TODAY

TODAY   |  April 02, 2013

Nia Vardalos opens up about infertility struggles

The “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” actress is speaking out for the first time about her rocky road to motherhood in her new book, “Instant Mom.” She talks to TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie about her multiple rounds of IVF and the adoption of her daughter, saying, “I’m supposed to be her mother.”

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> day it remains the highest grossing romantic comedy of all-time. she's still acting and has another project in the works, motherhood, she chronicles her bat well infertility that led her to adoption in a new book called "instant mom." good morning to you.

>> good morning.

>> let's get one thing right out of the way. we know you and love you from "my big fat greek wedding " where you talk about your fictionalized greek family, this was hard to write a story that is so raw and so personal.

>> i'm terrified actually, right now this is the moment where i am going to talk for the first time publicly about what i went through and how it led us to our daughter, and writing a book is brand new territory even though i make fun of my family in my screen plays for fun and profit, this is new to talk about my personal life but i'm doing it because my husband and i are taking the proceeds and we are going to share them among so many groups and get some kids adopted.

>> you mentioned your daughter so we know this story has a happy ending . we are going to show some pictures that have your daughter in them. we're not showing her face because you want to maintain her privacy.

>> yes, i'm walking a fine line with the book, telling the truth about what happened because when i was in my situation of trying to find ways to adopt, all over the world, it was difficult and this is the book that i wished was out there. the back of the book is 25 pages of how to adopt from all over the world, because every child deserves a home and maybe we can find a place for them with the book.

>> let's talk about your journey because as you say it was a long one and it was a painful one. you went through ivf treatments, infertility treatments 13 times. anybody who has ever been through it or knows someone know it's heartbreaking and disappointing.

>> i am very persevering and tenacious, i call myself a fearless idiot but at the point you do one after another after another it's because you're so in the pursuit of being a mother. i would do it again and ultimately everything that didn't work, every match that didn't work with an infant that led us to adopting our daughter who was almost 3 when we met, we had 14 hours ' notice and she walked in our door and i would do it all again because i'm supposed to be her mother.

>> and that's your perspective on this journey. when people think about you and think of your joyousness and exuberance, at the time you were at the height of success, oscar nomination day you were going through this infertility process.

>> yes, i was keeping the secret because of that. i felt that to admit that i felt like a failure inside was not what my public persona was of being so happy and now, when you talk to women you sit around having coffee and talk to women and so many women have gone through this, so this is my way of saying you know what? you are not alone. it happens. it happens to a lot of us and there's no shame in it.

>> you just mentioned a few moments ago when you did get matched with elaria, set the theme. you get the news in 12 hours you'll have a little girl .

>> she came to live with us within 14 hours notice. ian and i met her, drove to a parking lot . the way it works with american foster care you have a chemistry meeting. the social workers were holding her in her arms, i knew nothing of her, a brown haired almost 3-year-old little girl in someone's arms and she turned and looked at me and my first thought was oh, i found you. so that's it. now i know, this is what i went through and i think, i always think like a lot of reviewers in studio heads, why did the success of "my big fat greek wedding " happen to me, now i think i'm supposed to be using my big mouth to talk about adoption.

>> you have been candid about it, a 3-year-old little girl who had a hard life at that point and it wasn't easy, it wasn't overnight she adjusted although i know you loved her overnight.

>> yes, oh man that adjustment, i write honestly in the book what happened from the minute she came to live with us. it was eyes downcast, she was withdrawn, she got very angry the next day. she bit my finger to the point where i was like, medic! it was really, really hard. she wouldn't let us hold her or kiss her and i'm here today because within six months, by the time we finalized her adoption she was completely transitioned, and loving and attentive and attached, and that's the fear that people have.

>> that's the fear you speak to in this book, i know that's why you're coming out because i think people are afraid to adopt an older child out of fear there may be some damage that's irreparable and you're here to say that's not true.

>> it's strange, isn't it, we'd be more likely to take in a dog we found in the street. i say in the book a dog who could eat your face while you're asleep and yet here are these children and there are so many children, 130,000 legal emancipated children in the u.s., children in every country that need a home, so i always say if you're looking to adopt in the u.s., follow the laws of your state, it's different for every state and if you're looking to go abroad, please do, go wherever you think your child is.

>> nia vardalos , it's great to see you and hear yu story and happy ending . .