Celebrity

12 Celebrities Who Have Spoken Out About Being Adopted And How It's Affected Them

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Families come in all different varieties. For some, family means a ton of siblings who get along. For others, it means being an only child with a single parent. Family doesn't have a strict definition, but the one thing families have in common is love.

That's why adoption is such a wonderful thing to do. You're choosing a child to be added to your family, and acknowledging that you will love them unconditionally as though you were related by blood.

A lot of people think kids who are adopted mainly come from outside of the country, but there are a lot of people who get adopted right here in our country, we just don't always know about it.

These famous celebrities are all adopted, some by total strangers and others by extended families.

1. Ric Flair

The 16-time World Heavyweight Champion was born in 1949 to Luther and Olive Phillips. However, he was put up for adoption after his birth through the Tennessee Children's home society.

Born Fred Phillips, the future pro-wrestler was adopted and brought to Detroit, where his new father was completing his residency.

Seems pretty legit, right? Wrong.

It turns out, the Tennessee Children's Home Society was an illegal adoption ring, but parents who sought out their help had no idea they were essentially adopting from the black market.

The TCHS was headed by Georgia Tann, who had a history of sending kids out of state to be adopted so she could charge more money for the kids.

No one ever really questioned it, because at least kids were getting homes.

The bigger issue arose when it was determined how Tann was finding some of the children. Poor, uneducated parents would be tricked into giving up custody of their kids, with the help of a corrupt judge.

Unmarried mothers who gave birth were told their child had died during, when in fact they had just been taken away to be adopted. It was all extremely shady, and eventually shut down.

ANYWAY, TCHS is how Ric Flair was adopted. He never met his biological parents, due largely in part to the fabricated adoption papers which said he was willingly abandoned.

2. Simone Biles

The Olympic gold medalist opened up about her adoption before a performance on Dancing With The Stars. She was adopted by her grandfather and his wife after spending time in foster care, and it changed her life.

Simone Biles (left) and her sister Adria
Simone Biles (left) and her sister AdriaAcademy of Achievement

"Growing up, my biological mom was suffering from drug and alcohol abuse and she was in and out of jail," Biles explained. "I never had mom to run to. I do remember always being hungry and afraid. At 3 years old, I was placed in foster care."

"Whenever we had visits with my grandpa, I was so excited," she said through tears. "That was the person I always wanted to see walk in to the foster home."

After she was adopted, her grandparents said "You know how you called us Grandma and Grandpa? You can call us Mom and Dad now, if you want to."

Biles credits her parents for turning her life as a foster child into one as a famed Olympian.

"My parents saved me," Biles said. "They’ve set huge examples of how to treat other people, and they’ve been there to support me since day one. There’s nothing I could say to them to thank them enough."

3. Nancy Reagan

The former first lady's childhood was not as glamorous as her later life would be. Born Anne Frances Robbins, her parents, Kenneth Robbins and Edith Luckett Robbins, split not long after she was born. Her nickname "Nancy" came early on.

Kenneth was a salesman and left during Nancy's infancy. Edith, on the other hand, was an aspiring actress who could not care for a young daughter. She sent the baby to be raised by her aunt and uncle, Virginia and C. Audley Galbraith.

Virginia would take Nancy to see her mother whenever Edith was close by for a theater run, and once Edith married a neurosurgeon, named Loyal Davis, she took her daughter back. Two years later, Nancy was legally adopted by Loyal, and she changed her last name to Davis.

4. Scott Hamilton

The Olympic figure skater was born in 1958, and was adopted at just six weeks old by Dorothy and Ernest Hamilton, both professors. Scott's younger brother with the Hamiltons was also adopted, and he had an older sister who was the biological daughter of Dorothy and Ernest.

Adoption has always been important to Scott, which is why he and his wife Tracie decided to adopt two children from Haiti. Jean Paul and his sister Evelyne came into the Hamilton family in 2014, after their parents died in the 2010 earthquake which devastated the country.  

