April 10, 2012 at 8:19 AM ET
Though they're closer than ever now, Katherine Heigl admits her bond with her daughter Naleigh, 4, didn't come easily.
Heigl, 33, recently opened up to German newspaper Bild am Sonntag about adopting Naleigh, then 10-months old, from South Korea in 2009.
Initially, Heigl tells the paper, her daughter didn't respond to the affection she lavished on her. "I fought very hard to be accepted as a mom by my daughter," Heigl shares. "Her rejection almost broke my heart."
Naleigh's response left the actress questioning whether she would ever make a good mother -- and it didn't help that Heigl's hubby of nearly five years, Josh Kelley, won over their daughter almost immediately. "I wasn't exactly jealous, but I was a little bit envious (of his and Naleigh's closeness)," Heigl admits.
Feeling more helpless than ever, the former "Grey's Anatomy" star chose to focus on her work -- which helped her get by in the short-term, but ultimately, didn't do much to help Naleigh get to know, or trust, her new mom.
"The minute I realized (that), I immediately stopped working so much," Heigl says, explaining why she chose to leave "Grey's Anatomy." The more time Heigl and Naleigh spent together, the closer the mother-daughter pair grew.
In January, Heigl also spoke to Parent & Child about her struggles during the adoption process. Still, she says, she'd do it all over again -- and encourage others to follow in her footsteps.
"It takes time for a child to trust this new situation and to trust you," she told the mag. "My advice is don't be discouraged. The reward (of adopting) is so great."
And, Heigl adds, once she stopped putting pressure on herself to fit the mold of the "ideal" mom, the star settled into a groove with her new daughter. Though Kelley might be the fun, boisterous parent, "I'm the cuddler," Heigl revealed. "I'm the one she comes to if she's hurt. And I have a ritual for putting her to bed. She has one blankie that goes over her, one that goes by her face, and one that she holds. It's our little thing."