Charlize Theron talks 'emotional hell' of first adoption: 'I went through eight different situations'

Charlize Theron will never forget the first night she brought home her second daughter, August, to join her and her eldest daughter, Jackson. “I had her monitor next to the crib,” Theron said, “and I heard Jackson whisper to August, ‘I wished you.’”

The sweet moment had been a long time coming.

As the Oscar winner explained to designer Diane von Furstenberg on Thursday’s episode of the fashion mogul’s InCharge With DVF podcast, Theron had wanted to adopt since she was 8. She thought it was finally the perfect time three decades later.

“I was leaving a relationship, a long, almost 10-year relationship. In the last couple of years of that relationship, I really wanted to become a mother, and it didn’t happen,” said Theron, who dated actor Stuart Townsend for nine years before they reportedly split in 2010. “And so when the relationship ended, I think it was, like, the next morning, I wanted to file for adoption. So I found an adoption lawyer here in Los Angeles, and I filed not only domestically but also internationally.”

As the South African native has mentioned in the past, she didn’t specify anything about the child she wanted to raise except that the child should come from a place where there was “a real need.”

“The first time around for me was definitely emotional in the sense that, I think, I went through eight different situations, and they didn’t work out,” Theron said. “But you get emotionally attached. Each one of them I would be made aware of the mother and, three or four months later, something would come up and the adoption would fall through or the person would just disappear, and we wouldn’t hear from her again. All of those things, you know, over a two-year period is very emotionally draining. Now that I can reflect back on it and have perspective, I know that I had to be the way it was because I know that Jackson was supposed to be my child, even though it took two years of emotional hell. She was supposed to be my baby.”

Theron finally brought home Jackson in 2012. Her younger daughter, adopted in 2015, was a different story.

“Weirdly, the second one was very fast. She was the first baby that we were made aware of,” Theron said. “I was in London and, you know, Jackson really wanted a baby sister, and I had to explain to her that that’s not really how adoption works.”

Specifically, Jackson wanted a brown baby sister, and she was thrilled when Theron ended up with baby August. Hence the sweet whispered message in the crib.

“So the thing that was really eye opening to me was my children kind of came to me in this unexpected way where I didn’t know I was going to be the mom to two African American girls. I didn’t know I was going to be the mom to an African American trans girl,” Theron said of Jackson. “All of these things have kind of made me more aware of how little I know. My children have completely reopened my eyes to the world. And I jokingly always say, ‘I’m back at university. I’m back having to learn every single day, because they challenge me in that way.”

The Bombshell actress said her girls are very different from one another. She finds herself adjusting her parenting methods with each of them.

“My one child is very sensitive. The other child, much tougher skin. She doesn’t carry her emotions on her sleeve. She’s way more independent. They’re just very, very different,” Theron said. “And so I have to kind of monitor and modulate my parenting with them, because one style isn’t going to work for both of them. And that took me a little while to figure out, because I wasn’t raised with siblings and so it’s new to me to have to kind of use different techniques with the two of them. But I’m also still learning.”

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