Katherine Heigl on bonding with Naleigh: “Her rejection almost broke my heart”

katherine heigl

If you’d told me a year ago that I’d actually enjoy reading what I’ll fondly refer to as “Deep Thoughts by Katherine Heigl,” I’d have repeatedly laughed in your face. It’s true though — Katherine’s opinions on working outside the home as well as her hatred of “Dance Moms” and her admission that marriage is difficult have endeared me towards the presumed ice queen of sorts. Now Katherine has spoken about the difficulty of attempting to bond with her child, Naleigh. Of course, Katherine and husband Josh adopted Naleigh when she was quite nearly a year old, so it wasn’t an instant process:

When Katherine Heigl and husband Josh Kelley adopted 10-month-old Naleigh from Korea in 2009, the new mom expected the mother-daughter bond to be strong and immediate.

Not so, the actress admits in an interview with German weekly newspaper, Bild am Sonntag. “People are always talking about the strong bond between mother and daughter, this magical connection — but we didn’t have that,” Heigl says.

She described the early days with Naleigh as “the hardest time in my life. … I fought incredibly hard for my daughter to accept me as mother. Her rejection almost broke my heart.”

Heigl found the rejection so oppressive that she threw herself into her work which, she admits, “made the already difficult process of getting closer take even longer. … When I realized that, I immediately cut back on work.”

That’s when she left “Grey’s Anatomy.”

The child did bond with Kelley, which made Heigl wonder if she might be the problem. “At first I blamed myself and thought I was a bad mother. It took a while before I could admit to myself that the lack of trust had nothing to do with me,” she says.

Now Heigl and her daughter have a tight bond. So tight that Heigl is unafraid to travel to South Korea with her now 4-year-old daughter. “I’d like to fly to South Korea with the family,” she says, “to show her the country that she comes from.”

[From People]

Until now, most people assume that Katherine left “Grey’s Anatomy” merely because she thought she was just too good for television. Instead, Katherine had a damn good reason for doing so. Now she can focus on movies, where her schedule is a little bit kinder than a weekly drama and permits for more Naleigh time. Or at least, she could do so until recently before One for the Money crashed at the box office. Time for another career reinvention, methinks.

In related news, Naleigh is an absolutely adorable child. Those cheeks!

katherine heigl

katherine heigl

Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet

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67 Responses to “Katherine Heigl on bonding with Naleigh: “Her rejection almost broke my heart””

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  1. Bite me says:

    That poor dear

  2. samira677 says:

    This isn’t new. She talked about not bonding with her in several interviews. I also don’t believe Katherine left Grey’s for family. She signed on for back to back movies when she left. Not to mention she constantly spoke badly about the show for a long time.

    • boobytrap says:

      i agree with this – i think she left GA b/c she thought she was the next big a-list movie star. now that it hasn’t worked out that way, she is spinning the departure in her favour.

      either way, i do wish her luck and happiness as a mom. her daughter is adorable!

      • Gene Parmesan says:

        Yep she thought there were bigger and brighter things on the horizon for her and Grey’s was impeding on that….

    • Holly Hobby says:

      Exactly. She left for reasons other than her child. She’s trying to spin this positively because her career is stalled and she has a reputation of being an ingrate.

  3. Jacq says:

    Uh, the magical bond she’s referring to us between women and the daughters they GIVE BIRTH TO. Idiot. She was nearly a year old and this new woman was a stranger! I am all for adoption, please don’t get me wrong, but it sounds stupid on her part to think you can just walk into that kind of a relationship.

    • RocketMerry says:

      Aw, that’s kind of harsh, no?
      Many mothers who adopt actually do feel the “magical connection” to their non biological children after a while, especially if the kid is very young.
      I thought Heigl was referring to the fact that she imagined it would be easier to create that bond; that perhaps just caring for her and loving her would have inspired trust feelings quickly. It not always like that, only sometimes, and it’s a common misconception. I’m glad she and her daughter have a good relationship now.

    • Miss says:

      No offence intended but maybe if you’re “All for” something you should learn a little bit about it before you start talking about it like you’re an authority.

      Signed, Adoptive mom.

    • pennyfeather says:

      I didn’t feel any connection to my son after he was born. He’s my life now, but at first, NOTHING. Everyone is different, and I’m sure there are adoptive mothers who DO feel an instant, magical, connection.

      • Lizbet says:

        Thank you for being honest about this. There is this myth about mother love being instant and overwhelming in all cases, and that really harms women. I had twins I felt zero connection to at birth –from my own body! At first I felt guilty, but it is freeing to realize that all love is a process.

    • NerdMomma says:

      I think this is a matter of weird phrasing. I wish she’d talked more about how difficult the bonding PROCESS was, rather than acting like it was so hard on HER when the bonding wasn’t immediate. Also, she might want to think more about what Naleigh was going through during that time. I mean, if she wants to start a productive dialogue on what it’s like to adopt, she could, but she needs to phrase it a little better.

