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29+ Celebrities We Didn't Know Were Adopted


| LAST UPDATE 05/08/2022

By Abby Wall

It seems we find out new information about our favorite celebrities every day! From reality stars to boyband members, here are several famous figures who have opened up about their adoptive pasts.

Simone Biles

Seven-time Olympic medalist Simone Biles and her sister Adria were placed in the foster care system at three years old. Shortly after, their grandparents stepped in and adopted the two sisters in 2003 as their own.

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During her time on Dancing With the Stars, the athlete commented on her adoption. "Growing up, my biological mom was suffering from [substance] abuse, and she was in and out of jail," Simone confessed. Her grandparents adopted her and her sister in Texas. And from there, she took the world by storm!

Nicole Richie

Fashion icon Nicole Richie was adopted by legendary singer Lionel Richie and ex-wife Brenda when she was nine years old. The Hollywood star was born to biological parents, Peter Michael Escovedo, a musician who once toured with Lionel, and Karen Moss, assistant to Nicole's aunt Sheila E.

Adopted Celebrities Nicole Richie Adopted Celebrities Nicole Richie
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Her biological parents could not care for her financially, and at four years old, she went to live with Lionel and Brenda. Nicole commented on her adoption, stating, "My parents were friends with Lionel. They trusted that they would be better able to provide for me."

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Nicole 'Snooki' Polizzi

Famously known as 'Snooki' from her iconic role on the MTV series Jersey Shore, Nicole Polizzi was born in Santiago, Chile, in 1987. She was adopted by Italian-American parents Helen and Andre Polizzi. Sure enough, she grew up in both New York and (of course) New Jersey.

Snooki Italian Adopted CelebritiesSnooki Italian Adopted Celebrities
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The unforgettable Jersey Shore star openly discussed her adoption on YouTube, saying, "I was always meant to be with my adoptive parents⁠ - which I hate saying adoptive parents because they're my parents, it's weird." Snooki is married to fellow Jersey Shore star Jionni LaValle, and the happy couple has three children together.

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Marilyn Monroe

Known as the "blonde bombshell," Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortenson in 1926. Her mother, Gladys Baker, was unable to take care of her at the time. Monroe was placed with foster parents until she was seven, when her mother attempted to get her back but was hospitalized and unable to.

Marilyn Monroe Adopted ChildhoodMarilyn Monroe Adopted Childhood
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Marilyn was declared a ward of the state, and her mother's best friend, Grace McKee, became her legal guardian for a few years. After moving around quite a bit, eventually, Grace and her husband approached a neighbor, James Dougherty, about marrying Marilyn. And at 16, they tied the knot!

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Steve Jobs

Born to Joanne Schieble and Abdulfattah Jandali in 1955, Steve Jobs was given up for adoption as an infant. The parents of Jobs' biological mother opposed the mixed relationship of his parents, and he was adopted and raised by Clara and Paul Jobs in California.

Steve Jobs adopted celebritiesSteve Jobs adopted celebrities
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The late CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs, did some digging, and at age 27, he found out more about his adoption. The personal computer pioneer (who we all have a lot to be thankful for) found out his biological parents later married and had another child together!

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Colin Kaepernick

Former American football quarterback and activist Colin Kaepernick was born to Heidi Russo and adopted by Rick and Teresa Kaepernick shortly after. The ex-San Francisco 49ers star was born in 1987 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to his birth mother - who was 19 when she had him.

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In 2016, Kaepernick made headlines after his decision to protest during an NFL game. "We want people to know that we are very proud of our son and admire his strength and courage in kneeling for the rights of others," his parents explained about the infamous event.

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Jenna Ushkowitz

Jenna Ushkowitz was born in Seoul, South Korea, adopted at three months old, raised in New York... and is now exploring her roots! She's the co-founder of Kindred: The Foundation for Adoption and executive producer of the film Twinsters, the story of Korean twins separated at birth who later found each other online.

Famous Adopted Celebrities HollywoodFamous Adopted Celebrities Hollywood
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"I decided to share my story because it is so positive, and I feel that a lot of adoption stories can be negative, with the adoptees feeling that something was missing," the former Glee actress confessed in the book How Do You Get to the Garden Galaxy? By Melanie Lee.

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Jamie Foxx

One of Hollywood's finest, Jamie Foxx, was adopted by his grandmother at seven months old after his parents split. "My grandmother was 60 years old," Foxx recalled. "She ran a nursery school and had a library in the house. She saw me reading early, saw I was smart, and believed I was born to achieve truly special things."

