'Everyone was shocked,' Adrienne said of her choice to keep the pregnancy a secret.
Adrienne Bailon Houghton refers to her experience welcoming a son via surrogate as an "absolute miracle," reaffirming her choice to keep the pregnancy a secret until birth.
Though Adrienne had historically been very open about her struggles to conceive with her husband, Israel Houghton, the stress from her eight IVF attempts and one miscarriage left her feeling extremely vulnerable. When she and Israel learned their hired surrogate was successfully pregnant with what they believed to be the couple's final viable embryo, she decided to go in a different direction.
"Honestly, everyone was shocked," Adrienne tells People.
She only told six others about the pregnancy, and was able to keep the impending news away from the public -- including her dedicated The Real fanbase -- until announcing the baby boy's arrival on Aug. 16. "Even my sister, who watched The Real throughout the whole last season, literally said to me, 'Adrienne, I am impressed.' She's like, 'I am so proud of you. You are really holding this.' I did that because it was really sacred to me." she says.
Keeping the secret ended up being essential for staying calm during a potentially stressful nine months.
"It was important to me for my own mental wellbeing and for my family," Adrienne says. "I was just like, 'I'm just not going to say anything.' It was actually very peaceful that way. You didn't have other people's opinions."
"I got to be honest, even the process of surrogacy can be quite nerve-wracking," she adds. "Somebody else has your child with them. We call it extreme babysitting for nine months. It can cause you to be really anxious. You're just thinking, 'Oh, is everything going okay? What's happening?' I feel like having people ask me, 'How's everything going?' That was going to make me that much more anxious, so I just wanted to have peace and have a little joy that I could hold for myself every day and something to look forward to."
Baby Ever James, whose name was inspired by Adrienne and Israel's wedding hashtag #happilyeverhoughton, was born at an Airbnb in Lake Tahoe, California.
"It's an absolute miracle," Adrienne says of the day. "The birthing experience was incredible. We had multiple doulas. I had a doula for me. She had a doula for her that looked after her for aftercare. Same for me, someone that was there for me emotionally, anything that I needed physically. It was a family affair and absolutely beautiful."
Of course, Adrienne's high hopes have never been a secret. She told ET in 2019 that she couldn't wait to become a mother.
"I think that would be the next chapter, building a family and still being able to do all the things that I do," she said at the time. This June, she also told ET that her biggest goal for the next decade would be focused on her future kids.
"I want to be a healthy person. I want to be that because, to be honest, I didn't have that in my life and even now my mom is like, 'Do it for your future kids because you want to lead by example,'" she said. "So, that, for me, would be really important. Not for like, 'Oh, I want to look hot in a bikini' but I actually want to live a healthy lifestyle and be an example of that to my kids."
Upon further testing, Adrienne and Israel learned she has five embryos left. Despite the stressors of her journey so far, hope of carrying her own pregnancy still endures.
"That's the ultimate dream for me," Adrienne tells People. "I'm not giving up on that dream. Maybe I will carry one day and I can't wait for that. I'm still hoping for that."