In an interview for the February 2023 issue of Red, the Firefly Lane actress, 44, recalled telling Kelley early on their relationship that her desire to start a family via adoption was a non-negotiable.
“About six months after meeting my now-husband I was, like, ‘I’d better get a few things straight now: marriage and having a family are both really important to me; starting a family with adoption is also really important to me.’ ”
“‘If those things don’t speak to you, we should part ways,'” the Grey’s Anatomy alum remembered telling Kelley. “Luckily, he was, like, ‘I’m down with that!’ ”
Adoption, Heigl explained to the British outlet, “has always been a part of my life.”
“I was born into it,” says Heigl, whose older sister Meg was adopted from South Korea before Heigl was born. “I wanted my family to look like the one I came from.”
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Heigl and Kelley met on the set of Kelley’s music video “Only You” in 2005 and tied the knot in December 2007 in Park City, Utah.
The pair were eager to become parents from the get-go. “I always thought I’d be scared, but I’m ready,” Kelley told PEOPLE ahead of their wedding. “I’m 27, and I feel I’ve done more than most people will do in a lifetime. I’m ready to settle down, start a family and build my Kelley empire.”
Their family began growing in September 2009 after adopting Naleigh, now 14, from South Korea. They grew their empire again in 2012 and 2017, respectively, with the adoption of Adalaide, now 10, and the birth of Joshua.
In her interview with Red, Heigl looked back meeting Naleigh for the first time. “The moment they handed Naleigh to me, I was her mother,” Heigl said. “I knew I would shield her with my life. It doesn’t matter if they hand a child to you from your body or off a plane; they are yours and you are theirs.”
Today, the family of five lives a quiet life on their ranch in Utah, which they moved to full-time in 2010. Relocating her family away from Hollywood has helped keep the actress and her family connected and happy, she said.
“I’ve become so dependent on it,” Heigl told the magazine. “When I’m away working, I really miss home and my bubble. My dogs, my kids and my routine keep me grounded.”
The 27 Dresses star continued: “It also gives my kids a sense of order and stability – they don’t have to wonder what movie set we’ll be going to next or whether Mummy will be there. I just feel like, in this house, everyone can take a big, deep breath.”
“That feels like a great accomplishment,” Heigl said.
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While Heigl chooses to raise her kids away from Hollywood, she is not shy when it comes to sharing her love for her family on social media.
Earlier this month, she spoke with NewBeauty about how she’s raising her daughters not to be people-pleasers.
“I do think there is this under-the-radar, unsaid, collectively understood vibe that women are meant to be ‘pleasing.’ I see it in my young daughters, and it’s just this odd, inherent social thing,” she said. “I’m certainly not teaching them to be like that, but they’re picking it up somewhere. I keep saying, ‘I need you to understand that that is not your job.’ ”