Jamie Foxx adopted celebritiesJamie Foxx adopted celebrities
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In 2014, Foxx began looking for answers and attempted to reconcile the relationship with his biological parents. The actor's mother, Louise, moved in with him to build their relationship, but the process wasn't as straightforward with his father, leaving many questions unanswered.

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Dubstep phenomena, Skrillex was born as Sonny John Moore in 1988 in Los Angeles. The famous musician and record producer found out that family friends of his biological parents adopted him when he was a teenager. The DJ has won eight Grammys, more than any other EDM artist!

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 Michael Kovac via Getty Images for TAO

At 16, he learned he was adopted. In a 2015 Rolling Stone interview with Katie Couric, the musician talked about the impact of being adopted and what it did for him. "That was like another reason why I was like I'm going to go discover myself and travel and make music."

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Faith Hill

Country superstar Faith Hill was adopted as an infant and raised outside Jackson, Mississippi. Hill first utilized her singing talents at a young age, singing in the Baptist church choir her family was a part of. And now she has five Grammys, so that explains that!

Adopted Celebrities Faith HillAdopted Celebrities Faith Hill
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The search for her birth family began once she moved to Nashville to embark on her musical career. "I have a lot of respect for my birth mother. I know she must have had a lot of love for me to want to give what she felt was a better chance," Hill said.

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Tim McGraw

Faith Hill's husband believed his stepfather, Horace Smith, was his biological father. It wasn't until he was 11 that he found out who his birth father was. He found his birth certificate with his biological father's name, Tug McGraw, New York Mets, and Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher, by digging through his mom's closet. 

Adopted Celebrities Tim McGrawAdopted Celebrities Tim McGraw
Thomas S. England via Getty Images

The two formed a bond later on. "It changed what I thought I could do with my life coming from the circumstances I came from," he recalled. "I felt like when I found that out, you know, he's a professional baseball player who's successful, to me, it made me think that blood is in my veins, so that ability is in there."

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Kristin Chenoweth

Adopted at just five days old, Kristin Chenoweth was raised by her parents, Junie and Jerry Chenoweth, in Oklahoma. Glinda in Wicked, the broadway superstar legend, was used to the spotlight from an early age, having already been a part of the church circuit before high school.

Famous Adoption Kristin ChenowethFamous Adoption Kristin Chenoweth
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"It was never a surprise," Chenoweth explained. "They always said, 'The lady that had you in her belly could not take care of you the way she wanted to, and she loved you so much.'" she continued. "This is what my mom said, 'She gave you life, but we get to give you a life.'"

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John Lennon

One of the most famous names in all of musical history, John Lennon, joins the list of celebs we didn't know were adopted. Most famously known as co-lead vocalist and guitarist of The Beatles, the All You Need is Love singer is greatly remembered for his contributions to the music industry.

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Michael Putland via Getty Images

Born in the United Kingdom, Lennon was raised by his aunt and uncle in Woolton, Liverpool, after his father went AWOL from the military, and his mother was unable to take care of him. Before passing away in 1980, Lennon married famous Japanese multimedia artist Yoko Ono in 1969, and they had 1 child together.

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Lance Armstrong

Viewed as one of the greatest cyclists of all time, the former American road-racing cyclist Lance Armstrong was adopted at three years old. Born in a suburb of Dallas, Texas, in 1971, his parents divorced when he was a baby, and his mother, who was only 17 at the time, was left as a single parent.

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Ezra Shaw via Getty Images

His mother, Linda, remarried Terry Armstrong a few years after the divorce and formally adopted Lance. The 50-year-old sports icon has won the prestigious title of Tour de France seven consecutive times from 1999 to 2005 but later was taken away due to a cheating scandal.

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George Lopez

Comedian George Lopez was two years old when his father left their family. He was raised by his mother until she left when he was ten years old. Lopez was later adopted and raised by his grandmother Benita Gutierrez and her husband in Los Angeles, California.

George Lopez Famously Adopted George Lopez Famously Adopted
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Most famously known for starring in his self-produced ABC sitcom, George Lopez, the show ran for six seasons. The L.A native often discusses race, Mexican American culture, and relationships in his hilarious stand-up shows and is currently leading his OMG Hi! Comedy Tour.

