“My dad is not my biological father. So when I was younger and they let me know that I wasn’t blood-related to that whole side of my family … I was, like, 5,” Dawson, 39, told Us while discussing her Quaker partnership on Wednesday, December 12. “Growing up in the neighborhood that I grew up in, I was like, ‘Oh, so then I could be like some of my friends who have single parent households. Like, that could be me.’ So I remember I told my mom at 5 that when I got older I was gonna adopt and I was gonna adopt older.”
She continued: “‘Cause even though I had my dad, my dad had met me. He was the first person to meet me that wasn’t blood family when I was only a couple weeks old. And they got married when I was 1 year old. So I didn’t know any different of him being my dad, but it occurred to me, like, ‘OK, I was a cute baby when you decided to do that. What if it was right now? What if all of these years Mom and I had been on our own? Would someone wanna come in now and be my dad, you know?’”
Dawson noted that she came up with the idea to adopt an older child “very, very clearly” at that point. “I thought that it had happened,” the Jane the Virgin star recalled. “I have a friend who has a school and a bunch of different projects she works on in Sierra Leone, and I went out there for this opening of this maternal health care center. And I met this little boy Mamadou, and I sponsor him and his family and I’ve been doing that for years. And I thought that’s how it had turned, it had come up in life … but then here we are.”
Though the Daredevil alum was set on her idea for decades before adopting (Us confirmed in December 2014 that Lola had become a permanent member of the actress’ family), the mother-daughter duo still struggle at times. “I talked to a lot of social workers and stuff, and they say that’s one of the most difficult things about adopting an older child is that you missed out on those younger years, so you really … I mean, for any parent that I speak to, they say it goes by like this. I mean, but especially if you get your child at 11, it really does go like this,” she explained. “And so it’s alarming. It’s like, ‘You’re eye-level with me.’ This is a lot.”
Dawson makes a point to spend quality time with Lola as a result: “I’m selfish with as much time. … I work a lot and I’m traveling, and I want her to be able to come with and do as much stuff with me as possible.”
The Rent star also uses her own teenage experiences to guide her daughter. “I had started acting at 15. So I really, I had such a different level of responsibility on myself and just different things that I was juggling at her age,” she told Us. “And so for me, it’s just trying to extend to her that this is her time. This is hers to just … I don’t have any other expectations for her than to just explore her likes and dislikes and to kinda just get to know herself as a person and be able to then present herself into the world that way.”
With reporting by Christina Garibaldi
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