Actress Joelle Carter on 'Justified' and Adopting a Baby Girl
Now, Carter, 38, stars as Ava Crowder in the critically-acclaimed FX series "Justified," which has been picked up for a third season.
Off screen, Carter and her husband, Andy Bates, recently adopted a baby girl they named Luna Rose.
When ParentDish caught up with the actress recently in New York, she couldn't stop gushing about motherhood and her new daughter.
ParentDish: Lots of amazing things are happening for you.
Joelle Carter: Yes, thank you.
PD: First up, motherhood.
JC: Yes, we just adopted my baby girl from birth, and she is now 8 1/2 months old and she is the sunshine of our lives. I mean, it is a lot of work and you have to reschedule yourself, but it is all worth it.
PD: What made you decide to adopt?
JC: We hadn't been able to get pregnant and they couldn't find a reason why. Since there was a time line when we wanted to start a family, for us, we decided to look into adoption. We found an agency that dealt with open adoption and we liked the idea that she would have a potential relationship with her birth family and not have all of those questions that can come with adoption.
PD: That sounds so brave.
JC: Even if you didn't tell them, I think their intuition would tell them something is off. I don't want my child to grow up and, at 16 or 17, find out they were adopted and ask, why was this kept from me? It is not a bad thing -- in fact, it is an amazing thing.
PD: What would you tell your daughter if she asks you why she was put up for adoption?
JC: There was this young girl who couldn't keep you, found us and loves you enough to find you the people she felt secure with. Plus, we really wanted you.
PD: The name Luna sounds so Hollywood.
JC: We were having a hard time agreeing on a name and one day a friend of mine and I were searching on the Internet and saw it. When my husband was coming up the stairs I said, "Luna," and he said, "I love it." As for Rose, it represents my parents.
PD: Where is Luna from?
JC: We stayed here and adopted in the United States because a lot of children here needed love.
PD: How would you describe the adoption process?
JC: You could potentially get matched, or maybe you bond with the birth mother. It is a lot like dating until you both decide there is a match. Then, there is always the risk the birth mother could change her mind. It is a very emotionally invested process, but, for us, we couldn't have found a better match.
PD: What is Luna like?
JC: She has our low-keyness. I mean, she is such a great little baby. She sleeps well, eats well and is always happy. We got blessed.
PD: How has the transition been from having no responsibility to having a tremendous amount of responsibility?
JC: It is hard to get used to. All of a sudden, you are not free to do what you want to do. It is a constant little job and, in the end, you may be exhausted, but then you see that smile and you realize it was all worth it.
PD: What was the best and worst advice you received on becoming a mom?
JC: Everyone has two cents, but the best advice was from my mother-in-law. She said trust your instincts. The worst advice we got was, "She might need a good spanking," but I won't say who said that one.
PD: Would you adopt again?
JC: Yeah, I hope so. We might wait until she is diaper-free so my husband doesn't remember how hard it was when she was an infant. (Laughs.)
PD: What lessons do you hope to teach Luna?
JC: To be good to yourself and create for the world. Feed your heart, be kind and be good to others.
PD: Your character, Ava Crowder, on "Justified" is both spontaneous and unpredictable.
JC: Yeah, that is pretty good. What I love about Ava is she has so many colors. She is sensitive, a survivor and a southerner. She is not only sexy, but there is a lot of Ava that has not been tapped and I think that is great because there is so much potential to grow her. She has the world in front of her because of her past relationship, but I know she will figure it out.
PD: Reality TV has become so popular. Why do you think a scripted series, like "Justified," is such a hit with viewers and critics?
JC: I think it is partially the writing and partially the cast. I also think it is a unique show in the fact that the flavor of it takes place in Kentucky. "Justified" has characters you can get involved with, and it has a network that stands behind it.
PD: Do you feel taking on a role like Ava is risky?
JC: Oh, yeah. She really uses her sexually and she wears her heart on her sleeve. She is also from a region where you learn to stand up for yourself and, because of that, I believe it is my duty to play her strength. I was promised good stuff for Ava if we made it to season number three, so I am holding them to it (laughs).
PD: You're also active with the St. Baldrick's Foundation. Tell me about that.
JC: I am impressed with how this organization works and I wanted to get involved with a children's charity. The first event I went to was a shaving event at a bar. When I got there, and I got involved with the "Let's Conquer" campaign they told me how every 3 ½-minutes a child is diagnosed with cancer and one out of four children won't survive, and when I heard that I was numb. It is so important to fund the research to help these children potentially survive and the ones that do survive have a better life than they may have right now. It is so rewarding for me to help these children.
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