In a scene from the new jewel heist film Ocean’s 8, Cate Blanchett’s character asks Sandra Bullock’s master thief, Debbie Ocean, why she “needs” to steal millions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Gala. Debbie replies, “‘Cause it’s what I’m good at.” Sandra could say the same for herself — about motherhood. “I finally realized, ‘Oh, this is what I was supposed to do when I grew up!’” Sandra just revealed about raising her kids, Louis and Laila. “Not be an actress; be a mom.”

Motherhood nearly passed her by. Then, in 2005, “[Hurricane] Katrina happened in New Orleans,” Sandra, who turns 54 in July, shared. “Something told me my child was there. It was weird.” In 2010, the same year she won an Oscar for playing a devoted mom on-screen in The Blind Side, she brought home her adopted son, Louis, now 8.

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“I looked at him like, ‘There you are,’” she recalled. “He fit in the crook of my arm and he looked me in the eyes.” And now, with her daughter Laila, 5, whom she adopted in 2015, and boyfriend Bryan Randall — whom an insider told Closer “is an amazing, dedicated father” — Sandra is very clear about how her life has changed. “[Motherhood] is my purpose,” she said emphatically. “I don’t leave that much and I don’t work that much anymore, either. My priorities are my kids. That’s it.”

What may seem like a big change to fans, who’ve followed her career from hits like Speed to Gravity, makes perfect sense to Sandra. “I knew it at a very young age,” she said of her maternal instincts. “I think my mother saw that. She’s like, ‘Please, [don’t have kids] that young, not 17, honey!’” So she launched her acting career, and married Monster Garage motorcycle builder Jesse James in 2005. But even as her marriage crashed five years later, Sandra forged ahead with her plans for a family. “I had to become the mom I was supposed to be for the kids that were waiting for me,” she said.

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Sandra credits Louis for leading her to Laila. One night with friends, Louis, then 3, announced, “I don’t have daughters but I’m going to have a baby soon.” Sandra marveled, “That would have been around the time Laila was born. Is it coincidence?” Her love for her kids is so powerful it chokes her up. “Lou is super sensitive,” she said. “He’s wise and kind.” Of Laila, she shared, “She’s a fighter. She fought to keep her spirit intact. Oh my god, what she is going to accomplish!”

Sandra wants to set a good example for her kids, too. She donated $500,000 to the Time’s Up movement and insists, “We’re raising our children to be fearless. At least I hope I’m raising my kids that way.” And with Bryan, a photographer, who she jokes is “sort of No. 1” with her kids “because he’s more fun and has better treats,” she hopes to inspire others to adopt.

“You’re a forever parent the minute you accept the love of that child,” she recently said, tearing up. “The beautiful thing [is], I was constantly told, ‘The perfect child will find you. You will find your child.’” And she did.

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