Stars who secretly adopted kids

Becoming a mother or father is never an easy decision to make. Sometimes having children biologically isn't in the cards and so these celebrities turned to adoption to fulfill their dreams and desires of becoming parents. Although the process can be lengthy, unexpected, and sometimes painful, these Hollywood moms and dads kept their decisions underwraps and out of the spotlight. From Madonna throwing off the media about her recent adoption of twins to Hoda Kotb surprising the world with a newborn daughter this February, here are the stars who kept their adoptions secret.

Madonna

Madonna has always had a deep connection to Africa, in particular Malawi. The queen of pop music, 58, has adopted two kids from the country in the past — son, David Banda in 2008 and daughter, Mercy James, in 2009. But in January 2017, she attempted to fool the media into believing she had no plans to adopt more children.

As the story goes, Madonna was in the country reportedly to check on her charity work and other organizations. When chatter began to bubble up she was hoping to take home more kids, she offered up a statement denying it all. "I am in Malawi to check on the children's hospital in Blantyre and my other work with Raising Malawi, and then heading home," she said according to Fox News. "The rumors of an adoption process are untrue."

Just weeks later, Madonna mysteriously announced she adopted twin girls from the troubled country. The news came as a shock since she denied expanding her family. "I can officially confirm I have completed the process of adopting twin sisters from Malawi and am overjoyed that they are now part of our family," she wrote in an Instagram, according to CNN. "I am deeply grateful to all those in Malawi who helped make this possible, and I ask the media please to respect our privacy during this transitional time. Thank you also to my friends, family and my very large team for all your support and Love!" The girls' names are Estere and Stella and are age 4. According to Us Weekly, Madonna clued in fans about the girls' prior life saying they lived at the orphanage since they were five days old.

Charlize Theron

Like many in Hollywood, Charlize Theron did her best to keep the details of her adoption process a secret. If fact, when she was first spotted with a baby in 2012 it threw many people for a loop. She eventually confirmed the news, reports the Daily Mail. "Charlize Theron has adopted a child. She is the proud mom of a healthy baby boy named Jackson," her rep told several outlets. The boy came from South Africa, Theron's homeland.

She later opened up about the lengthy process on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. "My mom said the most beautiful thing. She said, 'You know, it took me nine months to fall in love with you while you were growing in my stomach, and it took you two years to fall in love with this little baby,'" Theron, 41, said according to Us Weekly. "It took two years of waiting, and then one day, it's finally there, and it feels exactly how it's supposed to feel. I don't know how to describe it. It just feels right." The actress even described how her rescue pups even pitched in helping tend to the newborn baby. "From the moment this baby came into our home, those two dogs have never been more in love," Theron added. "It's the most beautiful thing I've ever witnessed."

Three years later, Theron expanded her family welcoming a baby girl from the United States named August. The adoption came directly after she broke up with longtime boyfriend Sean Penn, according to a follow up Us Weekly report. Though she hasn't said much about her new bundle of joy or raising kids as a single mom, she did tell W magazine in April 2015 that it has been a rewarding time in her life. "I do know that choosing to be a mom in my late 30s has been really great for me," she said. "It's given me perspective."

Kristin Davis

In October 2011, Kristin Davis announced she adopted a baby girl and named her Gemma Rose Davis. In a statement to E! News, the Sex and the City actress, 51, says she brought home her new bundle of joy a few months before breaking the big news. "This is something I have wanted for a very long time," she said. "Having this wish come true is even more gratifying than I ever had imagined. I feel so blessed." There's no word if the baby's middle name was inspired by her TV character who adopted two kids, Rose and Lilly.

Unlike other people in Hollywood, Davis has been very transparent about adopting an African American child and being a white mom. "I am white. I have lived in white privilege. I thought I knew before adopting my daughter that I was in white privilege, that I understood what that meant," Davis carefully explained in an in-depth conversation in New York City, according to People. "But until you actually have a child, which is like your heart being outside you, and that heart happens to be in a brown body, and you have people who are actively working against your child, it's hard. It fills me with terror."