“They’re beautiful, beautiful children and our hearts are twice the size they were before," Hamilton said. "We’re blessed beyond our wildest dreams. To have a daughter — holy cow. It changes everything."

5. Kelly Preston

Kelly Kamalelehua Smith was born in Hawaii to her father and mother, Linda. Her mom was the administrator at a mental health center, and her father worked for an agricultural firm. Sadly, when Kelly was just three years old, her father died in a drowning incident.

Her mother later re-married to a man named Peter Palzis, who adopted Kelly as his own. Kelly used the name Palzis in Hollywood until 1984, when she changed it over to Preston.

6. Faith Hill

Faith Hill knew she was adopted her whole childhood, her parents never hid it from her. When she asked why her biological mom gave her up, her parents said it was because she was the product of an extramarital affair.

“I used to think there was some kind of conspiracy, that I must be the daughter of one of my aunts. And of course I used to dream I was Elvis’ daughter,” Hill said in an interview. “I have a great family: salt of the earth, hardworking."

"But I’m a gypsy at heart. I had a spirit that was completely outside what my family was," she continued. "I didn't know anyone I was related to, biologically, which gives you a sense of not knowing who you are."

The country singer later found her birth mother, and found out she wasn't the product of an affair at all. She chose not to get close with her biological mother, although she admitted that finding out she was a painter helped Faith understand why she was a free spirit.

7. Tim McGraw

McGraw found out he was adopted after working on a school project when he was 11 years old. He had always grown up thinking his step-father, Horace Smith, was his biological dad, but when he found his birth certificate, he noticed Horace was not listed.

His mother, Betty, admitted that his father was in fact professional baseball player Tug McGraw. Tug initially denied his paternity, but when Tim was about 18, the ball player noticed their similarities and admitted he was his father.

“My mom and dad dated her senior year in high school," Tim said. "He was a minor-league baseball player. She got pregnant, moved to Louisiana and it was one of those things. It wasn’t like they were longtime high school sweethearts, it was just that summer. I think my mom felt it was something she got herself into and that she would deal with it. I grew up happy.”

Tug has also admitted that Betty deserves the credit.

“I listen to country music now, the way my dad started watching box scores when I started being a pitcher,” Tug said. “I get a lot of play because I have some fame, but you can’t say enough about the bond he has with his mother. I wasn’t there in his formative years. Timmy is a nice, courteous, respectful young man and his mother Betty has to get the credit for that.”

The two remained close until Tug's death in 2004.

8. JC Chasez

The *NSYNC band member has rarely opened up about his adoption, but the story is interesting. He spoke about it in length during a radio interview in 2008.

"I was adopted when I was close to, like, I'm gonna say it's like five and a half or so, so I was aware of the whole thing," he said. "Um, but uh, yeah, I know who my mother is, you know, she raised me up until when I was five, so I have a very clear idea of who she was. And my parents were very open-minded to the fact that she was actually…wow, I haven't, I don't think I've ever spoken about this in public."

"She knew who my parents were 'cause she was actually fostered by them at one point," he continued. "I don't know who my father is or anything like that. I mean, it's been offered to actually, you know, my parents said, 'Do you want to go look for him? We'll help you.' Everything like that. But I just never, it's just never been something that has kind of like pushed me, I guess, at this point in my life. I'm content knowing my mother and things like that."

But despite being given up for adoption, Chasez said he admires his biological mother's choice.

"She's a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful woman," he said of his birth mother. "You know, she…that's it. It's like, it's a matter of, we were like, you know, apartment-hopping and homeless from time to time, and you know, and she, it's like 'He's five years old. This kid needs to be in school. He needs something steady.'"

"You know, and she, as much as she loved me, had to make the choice of basically separating herself, you know, as the day-to-day mother in order to give me a better life," Chasez continued. "And I'm thankful for that judgment as well. It means, to me it means that she loved me even more to do that, you know. I'm a very, very fortunate person."

9. Frances McDormand

The Oscar-winning actress was adopted when she was just a year old, by a Canadian religious couple named Noreen and Vernon McDonald. They had already taken in nine children, and were traveling the United States. The New York Times suspects that McDormand's biological mother was a member of the family's parish.

