Celebrity Parents Katherine Heigl on Talking to Her Kids About Racism: 'Can't Pretend That It Might Not Ever Happen' For more on Katherine Heigl, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday By Breanne L. Heldman Breanne L. Heldman Instagram Twitter Breanne L. Heldman is the Senior Editor of TV for PEOPLE. In this role, she oversees all television coverage — and coverage of TV stars — across print and digital. Heldman joined PEOPLE in April 2018 after two years as Senior Editor at Entertainment Weekly. Prior to that, she held editorial positions at Yahoo Entertainment, MTV, E!, and the New York Daily News. The Boston University alum and Cincinnati native frequently appears as an entertainment expert on programs such as Good Morning America, Access Hollywood and the People Every Day podcast and has moderated panels at Lincoln Center, 92Y, New York Comic Con and more. People Editorial Guidelines and Jen Juneau Jen Juneau Twitter Jen Juneau is a digital news writer for PEOPLE. A '90s teen and horror film connoisseur, she started at the brand in 2016, after a decade of working as a technical writer and then moonlighting as a journalist beginning in 2013. Originally from New Orleans, Jen grew up both in NOLA and Florida and eventually attended the University of Central Florida in Orlando (still her home base!), where she earned a bachelor's in English/technical communication, with a minor in magazine journalism. People Editorial Guidelines Published on February 4, 2021 03:41 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Katherine Heigl and daughter Adalaide Marie Hope . Photo: Katherine Heigl/Instagram Katherine Heigl is opening up about how she talks to her daughters Adalaide Marie Hope, 8½, and Naleigh Mi-Eun, 12, about racism. In an exclusive chat with PEOPLE for this week's issue, the Firefly Lane star reveals that growing up with a Korean sister gave her a "naïve" view in the sense that it "didn't feel unusual" for her to adopt two non-white children: Naleigh from South Korea in 2009 and Adalaide, who is Black, from Louisiana in 2012. "That has been a very complicated and oftentimes stimming conversation for [husband Josh Kelley] and me," admits Heigl, 42. "For all the obvious reasons, Josh and I felt like we had lived in a very light bubble our whole life. You don't even know that you are because it's just the world around you." "I even think when the girls came into our lives, I didn't assume everyone felt like I did, but I assumed the majority did — that the majority didn't see race and color," she adds. And when George Floyd was killed and the Black Lives Matter movement picked up speed, "I didn't know how to have this conversation with my daughters," Heigl says. Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories. Katherine Heigl's daughter Adalaide. Katherine Heigl/Instagram Katherine Heigl's daughter Naleigh. Katherine Heigl/Instagram Katherine Heigl Opens Up About the "Powerful" Bond She Has with Her "Sacred Six" Friend Group The Grey's Anatomy alum tells PEOPLE she "didn't know how to say" to Adalaide and Naleigh, " 'You are a divine child of God. You are valuable. You are important and worthwhile and beautiful and smart, but there will be some people who don't like you simply because of the color of your skin or the shape of your eyes.' " "I didn't know how to do that without feeling like I was destroying a piece of their soul," Heigl adds. "So I waited and I prayed. We live in our mountain bubble [at their ranch home in Utah] away from all of the intensity of it, so I was able to wait and pray." To tackle the subject with her girls, "I decided to try first to watch kid-friendly films and shows that dealt with race and racism," the mother of three shares. One film in particular, she recalls, "had to do with racist slurs and ugliness among white people and Black people," which prompted her to pause and speak to her younger daughter about what was happening onscreen. NBC/Getty Want to get the biggest stories from PEOPLE every weekday? Subscribe to our new podcast, PEOPLE Every Day, to get the essential celebrity, entertainment and human interest news stories Monday through Friday. Get a taste of the podcast below. RELATED VIDEO: Jessica Alba on "Devastating" Racism and How She Talks to Her Kids About It: "You Can Start Early" "I said, 'Adalaide, I want you to understand that if anybody ever spoke to you like that, if anybody ever called you those kinds of names or treated you like that, it has nothing to do with you. It has everything to do with them. Do you understand that?' " Heigl says. Adalaide's response? "She said, 'Yeah, I know. I already know that I'm really beautiful and super cool,' " the actress recounts, adding with a laugh, "I was like, "Okay. Well, then I guess we've done our job too well. Perhaps then we should work on some humility." Heigl jokes that she tells her girls she will "go find" and "hurt" anyone who says racist things to them, but in all seriousness, "I just want them to feel safe enough with us that they can tell us if they are hurt that way so that we, as a family, can come together and reduce that." "Because I can't pretend that it might not ever happen," she says. For more on Katherine Heigl, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.