She admits there is a learning curve when raising a child, especially a black child in America's current climate. "I'm on the intense learning curve because I have to protect my child," she said. "I might have had the intellectual learning curve that we all hope and wish we have, but it's different than the actual life that you're on the line for. I have to protect my daughter at all costs."

Hoda Kotb

Today show host Hoda Kotb surprised everyone in February 2017 when she announced she adopted a baby girl at age 52. The television anchor named the girl Haley Joy Kotb. "She's a Valentine's baby so she's a little nugget. She is the love of my life," the new mom quipped.

The "H" name continues a strong tradition in her family. But, she picked the name Haley because of Halley's comet, which is visible from Earth every 70 years. "It's one of those things," she gabbed on air. "I just picture her sailing through the sky." The baby's middle name also reflects the special feelings she brings to Kotb. "She brings us joy," she said. "She's got a beautiful way about her."

The idea of becoming a mother was planted in Kotb long ago. But her chances at conceiving naturally ended after enduring breast cancer 10 years ago, reports People. Then the timing wasn't right as she ended her two-year marriage to Burzis Kanga. "One of the things in my life I've always wanted was to be a mom," she told the magazine. "Sometimes in your life, things just don't work out for whatever reason, so you say, 'Well, I wasn't meant to have that.' But it was really hard to come to terms with it."

Over the years, Kotb felt a "hole" in her life. "People would say, 'Oh, do you have kids?' And I'd feel like, 'Ouch.' I knew inside it was supposed to be for me," she said.

Sandra Bullock

Sandra Bullock brought home three-month-old Louis Bardo Bullock, from New Orleans, in 2010. As People magazine revealed, she and her ex-husband, Jesse James, began the adoption process four years prior and kept all the of the details a secret. "He's just perfect, I can't even describe him any other way," Bullock told the publication. "It's like he's always been a part of our lives." Bullock decided to keep the adoptions news from the media until after the Academy Awards that year, at which Bullock took home her first trophy for her work in The Blind Side. The pair's divorce was announced right around the same time, leaving Bullock a single mom with a young boy to raise.

Fast forward to 2015 and Bullock, 52, once-again broke the news via People that she expanded her family. The actress adopted three-year-old Laila from Louisiana. Little Louis, then just 5, predicted his he would be getting a sibling soon, Bullock told the magazine. While at dinner in 2013, Louis made the claim. "He puts his hand behind his head and leans back and says, 'I don't have daughters,'" she recalled. "And we agreed as well that he didn't have daughters, and then he said, 'but I'm gonna have a baby soon. I don't know its name yet, but it's coming.'" Ironically, it was around the time Bullock had put wheels in motion to adopt a new child.

To prove that Louis and Laila are a perfect brother-sister match, Bullock says her son questioned Child Protective Services during a routine visit. "There was an afternoon when we were outside and Louis saw their car pull up and he ran next to Laila and asked the CPS workers why they were there. They replied that they were there to see if Laila was okay. He replied, 'You're not going to take her away, are you?' And at that moment, I knew I could stop worrying about whether I had found the right match. It was obvious I had."

Cate Blanchett

In the spring of 2015, Cate Blanchett and her husband Andrew Upton opened their arms and welcomed a baby girl named Edith Vivian Patricia Upton, reports Us Weekly. The new edition came after the couple welcomed threes sons biologically.

As the talented actress, 47, shared with Women in the World's Tina Brown (via the Daily Mail) that fall, the process and decision to expand the family via adoption had actually begun some 14 years prior. "We actually began the conversation a very long time ago, after our first son was born and he's about to turn 14," Blanchett revealed in the conversation. "And then we just had two other children and it sort of dropped off the radar."

While some couples would have stopped after having three kids, they chose to move forward with plans. Blanchett also revealed the decision to have a girl wasn't because she had already had three boys. "I felt we had space, enough emotional room in our hearts and were privileged enough to have the capacity to have another child, so it wasn't about biology," she added. "It wasn't about a desire to have a girl, the gender of the children was never particularly important to me… It's more about their spirits but it's been a remarkable thing to watch them welcome her and become, you know, a little troop."

