On Monday, Bullock sat down with the Today co-host to promote her new film, Ocean’s 8, and talked about becoming a mother to son Louis, 8, and daughter Laila, 5, whom the actress adopted in 2010 and 2015, respectively. “So my priorities are my kids, my kids, my kids. My family. My family. That’s it,” the 53-year-old actress said.
Bullock said that in her early 40s, she doubted that motherhood would happen for her. However, in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, she said, “I knew. Like, just something told me that my child was there [in New Orleans]. It was weird. It was very, very weird.”
“Was it a gut feeling or a God feeling?” asked Kotb, to which Bullock answered, “I think they’re one and the same.”
Bullock also described meeting her son for the first time. “But then I looked at (Louis), and I just said, ‘Oh, there you are.’ It’s like he had always been there. It’s like he fit in the crook of my arm. He looked me in the eyes, and he was just — he was wise. My child was wise. The beautiful thing that I was constantly told was: ‘The perfect child will find you. You will find your child.’”
The news anchor got it — in 2017, at age 52, Kotb adopted her daughter, Haley Joy, who was then 1 year old, inspired both by Bullock and by a photo of a young Syrian boy that had gone viral as the face of the war in Syria. “And I cried and I said, ‘You know what? If I need one more sign…”
Fellow celebrities have expressed comparable feelings about their adopted children. In a 2017 interview with Vanity Fair, Angelina Jolie described meeting her adopted son Maddox, now 16, in a Cambodian orphanage. While touring a room full of children, Jolie said she “didn’t feel a connection with any of them” until she reached Maddox, who was lying in a box. Upon making eye contact with her soon-to-be child, she said, “I cried and cried.”
“Some adoptive parents feel that parenthood was fate because they’re searching for evidence of their bond with a child,” Katie Naftzger, a psychotherapist and author of Parenting in the Eye of the Storm: The Adoptive Parent’s Guide to Navigating the Teen Years, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Adoptive parents have a different journey than biological parents, so meeting their children for the first time can feel like love at first sight, almost like a religious or miraculous experience.”
That doesn’t always mean that adoptive parents take a tougher road than other parents — infertility, single parenting, or waiting to conceive can be universal factors. After all, a parent is a parent, no matter how it happened.
As Bullock told InStyle in May: “…Let’s all just refer to these kids as ‘our kids.’ Don’t say ‘my adopted child.’ No one calls their kid their ‘IVF child’ or their ‘Oh, s***, I went to a bar and got knocked-up child.’ Let just say ‘our children.’”