These Adopted Celebrities Prove There Are Many Paths To Success

It may seem like celebrities grew up with a silver spoon, but that isn’t always the case. Some were born to parents who couldn’t afford to care for them, and were raised by either relatives, friends of the family, or strangers that became family. You may be shocked to discover that celebrities like Faith Hill, Jamie Foxx, and Michael Bay all were adopted. Read on to see how these stars found their adoptive home and blossomed to the top of Hollywood.

Nicole Richie’s Birth Parents Were Friends Of Lionel Richie

ACM Presents: Lionel Richie And Friends - In Concert - Backstage And Audience
Kevin Winter/ACMA2012/Getty Images for ACM
Desiree Navarro/FilmMagic

You may already know that television personality Nicole Richie was adopted because her father is the famous musician Lionel Richie. What may be a surprise is that Nicole’s biological parents were friends with Lionel. When the couple realized they couldn’t financially support Nicole, Lionel stepped in.

Richie and his former wife, Brenda Harvey, officially adopted Nicole when she was nine-years-old. Lionel even wrote the song “Ballerina Girl” about her. Nicole grew up surrounded by famous musicians. Quincy Jones said in an interview with People that he’s known her from infantry and called her “a very smart girl.”

Eric Clapton Thought His Mother Was His Sister

Eric Clapton 1990
Frans Schellekens/Redferns/Getty Images
Frans Schellekens/Redferns/Getty Images

Eric Clapton’s biological mother had him at the age of 16. His father was a 25-year-old Canadian soldier who fought overseas shortly after Eric was born. The legendary musician was raised by his grandparents, which gave him the impression that his biological mother was his sister.

Despite the confusing upbringing, Eric excelled at playing the guitar in his teenage years. Though he started off uninterested, he eventually became such a rapid talent that he was professionally performing by the age of 17. Eric’s mother eventually remarried and moved to Germany, further solidifying his grandparents’ role as guardians.

A Family Friend Became Marilyn Monroe’s Legal Guardian

Marilyn Portrait
Baron/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Baron/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Marilyn Monroe didn’t always have the most glamorous life. She was born to an impoverished family and her mother struggled to take care of her. When Marilyn was seven, she and her mother moved in with a couple who eventually became Marilyn’s foster parents.

The star later became a ward of the state until a family friend, Grace Goddard, became her legan guardian. When Grace and her husband decided to move out of state, they faced a legal dilemma that prevented Monroe from leaving with them. To solve this issue, Marilyn married at 16-years-old and became a housewife before starting her modeling career.

Faith Hill Was Adopted As An Infant

Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Faith Hill is among the most successful in the world of country music, and it all started with a Mississippi couple who adopted the star when she was a baby. Edna and Ted Perry proved to be supportive adoptive parents, enabling Faith to get into music at a young age.

Faith was just seven-years-old the first time she performed before a public audience. A decade later, her band was doing rodeo gigs. Around the same time she moved to Nashville, Faith sought out to find her biological mother with the support of her adoptive family. The eventual meeting gave Faith a deeper understanding of herself.

John Lennon’s Maternal Aunt Became His Adoptive Parent

John Lennon
Michael Putland/Getty Images
Michael Putland/Getty Images

John Lennon was born to Alfred and Julia Lennon, but his father was often away from home for months at a time. Julia’s aunt, Mimi, eventually took over custody for John, but Alfred continued to visit his son for a time.

Mimi married George Smith and the two didn’t have children other than John. Mimi taught John to read short stories and George introduced him to instruments. Julia visited throughout John’s childhood and played him Elvis’s music. These influences all went into his music and helped make him The Beatles frontman that he was.

Snooki Was Adopted From Chile As A Baby

Spike TV�s 7th Annual Video Game Awards - Red Carpet
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Getty Images
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Long before Snooki was on Jersey Shore, she was a baby in Chile in need of a family. When she was six months old, Snooki was adopted by a volunteer firefighter who worked as an auto-salvage supervisor and an office manager.

The reality TV star attended high school in New York and was a cheerleader. She studied to become a veterinary technician at community college before appearing on MTV’s Is She Really Going Out With Him? and the rest is history.

