These days, Sutton Foster has her hands full: she’s the star of TV Land’s hit show Younger and at home, she has a spouse, two dogs and a 15-month-old daughter, Emily Dale, whom she adopted in 2017.
“This is a whole new chapter in our lives,” says the actress, 43, in an interview for this week’s issue of PEOPLE of herself and husband Ted Griffin. “It’s been full, and amazing and exhausting and wonderful.”
And busy, surely. But after years of fertility struggles, Foster is relishing every single minute with the family she yearned for for so long.
“I was always trying to make sense of why it wasn’t working,” she says of their efforts to conceive. “I always thought, there has to be a reason. Now I realize Emily was so clearly meant to be our daughter. She was the reason!”
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It was in 2014 when, after a painful 2009 divorce from her first husband, actor Christian Borle, Foster met writer Griffin on a blind date.
“There was something about being with Ted that made me want kids,” she says. “He belonged in my family. I didn’t really understand the concept of motherhood until he came around.”
Admitting, “We started so late,” Foster was keen to try to get pregnant with Griffin as soon as they got engaged. When they didn’t succeed right away, Foster was baffled.
“I was so angry that it was so hard,” she recalls. “I’m so used to being the type of person where if I want to make something happen, I make it happen. It was really frustrating. And we were racing against the clock.”
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After a year and a half, the couple turned to in vitro fertilization. But two failed rounds of the fertility procedure led to a “breakdown.” Says Foster, “I was sobbing uncontrollably. And I was like, ‘We have to pursue other options.’ ”
After another IVF failed, Sutton and Griffin turned to adoption. “Where IVF was full of disappointment and heartbreak, adoption was so clearly what was meant to be for us,” she says.
Guided in part by close friends — Foster’s Younger costar Peter Hermann and his wife Mariska Hargitay (who themselves adopted two children) — the couple eventually found themselves in the hospital waiting for their daughter to come into the world.
And when it comes to one day sharing with Emily the story of how she became a part of their family, Foster vows to be honest and open. “I don’t want there to be any mystery or stigma or shame,” she says. “This is just her story. And I think that’s a really positive thing.”
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The former Bunheads star she’s open to the idea of expanding her family. “If I miraculously get pregnant, we’ll see!” she says. “We feel so lucky but I do feel like there may be another soul waiting to meet us.”
For now, she’s soaking up every joyful moment with her daughter. “I’m fascinated by Emily; she changes every day,” says Foster. “It doesn’t matter where she came from, my belly or someone else’s belly. When she was born, I was like, ‘What took me so long?’ And I realized I was waiting for her to come into my life.”
Younger airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. EST/9 p.m. CST on TV Land.
For more from Sutton Foster, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.