Here's What We Know About Mariska Hargitay's Children

Best known for her role as Olivia Benson in the long-running crime drama "Law & Order: SVU," Mariska Hargitay has without a doubt made her mark in television. But we can't say we're surprised — it's in the genes. Mariska's mother, Jayne Mansfield, was one of Hollywood's famous blonde sex symbols of the '50, while her father, Mickey Hargitay, was famous for snagging the Mr. Universe back in 1955. But while having talented, famous parents might have influenced Mariska's career choice, she has often faced the enormous task of living up to her mom's reputation. "In some ways, being the daughter of a Hollywood icon has been a burden," she once told Closer Weekly. "I used to hate constant references to my mom because I wanted to be known for myself."

When she is not playing a badass detective, however, Mariska enjoys nothing more than tending to her family. "Being a wife and mother is my life, and that gives me the most joy," she added. Mariska married husband Peter Hermann in 2004 and is a proud mom of three — and like many other celebrity couples, these two have kept their kids out of the public eye, often leaving fans wondering about the brood.

Here's what we know about Mariska Hargitay's children.

August Hermann was born via emergency C-section

In November 2005, a little over a year after Mariska Hargitay and Peter Hermann tied the knot, the "Law & Order: SVU" star's publicist, Erwin More, confirmed that the couple was expecting their first child together, per Today. Hargitay, who was in her early '40s at the time, couldn't have been more thrilled. 

"Nobody wanted to be pregnant more than me," she later gushed to Self magazine (via People). "From the minute I found out, I was wearing full-on maternity pants. My stomach was totally flat, mind you, but I was just so excited." But sadly, Hargitay's pregnancy was anything but easy, with the stress of filming her hit crime drama eventually taking a toll on her. She explained, "I was overwhelmed by my lack of energy. All I could do to survive was to eat." Unfortunately, the eating was apparently not inconsequential, and Hargitay received a gestational diabetes diagnosis by her final trimester. The actor would later admit, "This pregnancy was really hard for me at the end."

On June 28, 2006, a full week after her due date, the Hargitay-Hermann household welcomed son August Hermann via Cesarean section, despite Hargitay wanting a natural birth. "I'm not a fan of surgery," she admitted to People of the decision to undergo the C-section, adding, "but I wanted a healthy baby."

Mariska Hargitay was present at daughter Amaya Hermann's birth

Four years after welcoming son August Hermann, Mariska Hargitay and her husband, Peter Hermann, knew it was time to expand their family. "August wanted siblings, and Peter and I both envisioned this big family because we both come from that," the proud mom said in an interview with Good Housekeeping. "Plus, we just had so much love to give."

Sadly, given the health complications she dealt with while expecting August, getting pregnant again was not an option for the couple. And so, they looked into adoption — an idea Hargitay had always nursed because of her own experience growing up: From the time she was three, Mariska and her older siblings were raised in a blended household with dad Mickey Hargitay and their stepmother, Ellen Siano Hargitay, following the tragic death of Mariska's mom, Jayne Mansfield, in a 1967 car crash.

Following a series of disappointments in their 18-month adoption journey, the "SVU" star and her husband received a call in 2011, informing them of a pregnant African American woman willing to put her baby up for adoption. But not only did the birth mother fully embrace Mariska as her baby's mother, but she also insisted that the actor be present in the delivery room. "I basically pulled Amaya out," the star said. "Peter and I held her, and then the birth mother and I hugged for a long time. That was profound. That was one of the most meaningful moments I've ever had in my life."

Andrew Hermann was born prematurely in 2011

In September 2011, only a few months after adopting daughter Amaya Hermann, Mariska Hargitay and Peter Hermann received another phone call that would change their lives. A baby, who had been born two months prematurely, was getting released from the NICU while also being placed under adoption. Of the experience, Hargitay told Good Housekeeping, "I mean, Amaya was something we pursued. We went down there; we paid our dues. And then we get this ... craaazy call! I mean, who would call a family that had just adopted a baby and say, 'A child was born'? Our incredible lawyer, that's who!"

Even though the couple wasn't looking to adopt at the time, they knew they couldn't pass up on the opportunity. Following their meeting with the birth mother, Hargitay and Hermann took their second son, Andrew Hermann, home. "Andrew, I always describe it as this angel that fell out of the sky, because he was a little unexpected," the "Law & Order: SVU" star told People of her third child. 

Exciting, no doubt, but Andrew's addition to the Hargitay-Hermann family also came with its own challenges, and the couple soon employed a private nurse to tend to his multiple medical needs. "It's a lot, but that's what you do. That's life. You've gotta go with it," Hargitay admitted to Good Housekeeping. "The highs are high, and the lows are low." But the actor still wouldn't have it any other way. "Our family is so perfect," Hargitay gushed to People in 2018, "or at least perfect for me."