Hugh Jackman

The road to adoption for Hugh Jackman and his wife Debra Furness was anything but easy. The X-Men actor, 48, is the proud father of two adopted kids—Oscar and Ava. But despite his current happiness, things weren't always easy for the star. Telling Australia's Herald Sun (via the Daily Mail), Jackman said he and Furness struggled to have children naturally and turned to in vitro fertilization that didn't go well either. "It was painful," he said. "It's not easy. You put a lot of time and effort into it, so it's emotional… We thought we'd have a kid or two biologically and then adopt. But when we decided we'd had enough of IVF, we went ahead with adoption."

But Jackman and Furness quickly discovered the process was anything but easy and smooth. As Jackman stated in a Guardian interview, Australia has an "anti-adoption culture." "When we went to adopt a kid early on here we went to a meeting," he said. "And the first thing to come out of someone's mouth was 'Don't expect to get any special treatment because you're famous.' There was no 'welcome'—that was it. It was almost if they are trying to put you off. [There is a] sort of feeling that has now been uncovered as an anti-adoption culture."

He says the country's views on adoption came from a terrible period during the 1950s and 1960 during which mothers gave up their children.

It's unclear how he was about to keep his adoption details so private and out of the headlines for so long.

Mariska Harigtay

Just ask Mariska Harigtay, adoption can be a wild and emotional rollercoaster for anyone. The Law & Order: SVU star told Good Housekeeping (via People) she and husband Peter Hermann had private plans to adopt kids after welcoming their first child August—Harigtay was 42 at the time. "I really did think that down the line, Peter and I would adopt a child. That was always part of the plan," she quipped. But the couple's initial attempt ended in tears. After finding a mother who was giving up her child, connecting, the situation fell apart for the couple. Harigtay and Hermann were present in the delivery room and even named the child only to have the birth mother change her mind and want the baby back.

"It was nothing short of devastating," she said. "But… it was probably the greatest, happiest ending. I mean, it was so painful for us, but it was deeply joyful and deeply right for her." The following year, the couple tried again and found a woman who gave birth to baby Amaya. "I basically pulled Amaya out," she described. "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." As fate would have it, the phone would ring again just six months later. The adoption agency had a baby boy ready for adoption. Although the couple planned to wait roughly a year and a half later, they jumped at the opportunity. "It was a no-brainer," Hargitay said. "It was like… a miracle. And I don't use that word lightly. I've never made a bigger decision so quickly." The couple named the boy after a dear friend, Andrew, who passed away. Little Andrew was premature and suffers from some health concerns, but the family has hired a nurse to help around the clock.

"Adoption was a bumpy ride—very bumpy," she said. "But, God, was it worth the fight."

Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie is perhaps the most famous Hollywood star with a history of adoption. She not only has three biological kids, she has adopted three kids as well. Her first child Maddox, from Cambodia, was adopted in 2002. Then came daughter Zahara, from Ethiopia, in 2005. Second son Pax, who arrived from Vietnam, was adopted in 2007. Jolie with then husband Brad Pitt welcomed kids Shiloh and twins Vivienne and Knox in between and after the adoptions.

But the Mr. and Mrs. Smith mom was also fairly quiet about her adoption process and her reasoning behind bringing kids home. Jolie did say in 2016 that she never wanted to be a mother until working in Cambodia. "It's strange, I never wanted to have a baby," the actress told the Associated Press. "I never wanted to be pregnant. I never babysat. I never thought of myself as a mother."

Her feelings for motherhood bubbled up after filming Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in Cambodia in 2000. The trip inspired her to become an ambassador and then while playing with local children it became "very clear to me that my son was in the country, somewhere."

In 2003, Jolie shared with People magazine one important message about adopting internationally. "Somebody told me if you are going to adopt an orphan, you should adopt them from a country you love because that's the only history you are going to be able to share with them—that's their past," she recalled.