Mariska hargitay adopted son

This may not come as news to some, but did you know that Law and Order’s Mariska Hargitay is married to Younger star Peter Hermann? If you weren’t aware of this fun fact, then we hereby give you permission to freak out a little bit. Hermann plays senior book editor Charles Brooks on the popular TV Land series—and one thing he and his character certainly have in common is dashing good looks.

Hargitay and Hermann met on the set of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit back in November 2001. Hargitay tried making a joke to break the ice with the actor, but “he didn’t think I was funny,” she told InStyle. Thankfully things took a turn for the better several months later, when the two were discussing religion and Hermann suggested they attend church together. “I just about passed out when I saw him there,” Hargitay told InStyle. “I thought, that’s my husband.”

Her premonition was spot on. Hermann popped the question in 2004, and the couple wed on August 28 of that year at the Unitarian Historical Chapel in Santa Barbara in front of 200 guests. “I recited my vows so loudly you could have heard them in Oregon, but Mariska’s were quiet and small,” Hermann told InStyle.

The genetically blessed couple had their first son, August, in 2006, then went on to adopt two more children in 2011—first their daughter, Amaya, now 6, followed by their youngest son, Andrew, now 5.

“Being a wife and mother is my life, and that gives me the most joy,” Hargitay told Closer Weekly when she recently opened up about losing her mother, Jayne Mansfield, 50 years ago. “I understand in a new way that gives me peace. Now I understand the love she had in her, and it makes me feel closer to her.”

If you still aren’t convinced of this couple’s absolute perfection, here are some photos that will make you so happy Hermann is her man. (Sorry, we had to!)

Mariska Hargitay Pregnant

The rumor mill says there will be another pregnancy for Mariska Hargitay

Mariska Hargitay is the daughter of the famed sex symbol Jayne Mansfield. She and hubby, Peter Hermann, have given birth to one daughter so far in their marriage, but the rumor mill says there will be another pregnancy for Mariska Hargitay in 2009. Where are the rumors rooted? According to interviews with several publications, both Mariska Hargitay and Peter Hermann want to have more children and the only way to do that is to be pregnant.

Complicating the need for pregnancy is Mariska Hargitay’s collapsed lung. The injury occurred while the actress was vacationing and she never missed one filming of her hit television series, Law and Order. The collapsed lung is improving with time, but also with time Mariska Hargitay is getting older. At 44 years of age, having another pregnancy will prove difficult for the star not because she is unhealthy, but because as the female body gets older, there is less ability to get pregnant and an increased chance of complications during the pregnancy. This is paired with the fact that her first child was born via C-Section at the weight of 10 pounds 9 ounces. If she were to have twins, as is very popular in Hollywoodtoday, there could be issues with premature labor and birth.

Mariska Hargitay offers a unique background and education to the children born of her pregnancies. She speaks English, Hungarian, Spanish and Italian fluently and has an education in theater from UCLA. An interesting fact about Mariska Hargitay is the scar located on her forehead. At the age of three, she was involved in a car accident that killed her mother. She does not remember the incident, but holds the scar as proof of the experience. Her father, Mickey Hargitay was also an actor.

While Mariska Hargitay is known currently for her role in Law and Order, this is not the first time she has appeared on the screen. Mariska Hargitay was first introduced to the world in 1985 with the cult hit Ghoulies. From there, Mariska Hargitay starred in Leaving Las Vegas and Lake Placid. While she does not have a huge list of movies under her belt, she has starred in many versions of Law and Order – one of the most popular ongoing television series of all time.

Mariska Hargitay is one of the few Hollywoodcelebrities that has managed to keep the media at bay. She lives a solemn life with her husband and child and hopes to continue having children in the future. With the way Hollywoodis popping out twins and the age of Mariska Hargitay, there is a bit of speculation whether or not she will be the next Hollywoodmom to have multiples. Many of the multiples born in Hollywoodtoday are the result of invitro fertilization and older Hollywoodpregnancies. At 44, Mariska Hargitay is primed to try some invitro in order to continue her family so keep your ears to the ground for more announcements about her pregnancy in the future. Will there be one more Hargitay or two?

