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15 Famous People Who Were Adopted

Rohini Mohan
Did you know that some of the best-known personalities in the world were given up for adoption by their biological parents, either that, or orphaned at a young age? These famous people were the lucky ones, because they were adopted, either by relatives or families that had abundant love to give to them.

Did You Know?

Ada of Caria formally adopted Alexander the Great in 334 BC, so that the rule of the region would pass into Alexander's control after her death.
Blessed is the child who is loved and protected by parents who were not his by birth, but became so in time. Adopting is not a recent celebrity trend, as most would like to think. In fact, this practice has been around for centuries, and has resulted in enriching the lives of many helpless children, who were either orphaned or abandoned at an early age.
While it is common to see celebrities adopting children from all around the world, did you know that there are several famous people who were themselves adopted? Would we know these people for who they are, unless they were taken in by their adoptive parents?
Would their lives have turned out the same or better, had they not been adopted and grew up without the love, care, and support that they got?

In the case of the famous people mentioned in this story, the odds turned in their favor, and their adoptive parents played a vital role in making their children into independent, fierce, and successful individuals.

Famous People You Did Not Know Were Adopted

Bill Clinton

42nd President of the United States (1993 - 2001)
Born: August 19, 1946
Bill Clinton was born in 1946, and was named William Jefferson Blythe III, after his biological father William Jefferson Blythe, Jr., who died three months before the birth of his son. Thereafter, Bill's mother, Virginia Dell Cassidy, left her son in the care of her parents, so as to study nursing at New Orleans. Virginia married Roger Clinton, Sr., who adopted her son, and was given the name William Jefferson 'Bill' Clinton.

Dave Thomas

Founder & CEO of Wendy's
Born: July 2, 1932 • Died: January 8, 2002
The founder of the American fast-food chain Wendy's, David Rex 'Dave' Thomas never knew his biological parents, and was adopted when he was merely 6 weeks old, by Rex and Auleva Thomas. Dave's grandmother helped raise him, after his adoptive mother passed away.
He has credited his grandmother for teaching him the skills needed to become a successful entrepreneur. His adoptive father, Rex, spent much of his time traveling in search of employment.

Debbie Harry

Singer, Songwriter, Actress
Born: July 1, 1945
Well-known as the vocalist for the band Blondie, a Playboy Bunny, and actress, Deborah Ann 'Debbie' Harry was adopted by Catherine Harry and Richard Smith. She founded the band along with guitarist Chris Stein, in 1974, and is currently still active.
Apart from being recognized for her voice, she was adored by her fans for her sensual, edgy, and iconic fashion sense. People still fondly call her 'Blondie', despite her insistence on being called 'Deborah' .

Faith Hill

Singer, Songwriter, Producer, Actress
Born: September 21, 1967
This 5-time Grammy Award-winning singer was adopted by Ted and Edna Perry, when Faith was only a few months old. Her adoptive parents were devout Christians, and raised their two biological sons along with their adoptive daughter, Audrey Faith Perry.
Even though she had a very happy childhood, and felt immensely blessed to have such loving parents, she wanted to find her biological mother. She succeeded in finding her, and continued to keep in touch with her until her death.

Jamie Foxx

Singer, Songwriter, Musician, Stand-up Comedian, Talk Radio Host
Born: December 13, 1967
Jamie Foxx was born to Louise Annette Talley Dixon and Darrell Bishop. Born as Eric Marlon Bishop, Jamie was adopted by his maternal grandparents Esther Marie Nelson and Mark Talley, who were also the adoptive parents of his mother.
His grandparents officially adopted Jamie Foxx when he was 7 years old, and he was raised with a lot of love and care. He did not have much contact with either of his biological parents, who did not take an active role in his upbringing.

Jesse Jackson

United States Shadow Senator (1991 - 1997)
Born: October 8, 1941
The civil rights activist, former United States Shadow Senator, and Baptist minister, Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr. was born as Jesse Louis Burns. His mother, Helen Burns, was only 16 when she became pregnant. Jesse Jackson's biological father was Noah Louis Robinson, with whom he was close. Helen Burns married Charles Henry Jackson, who formally adopted Jesse, and gave him his surname.

John Lennon

Singer, Songwriter, Musician
Born: October 9, 1940 • Died: December 8, 1980
John Lennon, from the band Beatles, was born in 1940 to Julia and Alfred Lennon. Lennon's father was a seaman, who was not present during his son's birth, and went on absence without official leave in 1944.
He returned six months later, only to find his wife pregnant with another man's child. John Lennon's aunt Mimi Smith filed two complaints with Liverpool Social Services. Eventually, Mimi was made the parental guardian of her nephew, John, and maintained a very close relationship with him until his death in 1980.

