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It’s always interesting to know what goes on behind the scenes with our favorite celebrities. We want to know who is dating who, which stars are fighting with their peers, who are starting a family – the list goes on and on. However, the details of stars’ early lives often get glossed over. We all know Eminem had a troubled past at the hands of school bullies and a troubled relationship with his mother. But did you know that Dylan McDermott lost his mother to murder when Dylan was only an infant? Her killer wasn’t found until 40 years later. Or what about Charlize Theron, whose father tried to kill her and her mother when she was only 15?
It goes without saying that a person’s childhood – their relationship with their parents and the stability of their home life – plays a huge part in who they become as an adult. This list takes a look at celebrities who were adopted after either being given up or orphaned. They may have played a huge role in the public sphere, but how different would their lives have been if they had not had a loving parent to take them in when their own were not available?
These celebrities show what a person can accomplish despite the initial loss of a stable home. And a few of the less-than-admirable examples on this list show what can happen despite the love that others are willing to give them. Some of them had family members who were willing to take them in, and some were adopted by complete strangers. Some lost their parents to accidents, others were given up as infants. But all found someone willing to take on the challenges of raising them, and most (though not all) went on to do great things with their lives.
Steve Jobs was born Abdul Lateef Jandali to Abdulfattah Jandali and Joanne Schieble. Abdulfattah was from Syria and Joanne was from Wisconsin.
Joanne’s Catholic family did not approve of her dating a Muslim, so when their son was born he was given up for adoption.
Abdul was adopted by Paul Jobs and Clara Hagopian, who named him Steve Jobs. Steve was famously unhappy with people using the term “adoptive parents” to describe Paul and Clara.
He said in an interview that “they were my parents 1000%.”
You’ll probably never meet anyone who doesn’t know who John Lennon was. But not many people know about his early childhood.
Lennon’s biological father wasn’t around a lot when John was a baby, but he sent checks to John’s mother for the first few years of his life.
However, after John’s father, Alfred, went AWOL from the British armed forces in 1944, nobody heard from him for six months. When he finally returned, John’s mother Julia was pregnant with another man’s child.
Julia’s sister (John’s aunt) complained to Social Services and was given custody. She and her husband George raised John throughout the rest of his childhood.
Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortenson to Gladys Baker. Nobody knows for sure who Monroe’s father was, and her mother was unable to care for her.
She was raised by foster parents Albert and Ida Bolender until she was seven years old when she moved back in with her mother.
However, Gladys was sent to a mental hospital not long after, and Norma bounced around between several foster families until, at the age of 16.
She married 21-year old Jim Dougherty in order to avoid returning to an orphanage.
Jamie was adopted by his mother’s adoptive parents when he was 7 months old after his parents separated.
He was born Eric Marlon Bishop was born in Texas, December 13, 1967, he grew up in the black quarter of Terrel, which at the time was a racially segregated community.
The son of Darrell Bishop (renamed Shahid Abdula following his conversion to Islam) and Louise Annette Talley Dixon.
He has little contact with his birth parents and has often acknowledged that his grandmother’s influence in his life is one of the greatest reasons for his success.
Lionel Richie was not her biological father, but rather a family friend who raised her from the time she was a toddler and eventually adopted her.
Her biological father, Peter Michael Escovedo and biological mother Karen Moss agreed to let Lionel take care of her because they couldn’t afford to provide for her.
“My parents were friends with Lionel,” she told People in 2003. “They trusted that they would be better able to provide for me.”
Nicole was legally adopted by Richie and his then-wife Brenda when Nicole was 9-years-old.
Faith Hill was given up for adoption as an infant and named Audrey Faith Perry.
She was raised in a nearby town and her adoptive parents, Edna and Ted Perry raised her and their two biological sons in a devout Christian environment.
From a young age, Hill used to perform in front of people at local concerts and church events.
At 19, she quit school to pursue her dream of being a country singer and before she made it, she was selling t-shirts to make a living.
Snooki was adopted when she was only 6 months old.
She was born Nicole Elizabeth Polizzi in Santiago, Chile and was raised by Italian-American parents.
She received her nickname, Snooki, in middle school, when her friends named her after “Snookie”, a male character in Save the Last Dance because she was the first of her friends to kiss a boy.