Screen star Mariska Hargitay is the daughter of Hollywood royalty, a successful actress and an impassioned activist — but her most beloved role is that of mom to her three kids.

Two years after Mariska, 55, and her husband, Peter Hermann, tied the knot in August 2004, the couple welcomed their first child, son August Miklos Friedrich Hermann, 13. Then, in April 2011, Mariska and Peter, adopted their now 8-year-old daughter, Amaya Josephine Hermann, and the pair was able to attend her birth.

In October 2011, Mariska’s family was completed when she and Peter, 52, adopted their third child, son Andrew Nicolas Hargitay Hermann, 8. With all those adolescents running around, you might think Mariska gets tired, but she wouldn’t have it any other way!

“Our family is so perfect, or at least perfect for me,” she gushed to People in 2018. “Together we’re just this whole, happy, joyful, chaotic, crazy unit. I’ve never known anything that was more right.” Mariska went on to reveal the many heartwarming dynamics that exist in her family.

“The thing that’s made me a better parent is my kids. Because they taught me to really listen. My husband is my North Star, and my kids are my teachers,” she expressed. “Peter and I, we’re so different that it’s been amazing how we complement each other. He knows everything I don’t.”

“The beauty is that families are made in so many different ways, and that was my reality as a child. Growing up, my family was made in such an interesting and unique way, and now I have that with my own family, and so I understand it. It’s been amazing,” Mariska, whose parents are late actress Jayne Mansfield and late bodybuilder Mickey Hargitay, said.

Though Mariska is proud to be a working mom, she has admitted it’s sometimes difficult to balance starring on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit with raising three young kids. “I get jealous that other people get to take August to school and pick him up. It’s hard for me to go to his school and not know all the parents. They all know one another and it’s a community. I can’t always be a part of that. You can’t have everything, though,” she told Momtastic in a previous interview.

Well said, Mariska! We look forward to seeing more sweet family moments in the future.

Brian Bowen Smith

Mariska Hargitay is among America’s favorite (not to mention highest-paid) TV actresses for one very good reason: her portrayal on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit of Olivia Benson, the grave, rarely smiling but deeply compassionate sex-crimes detective.

So it’s happily jarring to enter Hargitay’s sprawling but comfy New York City apartment and find…the trappings of a party. Dozens of helium balloons bounce against the ceilings of the living room and office; it was Hargitay’s 48th birthday recently, and her husband, actor Peter Hermann (who recently starred in the Broadway play War Horse), surprised her with a hayride-themed party. While the bales of hay have thankfully been removed, those balloons remain a happy reminder of the soiree. A massive teddy bear is also a permanent fixture in the living room.

“This is the fun house!” Hargitay says, buoyant in a Manhattan mom’s outfit of black jeans, riding boots, and layered tees that reveals her to be, refreshingly, as normal-size around the midriff as any top actress dares to be.

Hargitay has had quite a year. She and Hermann adopted a baby, daughter Amaya, now 14 months, and six months later she stunned the public by taking home a second baby, Andrew, now 10 months old.

Now in the kitchen, Hargitay and the whole family are crammed around a long table, having a lunch of Ethiopian chicken, rice, vegetables, and bread. “We like trying new cultures,” she explains, bouncing Amaya — a chocolate-skinned cherub in a birthday-party — worthy dress — on her lap before handing the little girl across the table to tall, handsome Hermann, who cuddles his daughter with enormous tenderness. Skim-milk — pale and with eyelashes to die for, baby Andrew is being cradled in his nanny’s arms. At the head of the table is the happy-as-a-clam big bro, August, in the Batman skullcap that rarely leaves his head (it has to be pried off at bedtime). Hargitay and Hermann’s biological son, who is nearly 6 years old, obviously relishes his newly expanded family.

