Mariska and Peter Hermann had to go through the vetting process multiple times before finding their two younger kids.
As a woman, there is still a lot that we likely don't know about our bodies. And, most of what we know, is usually because of our lived experiences. While science does help us understand things about ourselves only we know what's best for us. Mariska Hargitay, 57, is a mother of three kids and is happily married, but the path to motherhood wasn't completely peaceful for her.
The 57-year-old Law & Order: SVU actress lost her mother, Jayne Mansfield, when she was only 3 years old. However, she grew up in a big family, just like her husband, Peter Hermann, of 17 years. Hargitay found love late in her life, and by the time she married Hermann, she was already 40. The couple welcomed their first child, August Miklos Friedrich Hermann, when she was 42, an age at which pregnancies are considered high risk.
Her biological son came into the world via an emergency C-section on June 28, 2006. "Nobody wanted to be pregnant more than me. From the minute I found out, I was wearing full-on maternity pants," she said, as per People. "My stomach was totally flat, mind you, but I was just so excited," she said back then. The actress had gestational diabetes coupled with work stress.
"First time pregnant, you’re like, I gotta eat more! I have to make sure he has enough of every single food group! I did get into eating too much. This pregnancy was really hard for me at the end. I wasn’t mobile. Next time, I want to keep myself as strong as possible, so everything will go easier for me," she said.
After the delivery, she made some changes to her diet and started taking her workouts seriously. However, eventually, they had to go for the adoption route. "I'm not gonna lie," she told GoodHousekeeping. "There were wrenching moments. I say to everybody, 'Adoption is not for the faint of heart.'"
Her son, her husband, and she wanted a "big family" since both of them come from that. "Plus, we just had so much love to give," she explained. "I was really letting the chips fall as they might, because I do think so much is up to God. I always said, 'I don't know how this is going to end up. I don't know if I'm going to get pregnant and have twins,'" she said. "'If somebody's going to leave a baby on my doorstep.' But I really did think that down the line, Peter and I would adopt a child. That was always part of the plan," she added.
Even as a young child, she realized that a mom isn't necessarily someone who is biologically connected to you. Her father, Mickey Hargitay, and his third wife, Ellen Siano Hargitay, raised her after Mansfield's death. "I called her Mom. She really claimed us. She never had biological kids of her own, and to this day we are her kids. So we were blessed that she really embraced us and loved us so quickly. And I was very fortunate to have a maternal figure in my life after such a horrific accident," Hargitay said.
Around 2010, she started her adoption journey, but it still took a long time. "There were several cases that didn't work out. A lot of different kinds of complications. Then, after many disappointments, came the big hope — which ended up being dashed. "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."
She had found the perfect person, who was "smart and bright," from whom she could adopt. However, the mother changed her mind at the last moment. "It was nothing short of devastating," Hargitay recalled.
She is not bitter about that. "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. I felt honored to be part of the process. It was a profound blessing to have been part of the making of a union; that God had picked me," she said.
Eventually, almost a year later, they found their baby, Amaya. The birth mother is African-American, but she wasn't bothered that a white couple was going to adopt her child. Hargitay was present in the delivery room when the baby came. Just a little over a year later, they brought home their boy, Andrew, named after a friend who had passed away days before the child was born.
"It was like...a miracle. And I don't use that word lightly. I've never made a bigger decision so quickly. The whole thing happened in a total of two days," she said.
Cover image source: Getty Images | Photo by (L)Gary Gershoff (R) Nicholas Hunt