2011 was a great year for Law & Order: SVU star Mariska Hargitay. She and her husband Peter Hermann went from a family of three to a family of five when they adopted a son and a daughter.
The road to adoption was long and emotional for Hargitay and Hermann. The two, who married in 2004, share three children, a biological son, August, and two adopted children, Amaya and Andrew. And while Hargitay says that adoption is a “wonderful thing,” the process can also be heartbreaking.
As Mariska Hargitay told Good Housekeeping, their first attempt to adopt fell through last minute. “I’m not gonna lie,” she said. “There were wrenching moments. I say to everybody, ‘Adoption is not for the faint of heart.'”
The SVU star said she’d always wanted a big family. And after giving birth to her son at 42, she knew she wanted to fulfill that dream. She said that she didn’t know if she’d have another biological child at first, but deep down, she knew that adoption would be a part of their plan.
Hargitay went on to explain that her own mother died when she was only three years old, and her father’s third wife became her mother “in every sense of the word.” So, she understood the bond that could come from an adoptive parent. “I was very fortunate to have a maternal figure in my life,” she said.
So, the couple decided to move forward with the adoption process in 2010.
Mariska Hargitay said that their family suffered some “false starts” along the way. “There were several cases that didn’t work out. A lot of different kinds of complications. Then, after disappointments, came the big hope — which ended up being dashed,” she recalled. “But while it may be ironic, the hardest disappointment was also the greatest moment, in terms of what it means to help build a family.”
Mariska Hargitay’s Road to Adoption
Before taking home Amaya, the couple met a young woman who lived just outside of New York City. The woman was pregnant with a girl, and Hargitay was thrilled. She’d always wanted a daughter. Then she met the mother. “I thought she was just an incredible person, so smart and bright.”
Hargitay and her Husband moved forward with a closed adoption, meaning the biological mother agreed to give up her parental rights and have no future contact with the child. The mother immediately chose Hargitay’s family.
“She didn’t even meet anyone else; she only met me,” she said. But Hargitay made it clear that the mother did not choose her because she was famous. She chose her because of her “love and sincerity.”
But that adoption ended in heartache after she took the newborn home. The couple shared two days with “this little angel.” But in the end, the birth mother changed her mind. Mariska Hargitay had no choice but to give her daughter back.
“But, this is what I’ve come to understand about life: 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.”
Shortly after, Hagitay connected with another woman. “She was very powerful, soulful, and thoughtful. The whole thing was kind of…storybook. It was almost too good to be true.”
After losing her first daughter, she was rightfully worried about another adoption. But the birth mother assured Hargitay that she knew she was making the right choice.
Mariska Hargitay was honored by “gloving up” during the delivery of her daughter Amaya. As Hargitay said in her interview, “there are no mistakes.” Her story was exactly as it was meant to be.