This is the peppy, straightforward, smiling Hargitay — the un-Olivia, in fact: a woman whose bursting-full life is perhaps not easy, but certainly a source of great joy. Yet the qualities that give her performance as Detective Benson such haunting resonance are just a heartbeat away. As the younger children go for their naps and August heads to his room to play, a more emotional, deeply thoughtful Hargitay comes out. “I’m not gonna lie,” she says as she launches into the story behind her burgeoning family. “There were wrenching moments. I say to everybody, ‘Adoption is not for the faint of heart.’ “

Brian Bowen Smith

Her Family Plan

Hargitay gave birth to August at 42, an age after which subsequent pregnancies aren’t always easy. After a few years of Hargitay and Hermann’s enjoying new parenthood, “August wanted siblings, and Peter and I both envisioned this big family because we both come from that. Plus, we just had so much love to give,” she explains. “I was really letting the chips fall as they might, because I do think so much is up to God. I always said, ‘I don’t know how this is going to end up. I don’t know if I’m going to get pregnant and have twins. I don’t know…,’ ” she says, throwing her hands up theatrically, ” ‘if somebody’s going to leave a baby on my doorstep.’ But I really did think that down the line, Peter and I would adopt a child. That was always part of the plan.”

That idea had taken root in her childhood. As a young girl, she was forced to recognize that “mother” didn’t necessarily imply a biological connection. After her own mother, the actress Jayne Mansfield, was tragically killed in a car accident, Hargitay (who was 3½. and in the car’s backseat at the time) and her brothers went to live with their father, bodybuilder-turned-businessman Mickey Hargitay. His third wife, Ellen Siano Hargitay, became his daughter’s mother in every sense of the word. “I called her Mom. She really claimed us. She never had biological kids of her own, and to this day we are her kids. So we were blessed that she really embraced us and loved us so quickly. And I was very fortunate to have a maternal figure in my life after such a horrific accident,” Hargitay says.

On top of that personal lesson came the teachings of travel with her parents: “I remember being in Thailand and India when I was 9 or 10 and seeing kids alone in the street and thinking, Where are their moms?” Then she realized they didn’t have moms. “They were so amazingly resourceful and soulful and smart. And somewhere inside of me — even so young — I had that maternal instinct,” she says. “I remember thinking, I want to take them all home!” That yearning, and the knowledge that unrelated people can be parent and child, stayed with her, powerfully.

So about two years ago, she and Hermann contacted an “amazing,” intuitive adoption lawyer and, as Hargitay puts it, began their journey. They completed a comprehensive five-hour home visit and endured some false starts: “There were several cases that didn’t work out. A lot of different kinds of complications. Then, after disappointments, came the big hope — which ended up being dashed. But,” she quickly adds, her face almost pious, “while it may be ironic, the hardest disappointment was also the greatest moment, in terms of what it means to help build a family.”

Hope and Heartbreak

It was about 18 months ago that Hargitay and Hermann heard of a pregnant young woman who was having a girl — Hargitay had always dreamed of a daughter. After several steps in the vetting process, they arranged to meet her. As was true of the eventual adoptions of Amaya and Andrew, this was a domestic adoption, and the young woman was not far from New York City. Given that this was “probably about the third” attempt to expand their family, Hargitay tried not to get her hopes up. But when she met the expectant mom, she was thrilled: “I thought she was just an incredible person, so smart and bright.”

Pursuing what many would consider a closed adoption — wherein the birth mother won’t have access to her offspring in the future — when you’re a public person like Hargitay, and when you want to get to know the birth mother before the baby is born, is not an easy thing. But this path was the one Hargitay chose. “They all know who I am,” she says of the various women she encountered on her journey. “I trusted them with open arms. And they trusted me. It’s a huge relationship.”

Hargitay was, in a sense, auditioning. She says, “I wanted to have with this young woman, to look into her eyes and be able to tell her I would love her child. I wanted her to meet August, to see our family, to understand where the baby would be. I wanted her to feel she had won the jackpot” — not because of Hargitay’s fame, but because of her love and sincerity.

