Famous Adoptees

Find out which famous people were raised by adoptive families.

Ever since the earliest days of man, families have been formed through adoption. Alexander the Great, who ruled Macedonia from 356 to 323 BC, for instance, was an early adoptee, as was the Hebrew prophet Moses, who was adopted by the princess of Egypt. People from all walks of life have been raised by someone other than their birth parents. In fact, the following entertainers, writers, athletes, politicians, business leaders, and other influential citizens all lived, at least for a time, with adoptive parents, stepparents, relatives, family friends, or in foster families.


  • Halle Berry -- actress
  • Shari Belafonte-Harper -- actress
  • Ingrid Bergman -- actress
  • Richard Burton -- actor
  • Charlotte Church -- singer
  • Nat King Cole -- singer
  • Ella Fitzgerald -- singer
  • Melissa Gilbert -- actress
  • Sara Gilbert -- actress
  • Deborah Harry -- singer
  • Faith Hill -- singer
  • Eartha Kitt -- singer
  • John Lennon -- musician
  • Art Linkletter -- comedian
  • Ray Liotta -- actor
  • Sarah McLachlan -- singer
  • Marilyn Monroe -- actress
  • Priscilla Presley -- actress
  • Buffy Sainte-Marie -- musician
  • Shania Twain -- singer


  • Edward Albee
  • Louisa May Alcott
  • Maya Angelou
  • Charles Dickens
  • Langston Hughes
  • James Michener
  • Edgar Allen Poe
  • Leo Tolstoy


  • Surya Bonaly -- figure skater
  • Peter and Kitty Carruthers -- figure skaters
  • Scott Hamilton -- figure skater
  • Greg Louganis -- diver
  • Dan O'Brien -- decathlete
  • Jim Palmer -- baseball player

Political leaders

  • Alexander the Great
  • Senator Robert Byrd
  • President William Clinton
  • President Gerald Ford
  • President Herbert Hoover
  • Representative Jim Lightfoot
  • Nelson Mandela -- former president of South Africa
  • Senator Paull H. Shin
  • Anthony Williams -- mayor of Washington, D.C.

First ladies

  • Nancy Reagan
  • Eleanor Roosevelt

Business leaders

  • Larry Ellison -- chairman and CEO of Oracle Corporation
  • Steve Jobs -- cofounder of Apple Computer
  • Tom Monaghan -- founder and CEO of Domino's Pizza
  • Dave Thomas -- founder of Wendy's International


  • Aristotle
  • Jean Jacques Rousseau


  • John J. Audubon -- naturalist
  • Les Brown -- motivational speaker
  • George Washington Carver -- inventor
  • Lynnette Cole -- Miss USA 2000
  • Crazy Horse -- Lakota chief
  • Faith Daniels -- news anchor
  • Jesse Jackson -- political activist
  • Charlotte Anne Lopez -- Miss Teen USA 1993
  • Malcolm X -- civil rights leader
  • Moses -- Hebrew prophet
  • Wilson Riles -- educator
  • "Dr. Ruth" Westheimer -- sex therapist and radio personality

Sources: adoption.com, National Adoption Information Clearinghouse, Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.

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