Pride Month

Soccer Stars Share Advice for Same-Sex Couples Hoping to Adopt

Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris both two-time World Cup champions, announced in February they had adopted a baby girl named Sloane

Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris
Roy K. Miller/ISI Photos/Getty Images

After talking for just a few minutes to soccer legends Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris, it's clear the two have a relationship most people will only be so lucky to one day have for themselves. What began with a solid "friendship foundation" has since evolved to include admirable amounts of love and respect.

The two-time World Cup champions, who play professionally in the National Women's Soccer League for the Orlando Pride, celebrated Valentine's Day this year by announcing to fans on Instagram they adopted a baby girl named Sloane Phillips.

The proud working moms spoke to TODAY about their first few months of parenthood, the importance of their visibility in the LGBTQ community and how their friendship, which began over 10 years ago, developed into one of the most notable marriages and examples of queer love.

Advice for same-sex couples hoping to adopt: 'Go for it'

As one of the most visible examples of a gay couple who have adopted, Krieger and Harris were happy to share some words of wisdom for same-sex couples who have been considering adoption.

"Go for it," Krieger said. "Try to just ask as many questions as you can because, you know, we obviously don't know everything and to kind of accept the help and guidance of other people who have been through the process or other agencies that can kind of give you all the tools that you need to go through this process."

She also emphasized the importance of asking trusted family members and friends for help "because this process isn't easy," but it's worth it because having a child is "the best gift in the world."

"A lot of couples might get discouraged if it doesn't happen the very first time, but I'm sure it will eventually and you just have to kind of surround yourself with your closest family, friends and people who love you to have that support because it was one of the most stressful experiences of our lives.

"But at the end of the day, it was the most worth-it experience that we've ever — we've ever been through together."

Harris echoed the importance of not shying away from asking loved ones for help, saying, "It's the biggest thing."

"Ali and I at the beginning were like, 'We can do this on our own. We got this.' We weren't sleeping, we weren't eating. ... You're trying to be professional athletes, and trying to be good teammates and then trying to be good partners," she said. "And finally we got to a place like, OK, we can totally ask for help, and there's nothing wrong with that. It doesn't make us bad parents; it doesn't make us weak."

Harris said she and Krieger asked their teammates to bring over dinner, and her mother-in-law would stop by to help with the laundry.

"Your world starts to pile up, but I really think the best advice is: Don't be scared to ask for help."

Life's only gotten sweeter with Sloane

Krieger, 36, and Harris, 35, got married in December 2019 but told TODAY having a family together has always been a priority for them, in addition to continuing their professional soccer careers.

"We just feel so full inside, and we're really enjoying being parents to Sloane, and just trying to set a good example and be a good guide for her through her life," Harris said. "Everything happened so quick, but I feel like we were just so ready.

"We've been building the foundation for so long, her and I, just making sure, first and foremost, that we are in a good place because we know if we're always in a good place, and she sees the love between us, that is an important factor for her in her development. So Ali and I actually spend a lot of time focusing on ourselves and our relationship, so that we're the best version for her."

When asked about the possibility of eventually adding more kids to their household, Harris said, "Absolutely."

"We really want to build a family ..." Harris said. "Not right now!" Krieger chimed in as Harris laughed.

"We want to finish out our career," Harris continued. "Sloane has been a taste of, you know, can we do it? I think it was a good test like, hey, can we be professional athletes? Can we have this career we've always wanted and dreamed of and be a mom? Because we wanted both, and Sloane showed us that we can."

Pro athletes including retired tennis star Martina Navratilova, Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Westbrook and many others shared messages of support for tennis phenom Naomi Osaka after she withdrew from the French Open, citing concerns about her mental health and the impact of media interviews on it.

In terms of when the next child will come, Harris said they "really aren't sure just yet," but she and Krieger "definitely want an army" of kids to surround their little girl.

"We want all the kids, right, Sloane?" Harris cooed to Sloane.

Until then, Sloane has some pretty cool besties in her corner to hang out with — Sydney Leroux's and Alex Morgan's kids!

Leroux and Morgan also play for the Orlando Pride and have shared photos from their children's play dates. Leroux is mom to son Cassius, 4, and daughter Roux, 1, and Morgan welcomed daughter Charlie in May 2020.

"Roux kind of just stares at (Sloane) and is just in awe of her, but she's still so young," Harris said of her daughter. "She's not like playing and running, you know, kind of messing around with them. Charlie can walk. So Sloane right now kind of just stares at them, and Cassius thinks it's hilarious. Cass is always wondering why she just stares. ... I think when she's a little more active, they're going to have the best time."