The young woman did not cast a wide net for adoptive mothers. “She didn’t even meet anyone else; she only met me,” Hargitay says with quiet pride. They talked to each other for a month: “I kept sort of pushing and asking questions,” she recalls — to gently make sure the woman did indeed want to give the baby up, that adoption was the right decision. “I felt a little maternal about her,” Hargitay explains. The mother-to-be was sure; Hargitay would be her baby’s mom.

One day soon after that, Hargitay was on the SVU set when her cell phone rang. It was the birth mother: “Come now — it’s time!”

At the hospital, Hargitay was handed her newborn, “this little angel.” She and Hermann had two blissful days bonding with the tiny girl, naming her.

And then, “the long and short of it: The birth mother changed her mind,” Hargitay says. And so she and Hermann had no moral or ethical choice but to hand the baby back to her birth mother. “It was nothing short of devastating,” Hargitay says, her eyes welling up at the memory.

She is quiet for a moment and then looks away, clears her throat, and says, “But…this is what I’ve come to understand about life: 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. And so when she changed her mind,” she says, tearing up again, “I felt honored to be part of the process. It was a profound blessing to have been part of the making of a union; that God had picked me. I don’t even want to say that I helped, but for some reason I was there, and I was part of a decision that was so beautiful and sacred. I’m a woman in my 40s. I’ve lived a life, I know about decision-making and ramifications and choices, and how they affect everything you do. That’s age and wisdom. But someone very young — they don’t know! They can’t know yet.”

Hargitay’s mothering of the baby for those two days apparently helped the birth mother realize what her youth, and perhaps her fear, had obscured from her for months: She couldn’t live without her baby. From this distance, Hargitay says that she feels “a deep gratitude” for her role in the woman’s last-minute change of heart. “That’s my philosophy: There are no accidents.”

Antoine Verglas

Another Chance

Not long after that turn of events, Hargitay and Hermann’s lawyer and social worker located another woman who was expecting a baby; after initial inquiries, even these two seasoned professionals couldn’t hide their enthusiasm. “They said, ‘This woman’s kind of great,’ ” Hargitay recalls. And so, a little over a year ago, she and Hermann made a phone call to this prospective birth mother. “We were blown away,” Hargitay says. “She was very powerful, soulful, and thoughtful.” When the couple met her, “the whole thing was kind of…storybook. It was almost too good to be true.” Indeed, after having abruptly lost the last baby, they worried that their hearts would be broken again. But this woman set them at ease: “She said, ‘I know this is right. You are this baby’s mother.’ ” Did Hargitay cry when she heard that reassurance? “Yes!” she says, with a jubilant laugh.

The woman was African-American, but the fact that her baby would be adopted by a white couple didn’t bother her. Race was also “a nonissue” to Hargitay and Hermann. In fact, Hargitay says, “we were excited to have a multiracial family, because that’s what the world is, and we want our family to reflect a realistic microcosm of the world.”

Hargitay and Hermann wanted a girl, but they were so over the moon about the birth mother, it was fine that she was having a boy — or at least that was what the medical report had seemed to make clear. Then came the call from their lawyer, which Hargitay clearly remembers: ” ‘Are you sitting down?’ she asked. ‘Yes,’ I said. ‘There was a mistake. It’s a baby girl she’s having!’ “

Hargitay and Hermann took the hopeful step of choosing a name for their soon-to-be daughter. “We were thinking of Maya first,” she recalls. “We loved the name. And we wanted her to have the same initials as me. But then I thought, No; she needs to have the same initials as her brother. So we added the ‘A,’ and we thought: Amaya! So feminine! It just rolls off the tongue.” Besides, after doing a bit of research, the couple found that in various languages “Amaya means ‘princess,’ it means ‘warrior,’ and it means ‘night rain.’ “