The reality star ended up marrying Jionni LaValle, a man she met while filming Jersey Shore years before.
Liotta, too, was only 6 months old when he was adopted by Mary & Alfred Liotta.
He also has a sister, Linda Liotta, who was also adopted.
He knew he was adopted as a young child and did a show and tell report for it in kindergarten.
He tracked his biological parents down in the 00s and found they were of Italian and Scottish ancestry. He also found he had one half-brother, five half sisters and a full sister.
George Herman Ruth spent his childhood in an orphanage.
Many details of Ruth’s childhood are unknown, including the date of his parent’s marriage.
Ruth was born in his paternal grandfather’s home, Pius Schamberger, a German immigrant.
As a child, Ruth spoke German. When he was 7, he was sent to St Mary’s School for Boys, a reformatory and orphanage.
Our 42nd president was raised by his grandparents after his father passed away.
His grandparents lived in the southern United States when it was racially segregated. They sold goods on credit to people of all races.
It wasn’t until 1950 that Bill was adopted by his mother’s partner that he got the surname Clinton.
The Key half of Key and Peele was given up for adoption as a child.
The Sex And The City star was adopted by her stepfather when she was a toddler.
Malcolm Little’s father died when Malcolm was a child and his mother suffered a mental breakdown. He spent his early years in an orphanage.
Lance’s stepfather adopted him when Lance was 3 years old.
Eric Clapton didn’t know that the people he called his parents were actually his grandparents. His mother had given birth at 16 and pretended to be his older sister.
Andy was given up for adoption at birth.
Before he was Ice-T, Tracey Lauren Marrow had lost both of his parents by the time he was 12. He was raised by his aunts.
Debbie was only 3 months old when she was given up for adoption.
The Canadian singer was given up for adoption as a child.
Truman’s parents were young, and when they divorced he was raised by other relatives.
Nelson lost his father when he was 9 years old and was raised by a tribal chief.
McGraw had no idea as a child that the man he called father was actually his stepfather.
Born Leslie Lynch King, Jr., the 38th president of the United States was raised by his stepfather from the age of 2 when his mother changed his name to Gerald Ford.
Trace was adopted by his stepfather at age 4.
Keyshia lost her father when she was 2 years old and was adopted.
Allen Pineda Lindo was adopted from the Philipines when he was 14.
Frances and her siblings were adopted by a Minister and his wife.
Dean’s stepfather adopted him at age 3.
The blockbuster director and producer were given up for adoption as a child.
The Diff’rent Strokes star was adopted in Chicago when he was a child.
Ingrid’s parents both died by the time she was 13, and the future star was raised by her aunts and uncles.
The famous serial killer, known as the Son of Sam, was adopted as an infant. His birth parents had divorced during the pregnancy.
The singer was raised in a foster home where he was later adopted.
Jackson’s mother was only 16 years old, and his father was married to another woman. His mother later married and her husband adopted Jesse.
Kelly’s biological father died of drowning when she was only 3 years old. She was adopted by her stepfather.
Edgar Allen Poe
When his mother died, Edgar’s father abandoned him. He was raised by a foster family from age 2.
The Six Million Dollar Man lost both of his parents in separate accidents when he was 2 years old. He was adopted by his aunt and uncle.
The actor/director was given up for adoption at birth.
Louis parents abandoned him as a baby. He was raised by relatives and by a foster family.
The figure skater was 6 weeks old when he was adopted.
Having been adopted at the age of 6 weeks, Thomas later started the Thomas Foundation for Adoption.
Burton’s mother died when he was a year old. His older sister and her husband adopted him.
After his parents divorced, Newt’s stepfather adopted him.
The playwright and poet were raised by his grandmother after his parents divorced.
Writer James Baldwin’s parents divorced over his father’s drug addiction. His stepfather later adopted him.
Eleanor’s parents died by the time she was 10, and she was raised by her grandmother.
The actress’s mother died when Tallulah was only 3 weeks old. She was raised by her grandmother.
Darryl McDaniels didn’t know he had been adopted until he was in his 30s.
Priscilla’s father died in a plane crash when she was only 6 months old. Her stepfather raised her.
Hancock’s father died when John was 7 years old. he was raised by his aunt and uncle.
Oher was raised in several foster homes and spent time homeless until he was adopted at age 17.
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