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Nelson Mandela

Former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, was born in 1918 and adopted at age 12. "Madiba," a term used for older men, which is quite fitting for Mandela as he was the father of the South African nation, was adopted by Chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo, leader of the Thembu people.

Nelson Mandela Adopted Celebrity Nelson Mandela Adopted Celebrity
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Mandela moved from the small village he was born in to the capital, where he received his education. The strong leader focused on dismantling the institutionalized apartheid widespread throughout South Africa. After spending nearly three decades in prison, he was able to bring peace to the country.

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Law & Order: SVU actor, Ice-T, was born Tracy Lauren Marrow in 1958. The well-established actor and musician was raised in Los Angeles by his aunts, who adopted him after his mother died of a heart attack at just eight years old. Sadly four years later, his father passed away the same way.

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 Dia Dipasupil via Getty Images

Originally born in New Jersey, the rapper learned everything he knows from the streets of South Central. Ice-T branded himself as a colossal part of the West Coast hip-hop scene, despite his East Coast roots, wanting to be a hip-hop artist from a young age. The artist today lives in New Jersey with his wife, Coco.

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Debbie Harry

American singer, songwriter, and actress, Debbie Harry, best known as the lead vocalist in the band Blondie, was adopted by Richard and Catherine Harry at three months old. The punk singer was born in Miami, Florida, and raised in Hawthorne, New Jersey, where she first sang in church choirs!

Debbie Harry Adopted Celebrity Debbie Harry Adopted Celebrity
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In Harry's memoir, Face It, the superstar discussed everything from her time on stage to her relationship with her adopted parents and birth parents. The singer shared her experience searching for her birth parents - only to find out her father has passed away, and her mother and half-brothers did not want to be in contact.

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Sara McLachlan

Singer Sarah McLachlan was one of three children Jack and Dorice McLachlan adopted. Growing up in Nova Scotia, Canada, the singer began her musical journey from a young age by taking voice and guitar lessons, only to find out a few years later she would become one of the most prominent singers in Hollywood!

Sarah McLachlan Celebrities Adopted Sarah McLachlan Celebrities Adopted
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The singer had a friendly relationship with her birth family, as she shared with Parents magazine more about her relationship with her adopted mother. "When I think about my mother who raised me, you know, she's my mother." She continued, "I was happy I had the parents I had. I'm not much to dwell on what may have been."

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Melissa Gilbert

Little House on the Prairie icon Melissa Gilbert was born to be a star! The actress was adopted by actor and comedian Paul Gilbert and his wife, dancer and actress Barbara Crane. Although her parents divorced when she was just eight years old, her parents also adopted a son, Jonathan, who also has a familiar face!

Famous Celebrities Adopted  Famous Celebrities Adopted
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The couple adopted a son, Jonathan Gilbert, who co-starred with his sis on Little House on the Prairie, and Sara Gilbert, who starred on the ABC hit show Roseanne for nine seasons! Something magical must have been running through that household to have several kids all killing it in the biz!

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Kelly Preston

Late actress Kelly Preston was born and raised in Hawaii. She moved to Australia before coming to California to jump-start her acting career and attend the University of Southern California - where she studied theater and drama. Sadly, the star's biological father drowned when she was just three years old.

Adopted Family Kelly PrestonAdopted Family Kelly Preston

Her mother later remarried Peter Palzis, who was a personnel director. Palzis adopted the young Kelly Preston, and she adopted his name at the start of her acting career. Unfortunately, the beloved actress known for her many different TV and movie roles passed away in 2020.

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Frances McDormand

Frances McDormand may be one of the greatest actresses by achieving the "Triple Crown of Acting" for her celebrated Academy Awards, Primetime Emmy Awards, and Tony Award. The talented celebrity was born in Chicago, and she and her siblings were adopted at a young age by the McDormand family.

Famous Celebrities Adopted Famous Celebrities Adopted
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Moving frequently as a child, Frances started her acting debut in Pennsylvania and later attended Yale to study at their world-renowned drama school. She and her husband adopted their son Pedro McDormand Coen from Paraguay in 1995 when he was six months old, and now he is part of the entertainment business like his parents!

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Lee Majors

Not finding out he was adopted until he was a teenager, Lee Majors was raised by his aunt and uncle. At just two years old, both of Lee's parents, Carl and Alice Yeary, passed away in separate accidents, causing him to move to Kentucky. There, he grew up and later found out the truth behind his birth parents.