The birth mother agreed that Hargitay not only would be in the delivery room, but also would help deliver the baby. “Glove up!” the doctor ordered Hargitay as she stood expectantly at the edge of the table, near the stirrups. So she did, and “I basically pulled Amaya out,” she says. “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 if on cue, to provide a welcome intermission from the emotional wallop of the story his mother is telling, sprite-like August enters the room. “Hi, little man,” Hargitay says. “Daddy said I can’t come in,” he says. “Can I?” He flops on the chaise by the window, theatrically crosses his hands over his little chest, strums his fingers, and impishly feigns massive disinterest. “I won’t say anything…I won’t listen,” he says, then eventually exits after some bribing (Gummi Bears), extra chitchat with Mom, and tickling. Hargitay, smiling and shaking her head, remarks, “Cutest kid on the planet, right?”

Good Things Come in Pairs

With newborn Amaya at home to join August, Hargitay and Hermann were utterly content. “Everything was so dreamy,” she says. Yes, maybe in a year and a half they would try to adopt again, but not now. Of course not; their hands were happily full. Still, when the social worker visited to do their post-placement follow-up, the couple had an idea: Why not get their next home study over with in the same sitting? (One usually cannot initiate a new adoption without a new home study.) Hargitay muses about the chain of events set in motion by this serendipity: “I think God runs the show. Completely. Life proves it every day: He runs the show.” Hargitay was raised Catholic, and Hermann was also raised Christian; their first significant date was in his church. “I think God is very much in us. Faith is a huge part of our life. And I think everything happens for a reason,” she says.

Hargitay and Hermann’s lives were rocked that September, when they received tragic, shocking news that a dear friend had suddenly died. “He was somebody we deeply loved who affected our lives in a very beautiful way,” she says, close to tears. “And happened too soon and unexpectedly.” The man’s name was Andrew. Just when Hargitay and Hermann were struggling with this loss — that very week — their lawyer called to see how everything was going with Amaya. And then the lawyer said something else: There was another baby, a boy, two months premature and very fragile. He was being released from the neonatal intensive care unit in a hospital in another state, and he was adoptable. The lawyer “knew that we were done” adopting for the moment, Hargitay says, but still she asked, “Are you interested?”

Hargitay and Hermann raced to meet their baby boy, who had been released from the hospital. They met the birth mother (“She was awesome. An incredible woman. She’s been through a lot”), and then they took the tiny, delicate infant home.

The couple named him after their lost friend Andrew. Hargitay marvels at the difference between the two adoptions: “I mean, Amaya was something we pursued. We went down there; we paid our dues,” she notes. “And then we get this…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!”

Those first months were “touch and go — it was scary,” Hargitay says. Though she and Hermann have a nanny to help with the other two children, Andrew has respiratory and reflux issues, so a private nurse lives with the family to tend to his medical needs. There have been times when he has stopped breathing for a terrifying interval. Several times, Hargitay and Hermann have rushed off the sets and stages of their respective shows; one time an ambulance was already in front of the apartment when they frantically arrived, and they rode with their baby to the hospital. “It’s a lot, but that’s what you do,” she says. “That’s life. You’ve gotta go with it. The highs are high, and the lows are low.” Is she sleeping less? “Yes, definitely!” she admits. “But sometimes it’s not the babies who get me up in the middle of the night — it’s August!”

Brian Bowen Smith

Finding Her Balance

Hargitay’s life is full to the brim now — so full that when she and Hermann actually get out to the movies every three weeks or so, “we sit there in the movie theater before the movie starts and say, ‘Wow! We’re at the movies without kids!’ about 50 times to each other. People look at us like we’re weird — except,” she quickly adds, “if they’re parents, in which case they’re doing the same thing.”

Given her nonstop schedule, Hargitay finds that reconnecting with Hermann isn’t the only necessity for her; a few daily moments of utter stillness are also essential. “I try to give myself a little bit of time every day to sit quietly,” she explains, “and I end up in the bathtub as often as I can — that’s a real sanctuary for me.”

Many of her closest friends also have young children — including her showbiz pals Maria Bello, Debra Messing, and Ali Wentworth. She’s happy they’re all in the same overstuffed boat. The advice, empathy, and sheer silliness those women and other friends add to Hargitay’s life has been a godsend.

