 13 months old, and Andrew Nicolas, 9 months.  She spoke to Good Housekeeping about how her biological son, August, thought the adoption was all his idea.

"He said, 'I want a baby sister,' and Amaya came," Hargitay said, "Then he said, 'I want a baby brother,' and Andrew came."

As easy as she makes that sound, the adoptions weren't.  She describes the process, at times, as being "heartbreaking."

"I'm not gonna' lie," she admitted, "There were wrenching moments.  I say to everybody, 'Adoption is not for the faint of heart'."

Mariska and her husband started the adoption process 2 years ago, meeting with an adoption lawyer, going through the process of the home study, and all that's involved with beginning an adoption.  There would be two failed attempts before they finally found someone near New York City who wanted to put her baby up for adoption.  They met the woman, finalized the adoption plan, were present in the delivery room when the baby was born, named the infant, had her for 2 days when the birth mother changed her mind.

"It was nothing short of devastating," Hargitay explained, "But . . .it was probably the greatest, happiest ending.  I mean, it was so painful for us, but it was deeply joyful and deeply right for her."

Then, just over a year ago, they connected with the woman who gave birth to Amaya.  Hargitay even helped deliver the baby girl.  Of that moment, she said, "That moment was profound.  That was one of the most meaningful moments I've ever had in my life."

Though they had not planned on adopting another child, not even a year later, Mariska and Peter got a call about a boy who was born prematurely and was waiting to be adopted.  She described the decision to adopt him as a "no-brainer."  "It was like a miracle," she said, "And I don't use that word lightly.  I've never made a bigger decision so quickly.  My life is so blessed."

Despite Andrews continuing to struggle with health issues, Mariska Hargitay said she wouldn't change a thing.  "Adoption is a bumpy ride - very bumpy," she noted, "But it was worth the fight."

In an interview with The Today Show, Hargitay told Ann Curry, "I love talking about adoption because I think it's the greatest thing on the planet.  I think any time you embrace life so fully, so heartily, there are highs and there are lows . . . the process takes you on a ride.  And the end of it is better than any pot of gold that you can imagine.  There's a child."

The original interview with Mariska Hargitay in Good Housekeeping was in the April 4, 2012 issue.  It was done by Liz Raftery.

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