Call Her Mom

UPDATED 07/03/1995 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 07/03/1995 at 01:00 AM EDT

SHE WAS ACTUALLY RELIEVED, Connie Chung insisted to her friends in the days after her ouster as Dan Rather's coanchor on the CBS Evening News. What she didn't tell them was the reason for her relief. At 48, after years of struggling to have a child and failed attempts at adoption, Connie Chung was becoming a mother.

Chung had learned on May 18 that she was losing the coanchor spot and, days later, that she was being dropped as host of the low-rated newsmagazine show Eye to Eye with Connie Chung. After months of bad reviews, this was the most public of disappointments, and it followed a deeply felt private setback. The week before, Chung and her husband of more than 10 years, top-rated talk show host Maury Povich, 56, were told that an adoption they had been planning for months was falling through. Then, just four days after Chung was dumped from the anchor spot, the couple learned that the adoption was going to work out after all. "One door closed and another one opened," says a close friend. "It was," he adds, using the Hebrew word for a good deed, "a pure mitzvah."

On June 19 the couple shared their good news. "We are happy to confirm," they said in a statement, "that after a long period of waiting we have adopted a boy, Matthew Jay Povich."

Their difficulties having a child became public five years ago, when Chung announced she was cutting back her schedule on the newsmagazine show Face to Face with Connie Chung because "I now need to take a very aggressive approach to having a baby." A short time earlier, she had suffered a miscarriage. By June 1993, she was approaching 47, and the couple's attempts at in vitro fertilization had failed. "It hasn't been easy for us," she told PEOPLE that year. Povich, who has two grown daughters from an earlier marriage, agreed. "We've been disappointed," he said, "but we're not discouraged."

More disappointments followed. Maury's brother David, a Washington attorney and Matthew's godfather, says that previous attempts at adoption didn't work out. "This wasn't the first time they tried," he says. "But this was the first time it worked." According to a source close to Povich, the couple followed all the "normal procedures" involved in a private adoption. Beyond that, the baby's date of birth and any details about his birth parents are being kept private.

A source close to Povich says that Matthew was circumcised in a traditional Jewish bris on June 16. Povich is Jewish, and Chung converted to Judaism shortly after marrying him in 1984. Chung's friends have been showering the infant with gifts—after recovering from the shock. One of the newscaster's closest colleagues from Eye to Eye says she was grocery shopping when she spotted the headline Connie Chung Adopts Baby Son on the cover of the National Enquirer. "I thought, 'Gosh, can you believe what they print!' " she recalls. Later, after an exchange of voice-mail messages with Chung, she found out the story was true. "Connie's unbelievably quiet about these things," she says. "I'd been talking to her every day, and nothing ever leaked out.'

There is no doubt, though, that Matthew will grow up in luxury. His parents recently upgraded their digs in Manhattan's celebrated Dakota apartment building, where their neighbors include Yoko Ono and Lauren Bacall. Trading in their seven-room apartment, they paid $5 million for the former home of media entrepreneur Chris Whittle, a lavish 11-room spread that features 14-foot ceilings, five bedrooms and hand-finished mahogany woodwork. If that sounds like a cozy place to settle in for a spell, that's just what Chung's friends expect her to do. "I think she'll go underground for a while," says her former Eye to Eye colleague, "and just enjoy motherhood."

SHELLEY LEVITT
NANCY MATSUMOTO in New York City

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