McDormand has rarely spoken about her childhood, but did get into some trouble when she said her mother was white trash.

“My parents were not white trash. My birth mother was white trash," she clarified.

McDormand and her husband, Joel Coen, adopted their son Pedro, in 1995 when he was six months old.

10. Sarah McLachlan

The Canadian singer was adopted at a young age, and says she never considers her adopted mother as anything else than her "real" mom.

"When I think about my mother who raised me, you know, she's my mother," McLachlan said. "I think about how she did things and how I said 'I'll never be like her' and how I'm very much like her now. It's not that important to me. It was very matter of fact, I was happy I had the parents I had. I'm not much to dwell on what may have been."

McLachlan also admitted she's thankful she was placed up for adoption.

"Perhaps I was too young to understand it really, but it just never was a big issue to me," the singer said. "I never had this empty place in me thinking that I've missed out somewhere, or that I was abandoned. I met my mother several years ago -- my birth mother -- and I'm thankful that she gave me up."

"Because she was an artist, she was way too young, she was 19 years old," she continued. "She would have had to go and live in rural Newfoundland, and she wouldn't have been able to pursue any of her dreams."

11. Kristin Chenoweth

The actress and Broadway star is extremely open about her adoption, and praises her birth parents for choosing a better life for her.

"I’ve always known that I was adopted. It was never a secret or held from me," she wrote on her blog. "I knew that my birth mother loved me so much that she wanted to give me a better life. And my parents, Jerry and Junie Chenoweth, were looking to adopt a baby and found me – literally less than one week after I was born."

"Growing up, my parents explained my adoption by telling me, 'We chose you.' It was a wonderful way to put it to an adopted child. And I think it’s true. An adoption is a full-circle blessing."

She also sent a message to other kids who have been adopted, reminding them that they were not abandoned.

"We weren’t abandoned; we were chosen," she wrote. "We were given a chance. I’m not saying it’s not hard or that it’s easy for people to understand. But it really isn’t for the world to understand; it’s for the people who are involved."

"People always ask me: 'Have you ever wanted to find your parents?'" she continued. "I have discovered a little bit about my biological parents and each piece of information helps me, but ultimately I tell people: 'I have my parents.'"

12. Jack Nicholson

Nicholson's story sounds like it's from a movie, but it's definitely real life.

Jack's mother got pregnant with him when she was just 16 years old. She wanted to continue pursuing her dance career, so her mother (Jack's grandmother) agreed to adopt the baby as her own. Jack grew up thinking his mom was his sister, and that his grandmother was his mom.

It wasn't until he was 37 years old that the actor found out the truth. Time Magazine had called him to verify some facts for a story, including the fact that June Nicholson, who he'd thought was his sister, was actually his mother.

Jack denied it, but then called his uncle Shorty (who he thought was his brother-in-law) to find out if it was true. Shorty said he didn't know anything about it, but a few hours later Jack got a call from him.

“Jack, it’s Shorty, I’m gonna put Lorraine on the phone.  I just want to say one thing – she’s been crying all night.  Here she is.”

Lorraine, who Jack thought was his sister but was actually his aunt, confirmed that June was his mother. But even though he would have every right to be upset that he was lied to his entire life, Jack really didn't mind.

“I didn’t have to deal with it with them. They were dead," he said of the secrets. “I am that kind of person-what do I feel-and had the tools to know what I feel. Gratitude...I'd say it was a pretty dramatic event, but it wasn't what I'd call traumatizing... As a matter of fact, it made quite a few things clearer to me. If anything, I felt grateful."

Jack also says his adoption is the reason he is anti-abortion.

“I’m positively against it. I don’t have the right to any other view," he said. “[If June and Ethel had been] of less character, I never would have gotten to live. These women gave me the gift of life.”

Would you have been as relaxed as Jack Nicholson after learning these secrets?

Meagan has an intense love for Netflix, napping, and carbs. If you have a comment about one of Meagan's articles feel free to contact Tristan@shared.com