Debbie Harry’s Birth Mother Was Also Into Music

Brian Cooke/Redferns/Getty Images
Brian Cooke/Redferns/Getty Images

The frontwoman of Blondie, Debbie Harry was adopted at just three months old, but she still inherited her birth mother’s musical talent. Her adoptive parents were gift shop owners who raised Debbie in New Jersey.

The couple told Debbie about her being adopted when she was four-years-old, and she later found her biological mother, a concert pianist. It’s no wonder Debbie moved to New York City to embark on her music career in early adulthood. Sometimes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Jamie Foxx Was Raised By His Mother’s Adoptive Parents

Premiere Of New Line Cinema's
David Buchan/Getty Images
David Buchan/Getty Images

Not only was Jamie Foxx adopted, but so was his birth mother. Her adoptive parents were nurse operator Esther Marie and yard worker Mark Talley. When Jamie was just seven-months-old, Esther and Mark adopted him.

Though the actor’s birth parents predominantly remained out of his life, Jamie developed a very close relationship with his adoptive family. In interviews, Jamie has credited his grandmother for being a major part of his success. He told Oprah that she was the one who got him to play the piano.

Michael Bay Was Raised By Adoptive Parents In LA

Tribute To Michael Bay And 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E' Premiere - 41st Deauville American Film Festival
Francois G. Durand/WireImage/Getty Images
Francois G. Durand/WireImage/Getty Images

Michael Bay is known for his Hollywood-esque directing style, full of big explosions and dramatic cutaways. What else could you expect from a Los Angeles native? The director was born in the City of Angels and raised by a child psychiatrist who also owned a book store and worked as an accountant.

Michael says that his love for directing dates back to a firecracker experiment he filmed as a child. He went on to attend Santa Monica High School and interned with George Lucas at the age of 15. Michael’s adoptive cousin, Susan Bay is also in the entertainment industry as an actress and model.

Sarah McLachlan Didn’t Know She Was Adopted Until Age 9

2010 Lilith Fair - Noblesville, IN
Scott Legato/FilmMagic/Getty Images
Scott Legato/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan was adopted at such a young age by such an inclusive family that she didn’t even know she was adopted until the age of nine. When Sarah was just four, she started playing instruments.

Seeing her talent, Sarah’s parents put her in the Maritime Conservatory of Music and she formed the rock band The October Game as a teen. The band was successful enough to open for Moev, and the show scored Sarah her first recording contract. Through a mutual friend, Sarah reconnected with her birth mother but the encounter didn’t develop into a relationship.

Ray Liotta Was Picked Out Of An Orphanage At Six Months

SAG-AFTRA Foundation's Conversations With Ray Liotta
Vincent Sandoval/Getty Images
Vincent Sandoval/Getty Images

Ray Liotta’s tough-as-nails acting talent may stem from his first months living at an orphanage. Fortunately, the performer was adopted at just six-months-old by a township clerk and the owner of an auto parts store.

Ray grew up with a sister who was also adopted, and their parents were very forthcoming about them both being adopted. Well into adulthood, Ray hired a private detective to find his biological mother and siblings, most of whom are half-blooded. Though meeting his mother helped him find closure, Ray told The Guardian, “I was really grateful that I was adopted.”

Kristin Chenoweth Was Adopted At The Age Of Five

Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Musical theater star Kristin Chenoweth was five-years-old when she was adopted by a pair of chemical engineers. In an interview with Katie Couric, Kristin revealed that she met her birth mother later on in life and thinks highly of her.

Kristin also said that she considers herself lucky to have been adopted and calls it a “full circle blessing.” Thanks to the unconditional love and support of her adoptive parents, Kristin was able to perform in school plays growing up and obtain a master’s degree in opera performance.

JC Chasez’s Mom Had Her Former Foster Parents Take Over

102.7 KIIS-FM's Wango Tango On-Air 2004
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc/Getty Images
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc/Getty Images

JC Chasez is well-known as one of the lead singers of N’SYNC, but not everyone knows about his unique childhood. JC’s biological mother was raised in the foster care system, so when she discovered she was expecting JC, she knew just what to do.

