Mariska Hargitay and husband Peter Hermann are now the blissed-out parents of three: biological son August, 5, plus daughter Amaya and son Andrew, both born and adopted in 2011.
But before the Law and Order: SVU actress, 48, and theater star Hermann adopted Amaya and Andrew, the spouses of over seven years took in another infant -- only to have the adoption process heartbreakingly reversed, she reveals in the May issue of Good Housekeeping.
Adopting a newborn little girl, "this little angel," Hargitay said, and taking her home for two days -- even naming her -- the couple got a shocking phone call.
"The long and short of it: The birth mother changed her mind," Hargitay confesses to the magazine tearfully. "It was nothing short of devastating. But . . . this is what I've come to understand about life: It was probably the greatest, happiest ending. I mean, it was so painful for us, but it was deeply joyful and deeply right for her."
Shortly thereafter, the heartbroken couple's attorney and social worker connected them with another expectant mother -- who was carrying Amaya, who celebrates her first birthday this month.
Amaya's biological mother agreed to allow Hargitay to help her deliver the baby.
"I basically pulled Amaya out," she says. "Peter and I held her, and then the birth mother and I hugged for a long time. That was profound. That was one of the most meaningful moments I've ever had in my life."
The unexpected moments just kept on coming 2011. Later that year, they were alerted of another baby in need -- a boy born two months premature in another state, being released from a neonatal intensive care unit.
"I don't really know what to say about it, other than it was a no-brainer," she said of adopting Andrew in October. "Peter and I both thought, Let's do it! I'm in!" she says. "It was like . . .a miracle. And I don't use that word lightly. I've never made a bigger decision so quickly. The whole thing happened in a total of two days."