Connie Britton is opening up about her adoption journey.
In an interview on the Armchair Expert With Dax Shepard podcast, the White Lotus star, 55, spoke about why she chose to adopt her son Eyob, 11, from Ethiopia in 2011, while offering insights to other single women who are considering adoption.
"Frankly, being a single mom is not easy," she said. "It was my choice but it wouldn’t necessarily have been my dream."
As Britton explained, the actress' adoption journey began in the late-2000s when she felt a calling to help children in Ethiopia after seeing pictures of orphans suffering in that region. “I remember looking at [the photos] and thinking, ‘This is something that I’d love to be able to do,'" she said.
“I remember when I first went to Ethiopia and was going to orphanages, I came back and was really paralyzed about the whole thing. Where do you start?” At the time, she initially hoped to make a documentary about orphans in Ethiopia — but the project went unfinished.
“Quite honestly, my decision to adopt was less about ‘I’m going to save an orphan,’ because that felt like a drop in the bucket,” she explained. “Beyond that I just had a really strong affinity to the people and to the culture, and it just felt like something I was drawn to do.”
The calling became clearer when, around the same time, she lost both of her parents within three years of each other.
“Losing both of my parents, I had this very primal feeling of feeling like an orphan,” she explained. “Even when you’re an adult and you have a very fortunate life, still, there’s something very primal about it. It was pretty life changing.” Everything became clear in that moment. “I was like ‘Oh, wow. It’s just me and my sister, my twin sister, and she’s on the other side of the country. What am I waiting for? … I’m not waiting anymore. I know I’m going to adopt from Ethiopia. I’m going to start the process of that.’”
Britton said it took two years “from beginning to end” to officially adopt Eyob.
“During the second year of waiting, the adoption numbers went from 50 a day to like five a day,” she said. “At any moment I thought they were going to shut [the adoption process] down entirely. But it worked out, and I feel really fortunate because you can’t really do that anymore.”
"First of all, adoption is a very tricky process in its own right and it's become much more so [since then]," she said of the difficult adoption process many people face. "It's tragic that, really, international adoption is not a great option now. Most countries have really closed that off, which is not a reflection at all on how many orphans there are in the world.
"There are still children that are being left on the side of the road, parents are dying," she explained. "It's just that now there are limited structures in place for how to care for them. So it's not that it's any less of a problem, but along with the other things that are happening in the world people are becoming very insular in the way that they’re thinking about themselves."
As a white mother of a Black child, she also acknowledged that while some might consider that "unusual," it never even crossed her mind.
“At that time it never even occurred to me that it would be considered unusual to be a white adoptive mother to a child of color,” she explained, adding that in the last couple years — as the world continues to have conversations about race and police brutality — it's brought it more into focus.
“With what’s happening in the world right now, I’m feeling more like an anomaly," she said. "I never even used to think about it, versus 11 years ago... perspectives have changed in so many different directions [since then].”
Knowing what she knows now, Britton acknowledges for many women, family planning either through egg-freezing or considering adoption is important — even if that thinking is, “‘Guess what? I don’t even want to have a kid.'"
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