As the mother of a black daughter, Katherine Heigl is feeling anguish over the death of George Floyd. The actress, who is married to musician Josh Kelley, has posted on Instagram that she’s finding it hard to sleep.
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Page 1. I’ve debated posting this. I don’t typically use my platform or social media to say much when it comes to the state of our country. I keep most of those thoughts to myself. I act quietly and behind the scenes. I let those with far more experience, education and eloquence be the voices for change. But I can’t sleep. And when I do I wake with a single thought in my head. How will I tell Adalaide? How will I explain the unexplainable? How can I protect her? How can I break a piece of her beautiful divine spirit to do so? I can’t sleep. I lay in my bed in the dark and weep for every mother of a beautiful divine black child who has to extinguish a piece of their beloved baby’s spirit to try to keep them alive in a country that has too many sleeping soundly. Eyes squeezed shut. Images and cries and pleas and pain banished from their minds. White bubbles strong and intact. But I lay awake. Finally. Painfully. My white bubble though always with me now begins to bleed. Because I have a black daughter. Because I have a Korean daughter. Because I have a Korean sister and nephews and niece. It has taken me far too long to truly internalize the reality of the abhorrent, evil despicable truth of racism. My whiteness kept it from me. My upbringing of inclusivity, love and compassion seemed normal. I thought the majority felt like I did. I couldn’t imagine a brain that saw the color of someone’s skin as anything but that. Just a color. I was naive. I was childish. I was blind to those who treated my own sister differently because of the shape of her beautiful almond eyes. Or her thick gorgeous hair. Or her golden skin. I was a child. For too long. And now I weep. Because what should have changed by now, by then, forever ago still is. Hopelessness is seeping in. Fear that there is nothing I can do, like a slow moving poison, is spreading through me. Then I look at my daughters. My sister. My nephews and niece. George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. The hundreds, thousands millions more we haven’t even heard about. I look and the fear turns to something else. The sorrow warms and then bursts into flames of rage.
“And when I do I wake with a single thought in my head,” she wrote. “How will I tell Adalaide? How will I explain the unexplainable? How can I protect her? How can I break a piece of her beautiful divine spirit to do so?”
Heigl and Kelley are parents to two adopted children, Naleigh and Adalaide, and one biological one, Joshua Jr. Heigl grew up with an adopted sister, Meg, who was born in Korea, and adoption was something she always planned on doing.
“Josh and I started talking about it before we were even engaged,” she told Scholastic. “I wanted my own family to resemble the one I came from, so I always knew I wanted to adopt from Korea.”
Heigl and Kelley became parents to Naleigh in September 2009. Heigl remembers receiving the call about the baby girl, who was born the day before her own birthday in November. She was told the baby had a heart condition.
“The beauty is that Josh’s father is a heart surgeon, and we were able to call him immediately and tell him about the condition,” she remembers.
She says she and Kelley knew they would adopt the little girl, no matter what. Fortunately, it turned out that her condition was able to be corrected, and her heart is now “perfectly healthy”.
As a new mum, Heigl faced some struggles dating back to the loss of her older brother Jason. Jason died at the age of 16 from injuries he received after being thrown from a pickup truck while out with friends. Heigl was just eight at the time.
“When I first became a mother, the idea of loving my children the way I did terrified me, because it could all be taken away,” she told Today Parents.