Gabrielle Union Had One Very Specific Quality She Looked for in Her Surrogate

"Race, religion, or food habits" didn't matter nearly as much.

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This past November, Gabrielle Union and THE Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade welcomed their first child together, a baby girl, via surrogacy. When the actress was picking her surrogate, though, she had an unusual checklist. There was one thing Union wanted most of all and it didn’t have anything to do with the usual bullet points.

“Some people care about the race, religion, or food habits of their surrogate,” she tells Women’s Health. “I was like, ‘I want a reader,’ ” as in someone who reads books. When Union ended up meeting the surrogate she used, there was one thing that tipped her off that she had found the right person: “She said, ‘I love the smell of the pages,’ ” as Union explained of her surrogate.

Beyond her surrogate, Union’s love of books plays a role in her everyday life. Outside of having written one—We’re Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated, and True—she turns to novels in her self-care routine. “Let me just get a chapter in,” she says.

In the same interview, Union opened up about her experience of expecting her first child. “People want to see the bump, hear that you got hemorrhoids—they want to know you’re like them,” she says. “I was like, ‘This is going to seem like the most Hollywood sh-t ever. Will I be embraced as a mom?’ It’s terrifying.”

Of course, when her daughter finally came, she fell naturally into the role of being a mom. “I was like, ‘Oh, my god, this is my baby,’ ” she recalls. “I wanted to fight everybody in that room for various reasons and no reason.”

Union has previously talked about how she knew she wanted to have a child with Wade, saying over a year ago, “I never wanted kids. Then I became a stepmom, and there was no place I’d rather be than with them…For so many women, and not just women in the spotlight, people feel very entitled to know, ‘Do you want kids?’ A lot of people, especially people that have fertility issues, just say ‘no’ because that’s a lot easier than being honest about whatever is actually going on. People mean so well, but they have no idea the harm or frustration it can cause.”