Ever since she was a little girl, Weeds star Mary-Louise Parker dreamed of adopting a child. The Emmy-nominated actress recently discussed her family of three with PEOPLE at a benefit for Worldwide Orphans Foundation. The 44-year-old single mother of 5-year-old William Atticus, her son with former boyfriend Billy Crudup, made her childhood dream a reality when she went to Africa with Worldwide Orphans and made Caroline Aberash, whom she calls Ash, part of her family.
On always wanting to adopt: “I would daydream about it all the time. I thought about the fact that there were children who didn’t have anything, and I felt like I could help. It was something that weighed on me.”
On adopting her daughter Ash from Africa: “It was something I did for the world and for my son and then for me. And when I say the world, I also mean my daughter. Once I knew her, she became part of that. But it’s hard raising two kids as a single person. It’s a lot of pressure.”
On wanting a full-time partner to share the pressures of parenthood: “Sometimes, sure,” says Parker, who has been single since her relationship with actor Jeffery Dean Morgan ended earlier this year. “I wish I could give them everything that was a perfect little family paradigm, but I can’t. Honestly, I feel like that doesn’t even exist, or at least I try to tell myself that when I am feeling bad about not providing it.”
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On preparing William for the adoption: “I didn’t want to give him too much time to ruminate about it. I talked to him about adoption and asked him what he thought about it, so he understood what it was all about. Then one day he said out of the blue, ‘Mommy, a brother or sister is something that I don’t have, so I think that we should go to the store and get me a brother or sister.'”
On William’s reaction that the baby was coming in August: “His response to that was, ‘Is that today August?’ When I said no, he said, ‘Good, because I want to go to the park.’ When the time came to go to Africa, you’ve never seen anyone more excited – never ever.”
On her daughter Ash, who turns 3 in August: “She’s really tough. She can hurt herself and then get up and dust herself off. But at the same time, she’s really girlie. For her, it’s all about purses and panties and sunglasses. She has a massive ‘fro that she loves to put flowers in.”
On the joy of motherhood: “Sometimes I just look at them and I think, You are the two coolest people I have ever met. I was getting ready to come here tonight and my son came up to my trailer and said, ‘Where are you going, my beauty?’ I hear that, and I don’t really need anything else.”