His mom went to her beloved foster care parents who took over JC’s guardianship. Growing up, the star-to-be found that singing helped him break out of his shyness. He went on to land a spot on The Mickey Mouse Club at the age of 15, where he met his future bandmate, Justin Timberlake!

George Lopez’s Grandparents Stepped In To Raise Him

Valerie Macon/Getty Images
Valerie Macon/Getty Images

George Lopez was born in Los Angeles to Frieda and Anastasio Lopez. Anastasio stepped out of the picture when George was two months old, and Frieda called it quits on motherhood when George was ten-years-old.

George’s grandmother and her husband stepped in to raise George. With their support, he was able to finish high school and went on to pursue a career in standup comedy. In 2000, Sandra Bullock called on George to star in a sitcom that resulted in the hit show George Lopez.

Ice-T Lived With His Aunt And Uncle

Uncle Jamm's Army Reunion
Earl Gibson III/Getty Images
Earl Gibson III/Getty Images

Rapper Ice-T lost both of his parents at a young age. After his mother passed, Ice-T’s father took care of him as a single parent for four years before he too passed. At that point, the 12-year-old Ice-T went to live with an aunt.

He was then placed with another aunt and uncle, who raised him for the rest of his childhood. Before Ice-T’s cousin left for college, the boys shared a room. The music this cousin listened to was the basis of Ice-T’s love for heavy metal.

Frances McDormand’s Name Changed When She Was Adopted

Jemal Countess/Getty Images
Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Award-winning actress Frances McDormand was born Cynthia Ann Smith, a name given by her birth parents. At the age of one and a half, Noreen and Vernon McDorman adopted and renamed Frances. The couple went on to adopt two other children, giving Frances two siblings who she grew up with.

Frances later discovered that her biological mother may have gone to the church where Vernon was a pastor. The star ended up getting her Master of Fine Arts degree in drama from Yale!

Darryl McDaniels Didn’t Know He Was Adopted Until Adulthood

The GRAMMY Museum Presents A Day With Darryl
Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images
Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images

Darryl McDaniels, better known as DMC, was in foster care until he was adopted by a family at a young age. He attended high school in Manhattan and later in Queens, and discovered his love for rap as a teen.

Darryl was adopted at such a young age that he didn’t even know that the family who raised him was not his biological family. When the famous rapper decided to write a memoir, his mother revealed to Darryl that he was adopted. The star then decided to publically document his journey to finding his birth mom, which he did.

Melissa Gilbert Was Adopted By Actors

Melissa Gilbert Book Event
David Buchan/Getty Images
David Buchan/Getty Images

The Little House On The Prairie star Melissa Gilbert was put up for adoption as soon as she was born. The very next day, actors Paul Gilbert and Barbara Crane decided to adopt Melissa.

The couple also adopted Jonathan Gilbert, another child actor who appeared on The Little House On The Prairie. Though the couple eventually split, their connections made it possible for both children to get into the entertainment industry. Melissa started out in commercials and performed in film for much of her childhood.

Steve Jobs’ Mother Secretively Put Him Up For Adoption

Steve Jobs, Apple P.D.G Imac This In Paris On September 17Th, 1998 In Paris,France
William STEVENS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
William STEVENS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs didn’t have a typical childhood. His biological mom’s family didn’t approve of his biological father. When Steve’s mother, Joanne, discovered that she was pregnant, she fled to San Francisco and put him up for adoption without telling anyone.

Joanne picked out a couple to adopt Steve, but the plans fell through. Steve ended up being placed with a couple that Joanne was at first reluctant to sign off on. It’s a good thing she eventually did because Steve has praised his adoptive parents for the important role they played in his life.

Louis Armstrong Bounced Around Caretakers

Louis Armstrong...
David Redfern/Redferns/Getty Images
Getty Images

Famed jazz performer Louis Armstrong was born in New Orleans just after the turn of the 20th century. His mother was only sixteen at the time, and his father ended up leaving the family. For the first few years of his life, Louis’ grandmother was his primary caretaker.

A family called the Karnoffskys eventually took Louis in and treated him like their own. From there, Louis bounced between his father and his mother until he was old enough to take care of himself. Despite the wishy-washy upbringing, Louis managed to commit to his music.