15 Hollywood Celebrities You Didn't Know Were Adopted (PHOTOS)

Nanci Theoret | Sep 17, 2015 Celebrities
15 Hollywood Celebrities You Didn't Know Were Adopted (PHOTOS)

For some celebrities, their destiny in life was written in the stars. Born to parents who couldn’t take care of them, died tragically, or simply were too young for the responsibilities of a child, these celebrities are examples of when adoption provided the ultimate opportunity for a better life. Naturally curious about the what-ifs and where-did-I-come-froms, many have sought out their birth parent, discovering their lives were forever changed by the altruistic gift of adoption.

Some have also formed close relationships with their biological mothers and fathers. Check out these 15 celebrities whom you likely didn't know were adopted. 


Image © Jared Milgrim/The Photo Access/The World Access/Corbis

  • Steve Jobs


    Image © Peer Grimm/dpa/Corbis

    The maternal grandparents of the Apple co-founder didn’t approve of their Catholic daughter’s relationship with a Muslim, whom she met at the University of Wisconsin. So shortly after she gave birth in 1955, Jobs was adopted by a woman named Clara and her mechanic and carpenter husband, Paul, the man Jobs credited with stirring his curiosity of electronics. True love prevailed and Jobs' biological parents eventually married and had a daughter, whom Jobs became close to before his death in 2011.

  • Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi


    Image © Scott Harrison/Retna Ltd./Corbis

    The Jersey Shore star was born in Santiago, Chile, and adopted by Italian American parents in 1987 when she was 6 months old. She has expressed no desire to meet her biological parents. 

  • Scott Hamilton


    Image © Danny Moloshok/Reuters/Corbis

    The  Olympic gold medal skater was born in Toledo, Ohio, and adopted at six weeks by professors Dorothy and Ernest S. Hamilton. He grew up in Bowling Green, Ohio, with an older sister and a younger brother -- his parents’ biological children.

  • Debbie Harry


    Image © Efren Landaos/PressLine/Splash/Splash News/Corbis

    The sexy Blondie singer often fantasized she was the daughter of Marilyn Monroe. Given up by her mother when she was only a few months old, Harry says her artistic side often clashed with her adoptive parents' values.

    More from The Stir: 18 Celebrities Who Endured the Tragic Pain of Losing a Child (PHOTOS)

  • Nelson Mandela


    Image © Splash News/Splash News/Corbis

    The Nobel Peace Prize-winning anti-apartheid activist was adopted at age 9 by Chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo in honor of Mandela’s late father who was a staunch supporter of Dalindyebo’s rise to chief. After his father’s death from tuberculosis, South Africa’s first black president moved from a small village into the chief’s palace, studying in a one-room school house and listening in on the conversations of elder chiefs who visited his adoptive father. 

  • Faith Hill


    Image © Jared Milgrim/The Photo Access/The World Access/Corbis

    The five-time Grammy-winning country singer was adopted at a week old in 1967 by Pat and Edna Perry and raised as Audrey Faith Perry in Star, Mississippi, with two older adopted brothers. In 2004 she located her birth mother who had eventually married her biological father and had a son. She formed a close relationship with her mother until her death in 2007. Ironically, hubby Tim McGraw learned at age 11 his birth father was Tug McGraw, a Major League Baseball player who abandoned his mom before his birth. The two became close eventually, and remained that way until his father's death. 

  • Nicole Richie


    Image © @parisa/Splash News/Corbis

    Born in Berkeley, California, in 1981, the reality TV actress and House of Harlow designer moved in with Lionel Richie and his former wife, Brenda Harvey, when she was 3. She was legally adopted by Richie six years later.

  • Kristin Chenoweth


    Image © ACE/INFphoto.com/Corbis

    Born in 1968, the singer and actress was adopted by a couple from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, at just 5 days old. An advocate for adoption, Chenoweth says she knows the background of her biological parents but has no interest in meeting them.

    More from The Stir: 18 Boy Band Heartthrobs Who Are Now Proud Papas! (PHOTOS)

  • Sarah McLachlan


    Image © Suzanne Cordeiro/Corbis

    The Canadian songstress was adopted shortly after her birth in 1968, joining two adopted brothers. McLachlan has since met her birth mother.

  • Marilyn Monroe


    Image © Screen Prod/Corbis

    Born Norma Jean Baker, the blonde bombshell and movie star spent most of her childhood in foster care after she was abandoned by her widowed mother. At 11 she was finally welcomed into the home of a family friend.

  • Ray Liotta


    Image © Effren S. Landaos/Press Line Photos/Corbis

    Forever known for his role in Goodfellas, a 6-month-old Liotta was adopted in 1954 by Mary Liotta, a town clerk, and her husband Alfred Liotta, the owner of a car parts store and president of the local  Democratic club. The future Hollywood star grew up in Newark, New Jersey, and after the birth of his daughter sought out his birth mother, meeting her and expressing gratitude (but disappointment at her reason) for the adoption.


  • Frances McDormand


    Image via Gigi Iorio/Splash News

    This Fargo star was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1957 and adopted by Canadian-born parents Noreen Eloise, a nurse, and Vernon Weir McDormand, a minister. She grew up in the Pittsburg ‘burbs.

    More from The Stir: 17 Hot Hollywood Celebrities With Super-Sized Families (PHOTOS)

  • Melissa Gilbert


    Image © Gus Ruelas/Reuters/Corbis

    The star of Little House on the Prairie (and current 2016 candidate for Michigan’s 8th congressional district -- wow) credits her adoption by dancer and actress Barbara Crane and actor and comedian Paul Gilbert for her acting chops. Born in Los Angeles to a newly engaged couple, Gilbert was only a day old when she was adopted.

  • Gary Coleman


    Image © Nina Prommer/epa/Corbis

    Born to a homeless woman in 1968, the actor who played the lovable adoptee Arnold on Diff’rent Strokes was adopted by a Chicago nurse practitioner and a fork-lift driver. Unfortunately stardom eventually created a rift between the actor and his adoptive parents; they remained estranged until Coleman’s death in 2010.

  • Darryl "D.M.C." McDaniels


    Image © Daniel “Buddy” Thomas/The Photo Access/The World Access/Corbis

    The D.M.C. (Devastating Mic Controller, in case you've always wondered) of the famous 1980s hip-hop group Run-D.M.C. didn’t know he was adopted until he was 35 and researching his autobiography. Born in 1964 and adopted shortly after birth by Byford and Banna McDaniels, the master of the mic grew up in Hollis, New York. He met his biological mother six years later and has become an advocate for adoption and foster care, receiving the 2006 Congressional Angels in Adoption Award.  


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