Katherine Heigl recently opened up about her adoption experience and admits that although it was essentially rewarding, initial attempts to bond with her daughter were challenging.
The actress, 33, and husband of almost five years, Josh Kelley, adopted 10-month old baby Naleigh from South Korea in 2009, and Heigl spoke about the experience which at first left her feeling devastated.
"I fought very hard to be accepted as a mom by my daughter. Her rejection almost broke my heart," Heigl told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.
"People are always talking about the strong bond between mother and daughter, this magical connection – but we didn't have that. [The early days with Naleigh were] the hardest time in my life," she added.
The former "Grey's Anatomy" star became even more upset when she realized that Kelley, a singer, was easily able to bond with Naleigh almost immediately.
"I wasn't exactly jealous, but I was a little bit envious [of his and Naleigh's closeness]," Heigl admits.
In an attempt to distract herself from the immense rejection that she felt from Naleigh, Heigl threw herself straight back into work which she soon realized was not a good idea.
"[It] made the already difficult process of getting closer take even longer. When I realized that, I immediately cut back on work," Heigl said.
"At first I blamed myself and thought I was a bad mother. It took a while before I could admit to myself that the lack of trust had nothing to do with me," she said.
Naleigh, who is now four years old, did eventually open up to her mother, which Heigl says happened after she stopped pushing to be an "ideal" mother, according to Parent & Child magazine.
"It takes time for a child to trust this new situation and to trust you. My advice is don't be discouraged. The reward [of adopting] is so great," Heigl told the magazine.