As for how Krieger and Harris' furry family members, pups Logan and Storm, feel about the newest addition to the home?

"They love her," Harris said. "They follow her around everywhere. When she cries, they kind of just sit right by her making sure she's OK."

Krieger noted one of the pups is especially "protective" of Sloane during walks around the neighborhood.

"You can tell she's very alert and aware, and she's very protective of her," Krieger added. "So it's kind of cute."

What they've learned about each other since becoming moms

Even though Krieger and Harris met over a decade ago, the two continue to learn new things about each other — especially as they've adjusted to mom life!

"I knew she was going to be an incredible mom from the very beginning right when we met," Krieger said about Harris. "She's just so loving. She has such a hard shell on the outside, but on the inside, she's super loving and caring and emotional. And seeing her with Sloane that way has been so incredible because it kind of has just opened up this whole, this whole other layer."

Harris commended her wife's multitasking abilities while running on little to no sleep.

"You know how they always say moms have superpowers — they're superheroes? I totally get it now. ... I'm just in awe of what she's capable of and how she holds the fort down and how much patience she has on such little sleep."

Krieger especially loves the parenting process, and her competitive nature sometimes shines through when it comes to who's holding Sloane.

"She's like, 'Uh, you've held her for three hours, and you've fed her twice already so can I have her?' And I'm like, oh, she's competing now," Harris joked.

The importance of visibility in the LGBTQ community and publicly sharing their relationship

The couple have been examples on the soccer field for most of their lives, but in more recent years, the two have been LGBTQ pioneers. They shared photos and other highlights from their 2019 wedding on social media and told Vogue about wedding details that highlighted their sexuality, like naming tables at the reception after famous LGBTQ figures like gay activist Marsha P. Johnson.

"I think that's kind of what we were going for with even having our wedding so public, is to really be more visible in our community and also in the country and to try to help with the acceptance," Krieger said.

"When we were younger, we didn't really have a lot of visibility. We didn't even know, like, two women could really be together," she continued.

Krieger noted there wasn't prominent LGBTQ representation on the internet and in the media while she was growing up, and that's why she and Harris wanted their wedding to be "as public as possible."

"We wanted to help save lives, we wanted to help normalize our relationship and normalize what being in a same-sex relationship is about. ... We can still be a beacon of hope and still be super happy for people, and I think that that was something that was really crucial in our decision and really critical in why we made it so public."

Harris added that visibility is "very, very important" to both of them.

"What you see is virtually what you can be and aspire to and have the understanding that, OK, maybe this is how I identify, maybe this has been the missing piece," she said.

"I just feel like for so much of my childhood I spent searching and trying to figure myself out in all the wrong ways. It's just like the visibility piece was a no-brainer for Ali and I."

The two first met at USWNT camp in 2010 and started off as friends. They didn't publicly confirm their romantic relationship, despite years of fan speculation, until March 2019, when they announced their engagement.

Harris said she and Krieger "always wanted to come out" but feared the response as they were playing for the same team and worried they may also lose sponsorships.

"We weren't sure how everyone would feel," she said. "It was quite the process and after talking a lot with our chosen family and our best friends, at the end of the day, we just got to the point where we wanted to live our truth, and if that meant losing everything, we were really willing to risk it."

Harris said after she and Krieger came out, they were met with an "overwhelming amount of support."

"I know not everyone has that type of experience and that type of support," she continued. "We clearly understand how scary it can be, and how isolating it can be and how difficult, like hiding, and not being able to live your truth and tell the people around you, like, how you feel. It was just liberating after we did it, and it was freeing.

"And I didn't feel like I was carrying this weight anymore, and I was able to freely hold her hand — and feel proud of her in public."

Harris then emphasized the importance of having a strong support system.

"There's nothing better than just being authentically you and living the way you choose to live," she said. "We have one life, and it's important that you're able to live it the way you see, is most appropriate to you, and not live your life for other people."

The couple also offered advice for people who may harbor romantic feelings for a friend but are hesitant to act on them.

"Well, just go for it, Ali sure did!" Harris said.

"Ashlyn and I took it very slow because we built this friendship foundation, which I valued so much, instead of just jumping right into it," Krieger said.

"Your feelings are your feelings, you've got to follow your heart," she added.

She said that foundation gave them "better tools to navigate" their relationship and credits that initial friendship as the reason they've been together for so long.

"We love each other, but we also really like each other."

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