“No matter where you find yourself in life, there’s always a friend who has gone through pretty much the same thing,” she marvels. “After we adopted, it was remarkable how many people had great thoughts and tips for us. And my friends are all so incredibly loving and hilarious; I inevitably end up laughing when I talk to them. I would say in that department, I am a very lucky girl.”

It was in that same spirit of gratitude for her blessings that Hargitay launched her Joyful Heart Foundation eight years ago, to help victims of domestic violence and sexual assault as well as child abuse. The thriving organization has so far served 5,400 victims (2,500 in the last year alone). Among its latest projects: lobbying to get the massive backlog of untested rape kits processed so thousands of American women whose rapes have gone unsolved may finally have justice, safety, and closure. In the past two years, Hargitay has testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security; Joyful Heart joined forces with the Obama administration on the critical issue of processing the rape-kit backlog and worked to encourage cities as diverse as Detroit and Los Angeles to get caught up on investigating unsolved rape cases.

Hargitay started the foundation because so many people thought she so credibly portrayed Olivia Benson that victims and their friends and relatives would write her touching, personal letters, sharing their stories with her. Her mission — to provide help beyond that of her on-screen portrayal — became clear. “Olivia’s been like a teacher to me,” she says of her role. “Talk about a lioness! And she doesn’t have kids, but what a mother.”

And here we are, having come full circle, discussing Hargitay’s own upbringing by her own “mom,” Ellen Hargitay, who never gave birth to any children. “What makes a mother?” Hargitay asks, pausing for a moment. “I think a mother is somebody who will kill to protect you, somebody who will love you and make sure that you’re always OK. I’ll take inspiration and information from wherever I can get it, whether that’s from my character, from my husband, or from my dad , who always said, ‘Mariska, you can learn from anyone and everyone. From people who are older than you and people who are younger than you.’

“See, I got the rough stuff out of the way early,” she concludes, with a sad nod to a photograph of her late mother, the glamorous Jayne Mansfield, in pride of place in the dining room. “I learned at a very young age that anything can happen. And that works both ways, good and bad. I get that life is a gift.” The loss of her birth mother left her, at 3½. years old, with “a broken heart and a lot of fear.” She overcame both with hard work, she says. “But trust can take you a long way. And my faith takes me a long way. And I think that our pains, our vulnerabilities, and our insecurities can fuel us to be better. To try harder. To dig deeper.”

Hargitay pauses for a moment. “Adoption was a bumpy ride — very bumpy,” she says, as a huge smile lights up her face. “But, God, was it worth the fight.”

This story originally appeared in the May 2012 issue of Good Housekeeping.

Mariska Hargitay always knew she wanted a family with her husband Peter Hermann, regardless of whether they had children biologically or not. In a recent interview with People, the mother of three shared how adoption had always been in the forefront of the couple’s minds. After welcoming their oldest son, August, via emergency C-section in 2006, they went on to adopt two more children — Amaya and Andrew — within four months of each other in 2011.

“Having lost my mom at a young age, I then grew up with my stepmom, and I have half siblings, and so I know that families can be built in all sorts of different ways, that there isn’t just one way to create a family and that it isn’t just about biology,” she explained.

Knowing the adoption process can take a long time, Mariska and Peter were surprised that Andrew was able to come into their home for good so quickly. “We adopted Amaya, and Andrew, I always describe it as this angel that fell out of the sky, because he was a little unexpected,” the 55-year-old mom said. “It’s something that happened very quickly, when adoption can take a long time. We were so beautifully and surprisingly . . . not because we’re not in sync, but surprisingly in sync about something so huge. So momentous.”

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Peter agrees, explaining that the way their children came into their lives didn’t matter to him. “It’s funny, I always get so private about our kids, but I think that the easiest way or the easiest answer is we just wanted a bigger family and we feel incredibly blessed,” the 51-year-old said.