  4. Lilalis says:

    Hm, while I think it’s a good thing to cut back on work to spend more time with your child, part of me believes that Heigl is trying to sell a new story about why she left GA in order to get away from her image as cold bitch.

    And yes, Naleigh is really cute!

  5. Jayna says:

    I always love her honesty. She has been the only celeb who has admitted how the first year of marriage (or marriage In general) was an adjustment and not always easy.

  6. Amanda says:

    I like her a lot better when she’s in front of a computer keyboard instead of a camera. Maybe if this acting thing doesn’t work out (kind of how it’s looking lately) she can be a writer.

  7. mommaq says:

    I think it’s important for a celebrity to be honest about adoption. Sometimes it can be tough, but that’s normal and worth it.

  8. Sm says:

    This whole marrying a younger guy and adopting a foreign child scenario almost seems like a publicity stunt: a reason for her to

    • gee says:

      According to Wikipedia, her husband is 2 years younger than her.. that hardly seems publicity stunt-y.

    • ShazBot says:

      and her older sister was adopted from Korea and she has always said she wanted to have a similar family of her own. I give Heigl a lot of flack for her attitude, but I won’t with this, it’s completely understandable.

    • mln76 says:

      the guy is 2 years younger then her! what does that make her a cougar?

    • Violet says:

      For starters, her husband is only two years younger so the age difference between them is pretty much nonexistent. Secondly, Katherine Heigl’s parents adopted a Korean child and Katherine always intended to do likewise, since the whole experience was so positive for her family.

      A lot of celebrities yap about how family is priority one but rarely walk the talk; it’s refreshing to see someone who is scheduling work around family, instead of vice versa.

      I never really used to like her much, but my opinion has really changed in the last few years.

  9. Jackie says:

    i highly doubt that is the reason she ‘left’ the grey show. gimme a break. seems like pr spin to me.

    cute kid, though.

  10. Esmom says:

    Omg, that little girl is cute as a button!

  11. Agnes says:

    love the pick of the two of them from the back – so cute! and i sort of like her, she can be abrasive, but she seems honest.

  12. lucy2 says:

    I still think she left GA because she was (undeservedly IMO) getting big movie roles, but I appreciate her honesty about her difficulties.
    One for the Money was SO bad.

  13. SpunkyPR says:

    Even if you hate her, the one thing I give her credit for is that you can see that she does adore her daughter and that little girl doesn’t look like she’s suffering. So maybe she sucks as an actress and playing the Hollywood game, but it looks like she’s doing a good job as a mom.

  14. grace says:

    Unpopular opinion but I like her. She’s honest and funny and…real.

    • sup says:

      i always liked her too. i think there is a good amount of women who like heigl but they are afraid to come out on these posts. lol

    • irishserra says:

      I’ve always liked her, bitchiness and all. I remember going to see “My Father the Hero” a loooong time ago and really liking her. 🙂

  15. emmieapricot says:

    I’ve been reading that she wants to get back on grey’s anatomy. How convenient this story gets major press now, to make her look like the tormented, sensitive mommy who quit the show for her daughter — not the bitchy, ungrateful, self-proclaimed ‘next jennifer aniston’ who quit the show b/c she wanted more money and more fame. that plan backfired and now she’s backpedaling. celebrities suck! I’m sick of them using their acting skills to play us for the fool.

  16. sup says:

    awww her daughter is so adorable

  17. Mitch Buchanan Rocks says:

    I’d like to see Katherine do a stint on Nurse Jackie.

  18. Victoria says:

    Naleigh will never really bond with her. They don’t look alike! Naleigh will hate her looks.

  19. Isa says:

    I smiled at the pigtails because that’s what my daughter’s always look like. I never can get the part straight!

    I thought she left Grey’s because everyone wanted her gone.

  20. Sophi says:

    Maybe I am remembering wrong, but didn’t she make a huge deal about the fact that she adopted a baby with some aort of disability? Now, before you all freak out and say “that doesn’t matter, blah, blah….” I don’t mean it in anyway other than to say I remember this happening. Does she say things that sound sympathetic at the time? :-\

    • Deb says:

      I think her baby was born with a heart problem that I believe has now been fixed. As far as the cynical person suggesting the article was intended as publicity for her, she has actually written on this subject a while back. I am not a huge fan of hers, but do think that too many people look for something wrong in everything she does.

      • ol cranky says:

        Naleigh actually had her PDA repaired prior to the adoption (something Heigl did mention in at least one interview)

        the “hole in your heart” from PDA not fully closing prior to birth is very common in premies and, the one good thing about the increase in premies and those needing PDA repair is that they’re so far along on the learning curve, kids do phenomenally well. I wouldn’t, exactly, consider Naliegh a “special needs” child as Heigl did.

