For Hugh Jackman, adoption was always on the table.
In the latest installment of The Jess Cagle Interview (streaming now on People TV), The Greatest Showman star opens up to PEOPLE editor-in-chief Jess Cagle about his and wife Deborra-lee Furness‘ journey toward becoming parents to daughter Ava Eliot, now 12, and son Oscar Maximillian, now 17.
“Because of her age, we started [trying] straightaway when we were together,” says the Australian actor, 49, who wed Furness in 1996 when he was 27 and she was 40. “We struggled, a couple miscarriages, [in vitro fertilization] — it was not easy. It was difficult, obviously particularly on Deb.”
“I remember saying to her, ‘We were always going to adopt — let’s just adopt now,’ ” he recalls.
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“Our motivation behind adopting was, ‘Where is the need?’ ” explains the father of two. “And we just knew from talking with people in that space, when we were looking around, that the biggest need is in mixed-race kids.”
“A lot of people go into [adoption thinking] it’s really important to them for the kid to look like them, and honestly, for Deb and I, that just never even was an issue,” says Jackman.
“I believe in life and I want to tell my kids that your personality is interesting, it in some way very much defines you, the color of your skin, whether you’re a male, whether you’re a female, but that’s not who you really are,” he continues. “What really defines you is beneath all that.”
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“It doesn’t matter what sexual [orientation] you are, it doesn’t matter what job you do, it doesn’t matter if your hair is straight or curly, if you’re tall or short, man or woman, what race you are,” Jackman elaborates. “What defines you as a human is underneath all that.”
The Greatest Showman is now playing in theaters.
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