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Katherine Heigl always knew she’d adopt

In a recent interview with Scholastic Parent & Child Magazine, Katherine Heigl talked about how growing up with an adopted sister led the Grey’s Anatomy star to adopt a child of her own.

Katherine Heigl and adopted daughter Naleigh

Reasons for adopting

Though many women choose to adopt due to fertility issues, that’s not always the case. Couples decide to adopt for a variety of reasons. Growing up with a sister who was adopted, Katherine Heigl always planned on adopting. Heigl and her husband, musician Josh Kelley, adopted their daughter Naleigh from Korea in 2009.

“My sister Meg is Korean and my parents adopted her three years before I was born,” Heigl told the magazine. “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.”


Adoptive parents know that bonding comes in a variety of forms, and often takes more time than you’d expect. Heigl explains how she and her husband bonded with Naleigh in different ways.

“I watched Josh, and it was so effortless for him,” recalls Heigl. “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.”

Their young daughter also bonds with her dad through music. “He takes her to his studio behind our house. Naleigh likes to play the drums and the harmonica,” says Heigl.

Read about helping your adopted child bond to you >>

What’s in a name

Heigl and her hubby wanted to name their daughter with some sort of family significance. They decided to fuse the names of Heigl’s mother and sister — Nancy and Leigh.

Read about unique and interesting baby names >>

Special needs

Though sometimes the adoption process can take years, for Heigl things came together much more quickly, and it wasn’t about money. One reason her adoption process was shorter than expected is because Naleigh has special needs.

“She is a special needs baby and because of that it all moved so much faster. They wanted to get her to us as quickly as possible,” Heigl explained to Access Hollywood back in 2009.

Before accepting the placement, Heigl was told Naleigh had a heart condition that could be corrected through surgery. As fate would have it, someone in their family could provide information on Naleigh’s condition.

“We were not going to say no. Whatever we’re walking into we’re walking into. The beauty is that Josh’s father is a heart surgeon, and we were able to call him immediately and tell him about the condition… For Naleigh, her condition once corrected is corrected. She’s perfectly healthy,” Heigl told Scholastic Parent & Child Magazine.

Read about finding a pediatrician for your internationally adopted child >>

No one knows what the future holds for Heigl and her family. Maybe she’ll adopt again from Korea, maybe the couple will have a biological child, or maybe they’ll decide to adopt again through a different route. Whatever the case, we wish the family well!

More about adoption

Adoption — Where do you start?
Creating a family by birth and adoption
Preparing to bring home your adopted child

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