Nope, it doesn’t get any sweeter than that!

Image Source: Getty / Nicholas Hunt

Mariska Hargitay and Peter Hermann have created a successful 15-year marriage, but for the happy couple, their decision to adopt their two younger children was one that really strengthened their unconditional bond.

© Courtesy Mariska Haritgay Mariska Hargitay and Peter Hermann with their children

After the Law and Order: SVU star gave birth to their son August Miklos Friedrich in June 2006, the couple opted to adopt their next two children. They first welcomed now-8-year-old daughter Amaya Josephine in 2011 and then, four months later, son Andrew Nicolas to their family after his birth that summer.

“Having lost my mom at a young age, I then grew up with my stepmom, and I have half siblings, and so I know that families can be built in all sorts of different ways, that there isn’t just one way to create a family and that it isn’t just about biology,” Hargitay, 55, says in the latest issue of PEOPLE.

© Provided by TIME Inc. Mariska Hargitay and Peter Hermann “We adopted Amaya, and Andrew, I always describe it as this angel that fell out of the sky, because he was a little unexpected,” the actress continues.

The decision to add two more children to their family, while surprising at first, was a pivotal moment in the pair’s marriage, and for the better.

“It’s something that happened very quickly, when adoption can take a long time,” Hargitay adds. “We were so beautifully and surprisingly … not because we’re not in sync, but surprisingly in sync about something so huge. So momentous.”

© Provided by TIME Inc. Mariska Hargitay and Peter Hermann cover PEOPLE | Cliff Watts For Hermann, 51, the unconventional manner in which he and his wife increased their tribe only added to the love he has for his family of five.

“It’s funny, I always get so private about our kids, but I think that the easiest way or the easiest answer is we just wanted a bigger family and we feel incredibly blessed,” the Younger star tells PEOPLE.

Adds the Emmy-winning actress, “I think there is such beauty in the divine architecture of how this family was built.”

Related video: Mariska Hargitay and Peter Hermann Reveal Laughter Is the Key to Their 15-Year Marriage:

Law & Order: SVU star Mariska Hargitay and husband actor Peter Hermann made headlines last year, when they adopted both their daughter Amaya Josephine and son Andrew Nicolas within the span of six months.

But now Hargitay is opening up for the first time about the unseen heartbreaking moments of the adoption process.

Mariska Hargitay Adopts Baby Girl

A particularly brutal moment occurred when the couple was able to connect with a birth mother not far from New York City, and after meeting the woman, finalizing the adoption plan, being present in the delivery room, naming the newborn and parenting her for two days, the birth mother changed her mind.

“It was nothing short of devastating,” Hargitay reveals. “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.”

She also calls the decision to adopt their son Andrew so quickly after adopting Amaya a “no-brainer.” Though they originally wanted to wait 18 months before adopting a second child, they got the news that a premature baby was ready for adoption and had to quickly make a choice.

Mariska Hargitay Adopts Baby Son

“It was like … a miracle,” she explains. “And I don’t use that word lightly. I’ve never made a bigger decision so quickly.”

But through all the highs and lows, Hargitay has no doubt that the strenuous adoption process of both Amaya and Andrew (who joins the couple’s biological son August) was well worth it.

“Adoption was a bumpy ride — very bumpy,” she admits. “But, God, was it worth the fight.”

From Country Living

  • Mariska Hargitay and Peter Hermann have three children.
  • The Law & Order: SVU actress has one biological son and adopted another son and daughter.

Mariska Hargitay and her husband Peter Hermann had an undeniable connection when they first met nearly two decades ago. In the 15 years since the couple got married, they’ve welcomed three children into their family—and the new additions have only made their bond stronger.

“Our family is so perfect, or at least perfect for me,” she told People. “Together we’re just this whole, happy, joyful, chaotic, crazy unit. I’ve never known anything that was more right.”

Of Mariska and Peter’s three kids, two of them are adopted. While Mariska admits they’re “so private” about all of their children, she has been open about their choice to adopt.

