Just because there’s baby news all around Ice-T now that his Law and Order: SVU co-star Mariska Hargitay is expanding her family, the rapper-actor-author, 53, and wife Coco, 32, aren’t planning to join the boom that also includes 30 Rock‘s Tina Fey.

He shares secrets about Mariska’s joyful adoption, explains why his babies will have to wait five years and reveals how Coco fares as a stepmom to his two children.

Ice breathes a sigh of relief when we sit down in his hotel room Saturday at Mount Airy Casino Resort, just before he raps at their Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub. Ahh … he can finally share the truth behind Mariska’s adoption of newborn Amaya Josephine.

“That’s been an ongoing secret on the set,” the star, who was born Tracy Marrow, tells me. “In this world where everything is so Internet-quick, it’s amazing that we were able to keep that quiet, but I think it’s because all of us are in the public eye. When someone says ‘this is personal,’ you want to respect that. If one of us had told, that would’ve been against everything we believe in.”

He continues, “She’s been on this mission to get this child since Christmas. I know, because I’ve been doing all of Mariska’s work. [cackles] Mariska’s been off the set, on her journey, attempting to pick up this baby, and of course, I’m like the pinch-hitter. I move in. If you notice, you see lots of episodes with me and Chris Meloni. Recently Chris had a birthday party, and I Tweeted out pictures, and people were like ‘where’s Mariska?’ and I had to say ‘oh, I don’t take pictures of everybody.’ I’m glad the secret’s out. I haven’t seen the baby yet, but good for her.’”

Today, Ice plans to see Mariska for the first time since the adoption.

“I’m pretty sure she’s overwhelmed, but when you decide you’re going to adopt, this is something you’ve thought out, and this is something that you definitely want,” he says. “People can get pregnant and not want to be pregnant, but when you adopt, you know what you’re doing. You don’t mistakenly adopt. [laughs] That’s absolute planned parenthood. That baby’s lucky. It’s going to have wonderful parents, it’s going to have a good life. It’s going to have parents that can support her. I wish Mariska would’ve adopted me when I was a kid. [laughs] Good for her.”

Still, starting a family does not appeal to Ice and Coco at this time – although it’s something they’d “absolutely” like to do in the future. The couple wed in 2005.

“She’s young, and I believe there’s two ways to have a baby. One is, ‘let’s have a baby.’ The other is ‘I’m pregnant.’ We’re going for the ‘let’s have a baby.’”

Hm, why wait?

“Coco’s a model, and when you’re a swimsuit model, it’s like being an athlete,” he says as she chats on the phone in the other room. “I tell people ‘you don’t know your true value until you stand in front of a camera damn near naked.’ It’s not something every girl or man wants to do. It takes courage. People tend to look down on it, but I’m like ‘that’s the scariest kind of modeling.’ You’ve gotta have your s*** together. And right now, she’s in the second part of her career, where she’s starting her clothing line called Licious, and she’s doing a lot of things. She wants to get the ball rolling.”

He sees them having a baby within five years.

“It’s her call,” he says. “I’ve already got kids; I have a son, I have a daughter. I have no problem with it, but I think, as a woman, it’s like ‘when you’re ready, Ice can do the deed. Trust me.’ That’s not a problem. We can get a baby tonight, if that’s the case. But we’re waiting. I think a lot of women now are having babies later, like Mariska had her baby later. I think the worst thing to do as a woman, is have a child, and then blame something you didn’t accomplish on your kid. If you have that option, get it out of your system, do everything you want to do, and then have your baby.”

Because Ice and Coco want to be hands-on parents, they hope to wait until life slows down a little.

“We don’t want to nanny-off our kids. Coco ain’t that type of girl. If we have a baby, that baby’s going to be tucked right up under our arm rolling with us. That baby would be here with us right now.”

For now, their English bulldog Spartacus is their baby. They had a tough time saying goodbye when they put him in a dog hotel in order to attend the event.

“That was traumatic,” he confesses. “We don’t like putting our puppy nowhere. He’s with us all the time. He comes on the set with us; he comes everywhere. This dog is special; he’s a character. Bulldogs are human-like. They sit back on their butt, and they have their legs in front of them, and they look at you. They have ill personalities. They sleep. They’re not like the little jump-around dogs. Bulldogs are different. And so, we bought it at eight weeks, and it still sits on her lap when we drive, and it looks out the window. He climbs up in the bed and puts his jaw on my neck as dogs do, and then he gets out of the bed and sleeps, and then in the morning, when he gets up, he wants to climb back in the bed.”

He continues, “I would advise people if you’re going to have a baby, get a dog first,” he says. “Start with a plant, work up to fish, get a dog, and then have a baby. You have to be willing and dedicated to it. You don’t want to look at your kid and be like ‘damn, I’m missing something.’”

And when the couple feels like spending kid time, they dial up his son Little Ice, 19, who was born Tracy Marrow Jr.

“Coco and my son have an interesting relationship,” he explains. “Coco is the first woman that my son ever met. When me and his mother broke up, I had girlfriends, I dated, but I never let other girls meet him. I know people that are single parents. They have that vibe. If you’re a single parent, you’re like ‘every guy I go out with can’t meet my kid.’ You’ve gotta get to a certain point, because I don’t want my kid seeing me with all these people. They struck it off early. Ice is now 19, so he was nine when Coco met him.”

What is their relationship like?

“It’s not like a stepmom,” he says. “Coco doesn’t discipline him. She’s an observer. She watches him, and then me and her will discuss him. If there’s a problem, I bring it to him. He still lives with his mother, so there’s no reason for Coco to cross that line. He respects the s*** out of her, and he has a ball being with us. He’s like Coco’s fan; he’s like ‘that ain’t stepmom, that’s like Coco.’ He loves her, and they get along great. He’s a teenager, so every once in a while, Coco will be like ‘I think Ice ain’t tellin’ you everything’ because he’ll talk to her a little more, but then I can’t let him know I got it from her.”

When they finally do start a family, Ice and Coco’s children will be in good hands.

“We haven’t had any family blowouts,” he says. “Whenever you have relationships that include kids, the object is just to keep a lid on it – to keep everybody in a mode that may not be happy, but just not at war, because the kids suffer. So we get along. I’m not going to say we’re like Demi and them, and everybody goes out and parties together, and Ashton and Bruce sleep in the same bed and kick it like that. It ain’t that type of party, but it’s definitely smooth sailing.”

Ice heads downstairs to Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub, where he hangs out with Coco and friends behind the velvet rope in the VIP section, before hitting the microphone for a freestyle rap session.

Here’s my pic with Ice-T:

Ice-T, Valerie NomeIce-T’s autobiography, Ice: A Memoir of Gangster Life and Redemption – From South Central to Hollywood, hits stores April 19. His thriller, Kings of Vice, will arrive in September – the same day as Coco’s thriller Angel. Follow him @finallevel and follow her @cocosworld. Love pets? Follow their English bulldog Spartacus @CuteSpartacus.

Mount Airy Casino Resort is located 75 minutes from NYC and set in the serene and picturesque Pocono Mountains. It offers guests the ultimate experience in casino gaming, golf, outdoor activities, entertainment, five restaurants, and 188 lavish guest rooms and deluxe suites, and features more than 2,400 of the hottest slot machines and more than 70 table games including blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat and poker. Mount Airy Casino Resort has received the AAA Four-Diamond award, becoming the first Pennsylvania casino and resort to have earned this prominent rating.

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