Grace Hightower Welcomes Baby Girl, Robert De Niro Talks ‘Fractionalized Family’

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December 24, 2011 5:19 PM EST

Robert De Niro, 68, and Grace Hightower, 56, have welcomed a daughter, Helen Grace, through a surrogate mother, De Niro’s second child through surrogacy after twins Julian and Aaron with ex-girlfriend Toukie Smith.

“Helen Grace, born via surrogate, weighed in at 7 lbs., 2 oz.” the couple’s rep told People. “She is the second child for the couple, who first met back in 1987 in London.” Grace Hightower and Robert De Niro, both Oscar award-winning actors, already have a 13-year-old son, Elliot.

But Robert De Niro has four other children from previous relationships. Daughter Drena, 40, and son Raphael, 35, were from his marriage to ex-wife Diahnne Abbot, while as 16-year-old twins Julian and Aaron with Toukie Smith, his ex-girlfriend.

All together, Robert De Niro’s sprawling family is comprised of six children from three relationships, but he and Hightower, unlike the celebrity family of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, are remarkably low-profile.

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They pair are rarely photographed together, despite a marriage of almost 14 years. In 1999, Robert De Niro filed for divorce, and a 2001 custody battle over their son Elliot threatened to turn nasty. But after the pair reconciled, they renewed their wedding vows in 2004, and have kept resolutely out of the public eye ever since.

If the surrogate birth of Helen Grace Hightower is any indication, however, her parents are continuing to embrace their rocky but romantic partnership and their unconventional but loving family.

“One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my years as a father,” De Niro told The Daily Mail, “is to keep the lines of communication open.”

He also noted how spread out his family had become, and this before the birth of Helen Grace Hightower this year. “I have five of them, ranging in age from 14 to their 30s, by three mothers,” she said. “So I guess you could call it a fractionalized family of sorts.’

“But I care deeply about all of them, and I have made a conscious effort to talk to and to listen to them… to tell them things I think are important for them to know.”

Helen Grace Hightower is sure to be a lucky little girl, if the elusive Hightower-De Niro family’s devotion and commitment is any indication.

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