“Having lost my mom at a young age, I then grew up with my stepmom, and I have half siblings, and so I know that families can be built in all sorts of different ways—that there isn’t just one way to create a family and that it isn’t just about biology,” the Law & Order: SVU star said. “”The easiest answer is we just wanted a bigger family and we feel incredibly blessed.”

Here’s everything you need to know about Mariska and Peter’s three children.

August Miklos Friedrich

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Two years after Mariska and Peter tied the knot, they gave birth to their first child on June 28, 2006. Their only biological son’s unique moniker is rooted in family history: August has been a name in Peter’s family for more than 200 years, Miklos was the name of Mariska’s late father, and Peter’s grandfather’s given name was Friedrich.

August is now a teenager—but Mariska fondly recalls the emotional day he was born.

“When I first heard August’s cry, that’s when I lost it,” she told People. “You have so much love that you didn’t even know about.”

Amaya Josephine

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Peter and Mariska began their adoption process soon after August was born and became parents again when their first daughter joined their family in April 2011.

Amaya Josephine, now eight years old, is originally from the United States. The couple was considering both international and domestic adoption before she was born, but they were “thrilled” when their “prayers were answered” with Amaya.

“We talked a lot about mixed-race adoptions, and we are very excited that we are now a multi-racial family,” Mariska said in 2011.

Andrew Nicolas

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Soon after Amaya joined Peter and Mariska’s growing family, they began to think about adopting another child down the line. The couple had no idea just how quickly they’d be welcoming a third addition.

Within a week of processing their second round of adoption paperwork in fall 2011, Mariska and Peter brought home their new son Andrew Nicolas.

Nearly eight years later, Mariska describes her youngest child as an “angel that fell out of the sky.”

Here’s to the happy family!

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Mariska Hargitay and Peter Hermann Open Up About Adoption and Their Unique Brood

Mariska Hargitay and Peter Hermann have created a successful 15-year marriage, but for the happy couple, their decision to adopt their two younger children was one that really strengthened their unconditional bond.

After the Law and Order: SVU star gave birth to their son August Miklos Friedrich in June 2006, the couple opted to adopt their next two children. They first welcomed now-8-year-old daughter Amaya Josephine in 2011 and then, four months later, son Andrew Nicolas to their family after his birth that summer.

“Having lost my mom at a young age, I then grew up with my stepmom, and I have half siblings, and so I know that families can be built in all sorts of different ways, that there isn’t just one way to create a family and that it isn’t just about biology,” Hargitay, 55, says in the latest issue of PEOPLE.

Want all the latest pregnancy and birth announcements, plus celebrity mom blogs? .

Image zoom Courtesy Mariska Haritgay

RELATED: Mariska Hargitay and Peter Hermann Reveal Laughter Is the Key to Their 15-Year Marriage

“We adopted Amaya, and Andrew, I always describe it as this angel that fell out of the sky, because he was a little unexpected,” the actress continues.

The decision to add two more children to their family, while surprising at first, was a pivotal moment in the pair’s marriage, and for the better.

“It’s something that happened very quickly, when adoption can take a long time,” Hargitay adds. “We were so beautifully and surprisingly … not because we’re not in sync, but surprisingly in sync about something so huge. So momentous.”

Image zoom Mariska Hargitay and Peter Hermann cover PEOPLE Cliff Watts

RELATED VIDEO: Mariska Hargitay on Her “Crazy, Chaotic” Life with Three Kids: “It’s Perfect for Us”

For Hermann, 51, the unconventional manner in which he and his wife increased their tribe only added to the love he has for his family of five.

“It’s funny, I always get so private about our kids, but I think that the easiest way or the easiest answer is we just wanted a bigger family and we feel incredibly blessed,” the Younger star tells PEOPLE.

Image zoom Mariska Hargitay and Peter Hermann

Adds the Emmy-winning actress, “I think there is such beauty in the divine architecture of how this family was built.”

For more from Mariska Hargitay and Peter Hermann, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

  • By Kate Coyne