December 05, 2011 12:00 PM

Enjoying a lazy morning at her L.A. home last June, Connie Britton got the phone call she’d been waiting three years for. “It was the adoption agency,” says the actress, best known as Friday Night Lights‘ straight-shooting mom Tami Taylor. But she had to wait a few more minutes for the good news. “The woman started off by asking me about the weather!” she says. Finally, her long quest to adopt a child from Ethiopia was over. “And the second I saw his picture, I was done,” says Britton, still emotional from the memory of first laying eyes on Yoby, now 9 months. “That was my son!”

While the single Britton, 44, had always longed to be a mom, it wasn’t until her father, Allen, died in 2008 that she realized, “What am I waiting for?” She decided to adopt from Ethiopia after spending time there working on a documentary and getting involved with the African Children’s Choir and Worldwide Orphans. When she went back to bring Yoby (a nickname for Eyob, his given African name) home, “it was such a wonderful moment of completion,” she says. “I was just grinning from ear to ear.”

The new mom has traded her home office for a nursery and happily swapped morning walks with her two dogs for 5 a.m. wake-ups with her little man. “He’s charming and charismatic, and his laugh is pure joy,” she says. Once she wraps American Horror Story’s season next month, Britton says she’s “definitely taking time off” to bond with Yoby-and would love eventually to find him the perfect dad. “I’ve always hoped to find a man that will be a great husband and father,” she says. “I have faith that I’ll find that. It’s just in a different order.”

YOBY’S first PICS!

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