Becoming a mom taught Mariska Hargitay a lot

For many around the world, parenthood comes with lessons — and Mariska Hargitay is no different. Since first becoming a mother in 2006, Hargitay has continued to evolve in many different ways. "The thing that's made me a better parent is my kids," she told People in 2018. "Because they taught me to really listen. My husband is my North Star, and my kids are my teachers."

Apart from improving her listening skills, Hargitay has also found herself to have become more compassionate over the years. The actor once admitted to that prior to having kids of her own, she would get upset with mothers whose kids cried in planes or public spaces. These days, however, the "Law & Order: SVU" star would handle the situation differently by actually offering to help. "Because you think about the time your kid was screaming, and you know everyone hates you, and there was the one parent who looks at you and smiles, and that compassion is everything," she added.

That said, Hargitay is not keeping these lessons to herself. The award-winning actor has also made it a point of duty to extend these teachings to her kids themselves. In 2012, she explained to Parents (via the Joyful Heart Foundation) how she was modeling kindness to her oldest child, August Hermann, who was only six at the time. "I teach him what it means to be kind," Hargitay explained. "... I continue to build on it so it becomes a child's mind-set to be considerate."

The Hermann children have special names

Between Elon Musk and Grimes dubbing their son X Æ A-12 Musk and Khloé Kardashian and Tristan Thompson naming their daughter True, Hollywood is no stranger to unconventional baby names. But even though they gave their brood relatively common names, Mariska Hargitay and Peter Hermann still kept things special when it came to naming their kiddos. For instance, for their first child's given name, the couple went with August, a moniker that had been in Hermann's family history since the 1800s, per People. While August's second name, Miklos, was taken from his late grandfather on Mariska's side, Mickey Hargitay, his third name — Friedrich — is similarly a tribute to his Hermann's grandfather.

For baby No. 2, the famous couple initially settled with Maya, before deciding they wanted all their kids to share the same initials. "So we added the 'A,' and we thought: 'Amaya! So feminine! It just rolls off the tongue,'" Mariska explained to Good Housekeeping. As for the moniker's meaning, Amaya means "Heavenly valley" or "Night rain" in Japanese, while in Spanish, it's translated as "Mother city," according to MomLovesBest. For her part, Mariska noted it also means "Princess" and "Warrior."

Mariska and Hermann's third child was named Andrew in tribute to one of the couple's friends, who tragically died shortly before he was adopted. "He was somebody we deeply loved who affected our lives in a very beautiful way," Mariska said of their late friend. "And [his death] happened too soon and unexpectedly."

Mariska Hargitay's eldest son always wanted siblings

If you ask August Hermann, he will tell you he can make big things happen. But we can't really fault him, because once upon a time, little August wanted nothing more than to have little siblings. Luckily for him, and as previously mentioned, his parents never planned on having just one kid. Speaking to Parents in 2012 (via the Joyful Heart Foundation), Mariska Hargitay recounted when she and husband Peter Hermann started considering having more kids — and how it was August who helped them reach a decision. 

"August came home from a playdate one day and said, 'I want a baby Iris,'" Hargitay explained. "Turns out, the playdate he was on, the child had a baby sister named Iris. When he said that, my husband, Peter, and I looked at each other and replied, 'It is so interesting you said that.'"

Amusingly, following the adoption of his siblings, August concluded he made it happen. "August thinks this was all his idea!" Hargitay quipped of her eldest in her interview with Good Housekeeping. "He said, 'I want a baby sister,' and Amaya came. Then he said, 'I want a baby brother,' and Andrew came. August is feeling pretty good and pretty powerful!" Given his initial excitement, there's no doubt that August has grown up to be an amazing big brother to his younger siblings.

She and Peter Hermann take their children on special vacations

If there is one thing Mariska Hargitay and Peter Hermann will do, it's go on fun and lavish family vacations with their kids, August, Amaya, and Andrew Hermann. Back in December 2014, the "Law & Order: SVU" star took to Instagram, sharing images of a family trip to Hawaii. In one picture, Mariska posed with her youngest son, who adorably rocked a hat and a pair of sunglasses, while another image captured a sweet moment between the tiny tot and his father. "#Aloha from #Hawaii and a happy Boxing Day to all!" Hargitay captioned a third pic at the time. 

Fast forward to December 2022, when the famous family took things up a notch by jetting off to Disney World with fellow TV star and pal Neil Patrick Harris' family, including twins Harper and Gideon. "We had a most amazing Disney adventure last week!" the "How I Met Your Mother" alum captioned an Instagram post from the trip alongside two heart emojis and the hashtag "grateful," adding, "I got to narrate the exquisite Candlelight Processional (my 10th year!), our family created new holiday memories, and we brought friends who had never been to WDW before! Who doesn't love Disney firsts!" 

In a separate post, Harris' husband, David Burtka, gushed about having a great time with the Hargitay-Hermann clan. "There is no better place for the holidays!" Burtka added.