Nia Vardalos’ path to motherhood didn’t come easy. There were multiple rounds of IVF, unsuccessful surrogate attempts and several miscarriages before she finally turned to adoption—but even then, she hit hurdle after hurdle. She put her name on endless waiting lists for private adoptions, sent applications abroad to Greece and China… Nothing worked.
Then came a sign. Literally.
Vardalos saw a billboard near her home in LA—one she had driven by countless times—promoting foster adoption. One day, she pulled over and called the number. “[I] was surprised to learn how many children we have living in America, legally emancipated, living in residential homes and foster care,” says Vardalos, who was eventually paired with an almost three-year-old toddler.
The actress and screenwriter details the experience in her 2014 memoir, Instant Mom—which also doubles as an informative guide for people hoping to adopt, complete with a 25-page appendix filled with vetted research and resources. “Like many movie reviewers and studio heads, I often wondered why the success of my first movie [My Big Fat Greek Wedding] happened to me,” writes Vardalos, an advisory board member for HelpUsAdopt.org, our VB Gives Back partner. “Well, maybe this is the reason. Maybe I’m supposed to be using my big mouth to talk about adoption.”
Here, we chat one-on-one with Vardalos about her story.
What led you to adopt from foster care?
I had tried so many methods to become a mom, from traditional biology to international adoption, and then was surprised to learn how many children we have living in America, legally emancipated, living in residential homes and foster care.
What was the experience like?
It was difficult to understand the process, but then suddenly my experience was facilitated by an FFA, a foster family agency. This is a free service in every state—please Google it!
Most challenging part?
Believing it would happen.
Knowing what you know now, what's one piece of advice you would tell yourself at the start?
Your child is out there and will come to you.
Misconceptions about adoption you’d like to clear up?
I don’t want to clear anything up that people might think. I think everyone has their opinions and those who choose to research it, will. I am an advocate for choice—all choice, all free will.
What made you work with Becky Fawcett and HelpUsAdopt.org?
After I adopted my child, I saw their ad in a magazine and was intrigued by Becky’s work. I was touched by her goal of helping families defray the costs of adoption so I reached out and we became friends! (By the way, coincidentally, a wonderful stylist had sent me gorgeous Veronica Beard pieces for my book tour—I am a fan! )
Greatest lesson you’ve learned from your teenager?
For more on Vardalos’ adoption journey and insider tips, check out Instant Mom. Bonus: “All proceeds go to get kids adopted,” she adds. To date, information and proceeds from the book have placed 1700 children in permanent homes.
From now to the end of March, we will donate a portion of proceeds from every single veronicabeard.com order to HelpUsAdopt.org, which helps families in the U.S. overcome the financial obstacles of adoption. Learn more here. #VBGIVESBACK