Daunte Culpepper

American Footballer
Born: January 28, 1977
The American football quarterback was born to Barbara Henderson. Daunte's mother was serving time for an armed robbery at the time of his birth, and he was adopted by Emma Lewis Culpepper when he was only a day old.
Emma had been working at the correction facility where Daunte's mother had been serving time. Despite having 15 children at the time, Emma adopted Daunte, and raised him as her own. In 2011, Football Nation listed him as the 44th Best Modern-era Quarterback.

Marilyn Monroe

Actress, Singer, Model
Born: June 1, 1926 • Died: August 5, 1962
The unforgettable Marilyn Monroe was born as Norma Jeane Mortenson (Baker) to Gladys Pearl Baker, with her father's name being mentioned as Martin Edward Mortensen in her birth certificate. However, Marilyn was told by her mother that her real father was Charles Stanley Gifford.
Being mentally unstable, Gladys placed her daughter with foster parents Albert and Ida Bolender, with whom she lived till the age of seven.
After Gladys was institutionalized at the State Hospital in Norwalk, Marilyn was made a ward of the state, while her mother's best friend, Grace McKee, became her guardian. Even though Grace remained Marilyn's guardian, after getting married, she sent the child to foster homes. Marilyn's fondest memories were of staying with one of Grace's aunt, Ana Lower.

Michael Bay

Film Producer, Director
Born: February 17, 1965
The maker of movies such as Transformers, Pearl Harbor, Bad Boys II, and Armageddon; Michael Bay was adopted by Harriet and Jim Bay. Harriet was a child psychiatrist and bookstore owner, while Jim was a Certified Public Accountant. Michael searched for his biological parents, and eventually found his real mother. However, he was unable to trace his biological father.

Nelson Mandela

President of South Africa (1994 - 1999)
Born: July 18, 1918
An anti-apartheid activist, a revolutionary, and former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela was born in the year 1918. His biological parents were Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa and Nosekeni Fanny.
After his biological father's demise, Nosekeni Fanny made the then Thimbu chief, Jongintaba Dalindyebo the guardian of her son. Nelson Mandela was raised by the family as their own son, despite them having a son (Justice) and daughter (Nomafu).

Nicole Richie

Actress, Singer, Author, Designer
Born: September 21, 1981
Nicole Richie is the adopted daughter of singer Lionel Richie. She was born as Nicole Camille Escovedo to Karen and Peter Michael Escovedo.
Nicole was sent to live with Lionel and Brenda Harvey, because her biological parents were unable to provide for her. Lionel Richie became Nicole's guardian, and officially adopted her when she was nine years old. Michael Jackson was Nicole's godfather, and Nancy Davis is her godmother.

Ray Liotta

Born: December 18, 1954
The Goodfellas and Killing Them Softly actor, Raymond Allen 'Ray' Liotta, was only six months old when he was adopted by Mary and Alfred Liotta. Born Raymond Julian Vicimarli, his biological father was Italian and mother was Scottish-Irish.
The Liotta family gave Ray a sister (Linda), who was also adopted. Ray hired a private investigator in 1997 to find his biological mother, but finally made peace with his pent-up frustration of having been abandoned by his birth parents.

Steve Jobs

Inventor, Entrepreneur
Born: February 24, 1955 • Died: October 5, 2011
Steven Paul 'Steve' Jobs, the genius behind Apple Inc., was born to Syrian-born Abdulfattah 'John' Jandali and Swiss-American Joanne Carole Schieble. Jandali has claimed that the Joanne's family disapproved of their relationship, and thus they had to give the child up for adoption.
Jobs was adopted on the day of his birth by Clara Hagopian Jobs and Paul Reinhold Jobs, who raised him to become the most inspiring man of the 21st Century.
Jobs also has a biological sister, the novelist Mona Simpson, who was born from his birth parent's subsequent marriage in 1957. Jobs found his biological mother, and kept in touch with her. However, he chose to stay away from his biological father, despite knowing who he was.

Truman Capote

Born: September 30, 1924 • Died: August 25, 1984
The acclaimed American author Truman Capote will always be remembered for his works such as Breakfast at Tiffany's and In Cold Blood. Harper Lee based the character 'Dill' from her novel To Kill a Mockingbird on Capote.
Born Truman Streckfus Persons, his mother Lillie Mae Faulk was only 17 years old when she had him. His father Archulus Persons was a salesman. However, his parents divorced when he was four years old. His mother Lillie married Joseph Capote, who legally adopted her son, and renamed him 'Truman Garcia Capote'.
The aforementioned individuals, however, went on to become the greats in their respective fields, and it would be an understatement to say that their adoptive parents played a part in making them successful.