The 27 Dresses actor opened up about how difficult it was to get time away from filming Grey’s Anatomy to bond with her newly adopted daughter at the time, Naleigh, who is now 13.
Heigl and her husband Josh Kelley adopted Naleigh in 2009. The baby came from South Korea and was just nine months old when she became part of the actor’s family.
In a recent appearance on The View, Heigl said: “Naleigh came to us at nine months, and three days later, I got on a plane and went to work in Atlanta.
“At the time, becoming a new mother, I was just like, ‘I got it! I can handle this’. They’ve told us we can have it all. We can have careers and have families, and it’s all going to be great.”
But working on set away from home impacted how much time Heigl got to see her daughter.
“I never saw that baby,” she said. “I was at work with three triplets who were playing my goddaughter, and I spent more time with them than I did with my new daughter.”
Heigl said that because of her absence, Naleigh bonded more with Kelley because “he was with her”.
“I was always afraid that I had missed that opportunity to really bond with her and that she didn’t love me,” the actor confessed.
The show’s producers played a throwback clip from 2012, when Naleigh was in the audience to support her mother while she did an interview.
It was the first time Naleigh had accompanied Heigl to The View. The clip showed Heigl talking about the adoption process while the camera pans to the young girl.
Naleigh makes eye contact with Heigl and proceeds to run up onto the stage to hug her. Rewatching the moment left Heigl in tears, as she dabbed at her eyes.
Elsewhere in the interview, Heigl was asked if she would let her children go into the modelling industry, which is where she began her career.
She joked in response: “Oh god, thanks. Thank you so much for that. Now my children have ammunition.”
Turning serious, Heigl said she would not “schlep” her daughter “all over the city” like her mother did while she was young.
“I mean, we were taking subways, hoofing it, we took the train into Grand Central. We went from one side of the city to the other side for go-sees and auditions and all this stuff.”
Heigl said that, while she wouldn’t put her children through that, she “loved” the experience.
“To me, it was like a really elaborate game of make-believe and I always loved make-believe,” the Grey’s Anatomy star said. “For some reason, I always cast myself as the secretary or the nurse. But now I cast myself as the doctor.”
Heigl and Kelley are also parents to 10-year-old daughter Adalaide, who was adopted from the US, and five-year-old Joshua, who is their biological son.