Actress Sandra Bullock made headlines years ago when she decided to start her family by adopting son Louis, now 8, and years later, daughter Laila, now 5. This morning on the TODAY show, she reflected on being a mom in an emotional interview with host Hoda Kotb.
Even though the award-winning actress is still making movies—her next, Ocean’s 8, premieres this week—when asked about her priorities, she told Hoda, “It’s my kids. Everything is about them being OK, being in school, having what they need, their moments. I need to be there for every single moment that they have.”
She tries to be there for those moments if she can, she said, and her reason why is super relatable. “It’s harder for me to leave them than I think it is for them when I leave. I don’t leave that much, and I don’t work that much anymore either. I keep looking at them going, ‘I got nothing but you.'” She joked, “I told them where they can go to college. I said, ‘These are the places I’m comfortable living. So you have these choices.’ So my priorities are my kids, my kids, my kids. My family. My family. That’s it.”
However, as she revealed in the interview, during her early 40s, she didn’t think becoming a mom was in the stars for her—that is, until tragedy encouraged her to think otherwise.
“And then (Hurricane) Katrina happened in New Orleans, and I knew. Like, just something told me that my child was there. It was weird. It was very, very weird,” said the actress, who stars in Ocean’s 8, a film about a jewelry heist carried out by eight women.
Three or four years later, with son Louis in her arms, she realized the timing all made sense. “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,” she said. “The beautiful thing that I was constantly told was, ‘The perfect child will find you. You will find your child.'” A few years later, she adopted her daughter Laila.
At that point in the interview, they both started to tear up, with Sandra telling Hoda, “Stop, look in that direction!”
Hoda, who adopted daughter Haley Joy in early 2017, after she became infertile as a result of cancer treatments, shared that Sandra’s story had inspired her. “When you adopted Louis, a lot of people were looking at you, and I remember, because I was at Rio [2016 Summer Olympics], and I was trying to figure out, ‘Did I miss my window? Am I too late?… And all of a sudden I Googled you … We were from similar areas in Virginia, we were the same age … I remember I reached out to you and you gave me some good advice. But I thought, ‘You don’t even know who you inspired.’ You know because I told you, but how many other people looked up and saw you?”
The actress replied, holding back tears: “I hope by telling my story people know that there is no end game. There are hundreds of thousands of children that are ready to be your child. You’re a forever parent the minute you accept the love of that child. It is amazing how you can take away people’s happiness by telling them this is the box you have to stand [in]. There is no box.”
Although known for her film career, she told Hoda that having kids helped her realize that motherhood was her true purpose. “I felt that calling (to be a mom) at a very young age, but I had to become the mom that I was supposed to be for the kids that were waiting for me.”