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Famous People Who are Adopted

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When it comes to adoption in Tinseltown, there is usually a fair amount of attention paid to celebrities who build their families through some form of adoption. Most of us - even those of us who pretend not to know such things - can probably name a few celebs who have done so. But what about famous people who are adopted themselves? It's nice to see examples of grown up adoptees who have gone on to do interesting, extraordinary or noteworthy things. Here are some famous people who were in some way formally or informally adopted; some were adopted from birth, some grew up in foster care, some were raised by extended family - and some may surprise you.

Bill Clinton

His father died in an automobile accident before he was born (and he was actually born William Blythe III). His mother wanted to attend nursing school, so she left him in the care of her parents. Years later she returned, married a man named Roger Clinton (and Bill took his name) and Bill moved back in with the new family. He is the second President of the United States to be adopted (the other: Gerald Ford).

Nelson Mandela

After his Father's death, he was adopted at the age of 9 by the Chief of the Thembu people.

John Lennon

After his father left his mother, she felt she was ill-equipped to take care of him any longer. From a young age, Lennon was famously raised by his Aunt Mimi and Uncle George. Lennon also had a maternal half-sister who was also adopted out to a different family, but she didn't learn of the relation until the late 90s. (Can you imagine that kind of surprise?)

Edgar Allen Poe

His birth mother died shortly after his birth, and his birth father left the family. Edgar grew up with a family in Virginia.

Marilyn Monroe

Her biological mother was severely mentally unstable and gave legal guardianship to her friend, Grace. 'Aunt Grace' couldn't afford to care for Marilyn properly, and so she spent her childhood in orphanages and foster care (though Grace saw her every week and was the only steady family she had). At 16 she was given the choice to go to another orphanage or get married, and so Marilyn entered into her first marriage.

Babe Ruth

Both he and his sister were put into an orphanage at a young age - which is where he met Brother Matthias, who taught him how to play baseball. Later in life the Babe became an adoptive parent himself.

Malcolm X

His birth father was killed in the early 30s, and his mother was committed to a hospital. Both he and his siblings grew up primarily in foster care.

Eleanor Roosevelt

After her parents died, she was adopted by her grandmother.

Jack Nicholson

His whole life, he grew up with a sister who was 17 years older than him, named June. When he was 37 years old a Time magazine reporter accidentally unearthed a startling piece of information - that the woman he had grown up with as his sister was actually his birth mom, and his mother his biological grandmother who had adopted him.

Steve Jobs

His biological father was a Syrian Muslim, and his biological mother's parents did not approve of their mixed relationship - so Steve was adopted at just a few days old. In 1985 his biological sister, author Mona Simpson, found him.

Dave Thomas

Born to an unwed woman he never knew, he was adopted at 6 weeks old. Later, after he started Wendy's, he started the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption - 'Finding Forever Families for Children in Foster Care'.

Debbie Harry

Debbie was adopted when she was only a few months old. Many fans think her song "Mother" is an open letter to her birth mother - which Debbie denies.

Darryl McDaniels (DMC of Run DMC)

Darryl didn't learn that he was adopted until he was 35 years old. In 2006, he was the focus of a documentary about finding his birth parents titled "DMC: My Adoption Journey".

Ray Liotta

Born in New York in the 50s, he was adopted right away. In 1997 he found his biological mother after hiring a private investigator.

Frances McDormand

Adopted by a pastor and his wife, Frances believes her birth mother may have been a parishioner at his church. Her parents adopted both her and her two biological siblings.

Gary Coleman

Born to a homeless woman, he was adopted just a few days later (unfortunately by stage parents).

Faith Hill

She was adopted just a few days after she was born. She was the only adopted child in her family, and later had a solid friendship with her birth mother.

Sarah McLachlan

Canadian born, she was adopted to an American couple as an infant.

Nicole Richie

Her biological parents were friends of couple Lionel Richie and Brenda Harvey. When she was 3, they were unable to take care of her financially and put her in the care of the Richie's. She was legally adopted at age 9.

Kristin Chenoweth

She was adopted just a few days after her birth. As an adult she has background information on her birth parents, and has expressed she has little interest in knowing them personally.

Jamie Foxx

His parents separated shortly after he was born, and his biological mother was in no position to raise him herself. At 7 months he was adopted by his maternal grandmother, and is now an adoption advocate.

November is National Adoption Month in the U.S., and National Adoption Day is November 23rd. The purpose is to raise awareness about adoption, and the many, many children in the U.S. foster care system who are waiting for their forever homes.


Comments (1)

thanks for the interesting article on famous people who are adopted. One of my very favorite famous musicians was also adopted: Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead

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