Charlize Theron is the proud mom of two adopted African-American girls, Jackson and August. Theron, in all her icy beauty, confidence, and verified action-star status, has never felt much need to explain her family planning choices to the public. But when she does offer rare insight into how and when she decided to become a mom, it’s clear this A-list actress has a soft side that’s as mushy as her tough persona is strong. Even so, when Diane von Furstenberg asked about the moment the star knew she wanted to adopt over having biological kids, we weren’t prepared for Theron’s sweet answer.
Von Furstenberg chatted with Theron for the finale of her podcast InCharge with DVF, and asked the star when she decided she wanted to become a mother. As it turns out, she may as well have asked Theron when she decided she wanted to adopt, because her answers are one and the same.
“I’m an only child, I didn’t have any siblings,” Theron explains of her childhood. “And my mom has a letter that I wrote her when I was 8 years old, and in the letter I ask her if we could for Christmas go to an orphanage to adopt a brother or sister for me.”
When Theron pursued adoption in earnest as an adult, her mother reminded her of that letter — and of her lifelong dream of bringing an adopted child home.
“My mom, when I went through my first adoption, actually showed me the letter,” Theron recalled. “I was connected to the idea of having a family through adoption when I was 8 years old. She’s like, you never asked me to have another baby. You never asked me to have a little brother or sister for you. You just immediately went to adoption.”
For Theron, adoption wasn’t just the achievement of a lifelong goal (though that’s pretty great too!). Her world travels have shown her the heartbreaking reality of what becoming a mother can look like, and how little choice is often involved in the matter.
“That whole process was incredibly empowering for me as a woman,” Theron told van Furstenberg of adoption. “The fact that I got to choose when I wanted to be a mom…I travel a lot and I see a lot of young girls not have that choice. There is a great power in choosing to be a mother and then doing it when your body, your mind and everything is celebrating all of that.”
Like Theron, we strongly believe every woman should have that choice, and our hearts hurt knowing that many don’t. But Theron emphasizing the privilege of adoption makes an important point in US culture that has often treated adoption as a second choice to having biological kids. For Theron, adoption was never Plan B — and those are stories we should be hearing too.
Click here to see all the celebrities who have adopted children.