Sutton Foster on 'Letting Go and Trusting' the Adoption Process: Our Daughter 'Was Cannonballing Towards Us'

The actress tells PEOPLE that relinquishing control of the situation doesn't come easily to her, but it brought her the family she has today: 'With perspective and clarity ... we just needed to get out of our own way'

Sutton Foster Instagram
Photo: Sutton Foster Instagram

Actress Sutton Foster is well-known for being a two-time Tony winner for her work on Broadway (she can next be seen in The Music Man), as well as starring in TV shows including Younger and Bunheads. But after she married husband Ted Griffin in 2014, she was ready for another role: mom. She recounts her career triumphs, personal hardships and struggles with infertility in her new book, Hooked: How Crafting Saved My Life — and in her own words, tells PEOPLE about how she came to welcome daughter Emily into her family via adoption, and what that's meant for her.

I was always on the fence about whether I even wanted to have children. I was always very career-driven, and I had such a tricky relationship growing up with my own mom … It was never clear cut for me. I married in my 30s; it didn't last, but one thing it did give me was this little inkling that I wanted to maybe have a family.

When I met my husband, it was the first time that I finally went, "Oh, I get it. I understand why people have families." But I was 39 when we got married and I never even thought... I mean, I'd spent my entire life trying not to get pregnant. So the minute I tried to get pregnant, I was like, "Oh, it's going to be so easy." But it wasn't easy for us.

Listen below to Me Becoming Mom to hear Jillian Michaels' adoption journey and her unique road to motherhood.

We initially pursued fertility treatments, and those didn't work for us. And I finally had sort of … I call it the Tokyo breakdown: I was doing some concerts in Tokyo, and I had just gone through a second round of IVF, and I had this massive breakdown in our hotel room. I had always come from this place where, if I wanted to make something happen, I'd make it happen. And it just doesn't work that way with trying to get pregnant or even creating a family: It comes to everyone in different ways, and I couldn't force it to happen.

We had all these roadblocks, but as soon as we started pursuing adoption, it was like the roadblocks were going away. I can look back on it now with perspective and clarity. It was like our daughter was cannonballing towards us, and we just needed to get out of our own way. The universe was like, "Will you just [stand back] — I got this!"

Sutton Foster Instagram
Sutton Foster Instagram

It was a pretty remarkable journey to finding our family. And she was the missing piece; I just can't imagine life without her. I feel so blessed that an incredibly brave and strong woman entrusted us to raise her.

Going into the adoption process, I didn't know what to expect. Initially I thought there was just this big database of babies. Like, you just put in your credentials and they're like, "Here's your baby!" I just didn't know at all that it was much more complicated than that.

There are so many legal parameters and processes, and I'm incredibly grateful for all of them. You really had to ask yourself a lot of questions, really sit down and think about it. You're adopting this child, but you are also adopting a whole other family. This child comes with a whole other story and that's part of your life now, too.

And while you're going through it, emotionally you really have to let go and trust that if this child is meant to be in your life, the child will be in your life. And if it's not, then that child will go on another path. The hardest thing for me was that I really had to let go and trust that if it was all going to work out, it would.

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Sutton Foster Instagram
Sutton Foster Instagram

Foster writes in her book that when they got word that they might be adopting Emily, they kept the news very secret — from her Younger castmates, many friends, even their doorman. And she says she'd do that again today.

I'm thrilled to be talking to you about adoption, but there's a whole other story about people who have to make really hard choices. For birth parents, it's an incredibly difficult decision. I want to honor Emily's birth mom. I love her so much; she's part of my family. I'm so grateful to her.

So leading up to Emily's arrival, it was about them, it was about the baby, and it wasn't about us yet. And it's still about them; we have an open adoption. My story expanded, my world expanded, because it's Emily's world.

Sutton Foster Instagram
Sutton Foster Instagram

Foster and Emily's birth mom both share a love of crocheting, and each worked on baby blankets for Emily's arrival. And in her book, she recounts many other instances of crafting representing love or healing; her Younger costar Peter Hermann, himself a parent through adoption, called her a "weaver of people" at the series wrap party.

[Having these connections in the adoption community] is incredibly important. My co-star in Music Man, Hugh Jackman, has two adopted children as well, so we talk about it a ton. And then what's amazing with adoption is that once you join the club of adoption, you meet people every day. You just immediately begin to start making these connections because you know that the road will be need to be navigated.

One of the biggest pieces of advice I got from parents that had adopted was to talk about adoption early, when the baby's, like, a day old, so that you learn the vocabulary, so there isn't like a day when they go, "Wait, what?" It's just part of their story.

There's never been a big reveal, it's just part of who she is. We created her a children's book with pictures to tell her story, so we can read it with her. It's a really wonderful way to help her understand, normalize it: This is just how she came to be in our wonderful life. I know she will have more and more questions as she gets older. And then I will seek out more help for how to navigate it. Foster/Instagram
Sutton Foster/Instagram

When pursuing adoption, it's all about letting go and trusting that everyone's journey is different. You have to just be completely open. You have to completely let go and just trust the journey. But it's a beautiful one.

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