Lee Majors Celebrities Adopted Lee Majors Celebrities Adopted
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The highly celebrated actor found newspaper clippings detailing the events of his parent's death, unveiling the truth behind his adoption. Lee reveals, "I made up my mind right then that my stepparents would never regret having adopted me," he said. "I set out to prove myself."

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Andy Dick

Hilarious comedian Andy Dick was born in Charleston and adopted at birth by his parents, Allen and Sue Dick. The comedian met his birth parents when he was 40 years old, finding out his mother was an unwed teenager from Texas who gave birth in South Carolina.

Andy Dick Celebrities Adopted Andy Dick Celebrities Adopted
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When his adoptive parents passed away, he found a book called The Primal Wound, where "The first sentence says, just so you know, you have a primal wound that will never heal. I closed the book and never read it." Despite the book, he searched for and met his mother, and they "got into a great relationship."

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Jack Nicholson

For years, Jack Nicholson believed his mother, June, was his sister and that his grandmother, Ethel May, was his mother. It wasn't until nearly four decades later that the truth was revealed. His biological mother desired a career in the entertainment business and moved to Los Angeles, where Nicholson soon followed.

Jack Nicholson Celebrities Adopted Jack Nicholson Celebrities Adopted
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It wasn't until a 1974 Time magazine profile that the truth came out. Before the article was released, he received a phone call wanting to clarify some facts about the story, one of which was the truth behind his past. "I was very impressed by their ability to keep the secret if nothing else," he admitted to Rolling Stone.

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Keegan-Michael Key

Emmy-winning comedian Keegan-Michael Key discussed his adoption in an interview with People, explaining his fear of being "abandoned again" and how he has "people-pleasing issues." The actor was adopted by a couple from Detroit at a young age and grew up knowing he was adopted.

Keegan-Michael Key Adopted Keegan-Michael Key Adopted
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The Key & Peele star told The New Yorker in 2015 that he reunited with his birth mother, Carrie Herr, and his several siblings. "I literally went to bed one day with one sibling and woke up the next morning with seven," he said. Keegan noted how his adoption experience shaped who he became to be.

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Bill Clinton

42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001, Bill Clinton, joins the list of celebrities we didn't know were adopted! Clinton's father passed away just a few months before he was born in 1946, and his mother left him in good care with her family while she went to study nursing in New Orleans.

Bill Clinton Family AdoptionBill Clinton Family Adoption
 Taylor Hill/WireImage via Getty Images

His mother returned married to Roger Clinton, who adopted Bill at 15. The former President was raised by his grandmother, who encouraged academics early on. As a teenager, Clinton excelled in school and showed a passion for politics, which eventually led him to his role as President!

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JC Chasez

NSYNC boy bander JC Chasez was adopted by his biological mother's former foster parents after knowing she couldn't care for him. His birth mother had direct contact with his adopted parents, and he was adopted at five years old. The singer has a relationship with his birth mother today.

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In an interview with Oh, No They Didn't, the pop star talked about his experiences growing up and his relationship with his adopted parents. "It is the greatest thing in the world. You know, my parents sacrificed so much. The position that I'm in now? Is because they helped me."

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Daunte Culpepper

NFL legend Daunte Culpepper was adopted by a woman who worked in the prison where his birth mother served her sentence when she gave birth to him. Emma Lewis Culpepper adopted the future football star one day after he was born and had adopted fourteen other children.

Celebrated Adopted NFL StarsCelebrated Adopted NFL Stars
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Celebrated as one of the best QBs in history, the athlete attended Central Florida and stayed to finish his senior year to get his degree as he promised his momma! "It was the best thing that happened to me in my whole life," he said. "I never really had a man in my life. She was my mother and my father."

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Michael Oher

The Tuohy family adopted fellow NFL star Michael Oher in 2004 after he attended high school with the couple's children in Memphis. Oher moved in with the Tuohy family during high school and was adopted later on. Hollywood picked up on the family's story and later turned their story into the film, The Blind Side.

Michael Oher Adopted Story Michael Oher Adopted Story
Matthew Sharpe via Getty Images

In Michael Oher's autobiography, I Beat The Odds: From Homelessness to The Blind Side and Beyond, he noted, "It's true that we can't help the circumstance we're born into, and some of us start out in a much tougher place than other people. But just because we started there doesn't mean we have to end there. "…

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