      • Sophi says:

        Ol Cranky, special needs. Yes, thank you. That is what I remember also and personally I think she stated it that way to make herself look better. I am sure she is a good mother, but I don’t believe she says or does anything without thinking it thru and anticipating how she will look. Not buying it. 🙂

  21. Jenna says:

    All the opinions about her aside, I FLOVE that last pic of her and her daughter. So cute! 😀

    • irishserra says:

      FLOVE? Is that a typo? I hope not because if it means what I think it could mean, I FLOVE it!! 🙂

    • 88Modesty88 says:

      Jenna, is FLOVE your own creation? You’ll have us all FLOVING stuff all over the interwebs!


  22. serena says:

    LOL I don’t believe her (about the Grey’s anatomy stuff). She’s crying because she flopped so many movies.. eh, now it was all great wasn’t it?

  23. Malificent says:

    Giving birth to a child does NOT guarantee an immediate bond. Just as adopting doesn’t guarantee a lack of bond. I have several friends who are very loving mothers, but didn’t feel an immediate bond with their children.

    Also, if her daughter was adopted at 10 months, that can be a very tricky age for transitions. I had to switch child care for my son when he was 11 months, and it was very problematic for a while, even though he’s a fairly easy-going kid. His daycare lady, who has 20+ years experience with childcare, said that many other providers will not take a child at @ one year because it’s such a difficult age to transition. Younger and older easier are easier, but at that age are old enough to know something has changed in their world, but not old enough to have it explained. Also, that is an age where children are setting up boundaries in their little worlds and recognizing strangers vs. loved ones.

    • Kait says:

      We had an easier time adjusting to and bonding with our five year old son (who was old enough to verbalize his feelings) than with our 9 month old and 2 year old daughters. I’m glad she’s being honest about this. Attachment in adoption can be rough.

  24. mel says:

    I give her kudos for adopting…her daughter is so stinking cute!!! She seems like a dedicated mom…I like Heigl…I even liked One for the Money…don’t hate!

  25. Hautie says:

    Maybe Heigl is now understanding how nice it is to be part of a successful show. It is nice to have that steady income.

    So I am wondering if all of the rewritten history, of her loud ugly departure from Grey’s… is her way of trying to get a new TV show.

    (I suspect that Shonda Rhimes is not going to be giving her a great reference from that job.)

  26. Jess says:

    While I don’t like most of her movies, I’ve always had a soft spot for her as a person because she is so outspoken. I also just started watching Grey’s Anatomy and I love Izzy. I wish she would come back to the show!

  27. Yiarr says:

    I just can’t help liking her. Grey’s Anatomy just was not the same after Izzy and George left the show!

  28. ViloDeMenus says:

    Good Lord, the child walks on her own, doesn’t have to be wrapped in a blanket for faux security everywhere she goes, and doesn’t have a bottle or passie in her mouth constantly! Amazing! There are a few well adjusted H’wood kids!

  29. Jaxx says:

    Surely if she adopted she read some literature on the problems associated with an older baby. I don’t know if she got the best care from birth or if she came from crowded conditions where attention for a baby is not immediate. If the latter then those babies have trust issues and a host of other problems that make bonding a slow process. Surely she was advised about this.

    • Miffy says:

      Well there are any amount of baby books out there that will describe at length the difficulties of separtaion anxiety amongst the million other none-too-savoury behaviours babies and toddlers adopt. Reading and being educated on the matter doesn’t make a situation any less stressful or sometimes heartbreaking in day to day life (in an adoption or biological situation).

      • Jollytr says:

        We read lots of stuff before we adopted our sons at 18 months and 13 months. Nothing can prepare you for being rejected and even physically hurt by your children. I love them so much, words can’t describe it. But those first years were very, very tough. We’ve had to fight for our family … and we won 🙂

    • Jaxx says:

      @Miffy & Jollytr–I’m sure reading stuff doesn’t hold a candle to actually experiencing it but at least she would be warned. She acted like she was so shocked by it, but maybe I only gots bits and pieces of what she actually said.

      I salute both of you for your patience and courage to forge ahead in what must have been so painful. I’ve seen babies go rigid when held by someone they don’t want and to imagine your own doing that when all you want is to surround them with your love and comfort, well, it must be awful. So glad to know that it all worked out.

  30. Tiffany says:

    Her daughter is so cute!

  31. Saor says:

    I honestly love the Heigl. Also, her husband wrote a song for Naleigh and the video is the.most.cute.and.beautiful.thing.ever.


  32. Heather says:

    Regardless of her badmouthing GA, this is a sweet story.

  33. Miffy says:

    I love her honesty. It’s hard to admit that parenting isn’t the fairy tale it’s made it out to be. Every parent (adoptive or otherwise) is confronted with challenges. Kudos to Heigl for being open about it (even if it is a PR stunt, because who on this website doesn’t appreciate cynicsim?).

  34. ezra says:

    What an adorable child…such a sweet little heart-melting face…..ooooo, I want one too!

  35. suhon12 says:

    “Plumb Dumb.”