Families come in all shapes and sizes, so today we’re celebrating the celebrities who have grown their close circles through adoption! We recommend you grab a box of tissues because these stories are that heartwarming!
From an actress who grew up with an adopted sibling and wanted her family to look like the one she always knew, to musicians who took in teens when they needed a guardian the most, discover how some of your faves became a parent (below)!
Luke Bryan may have one of the most notable adoption stories and that is because it is incredibly unique. Unfortunately, it is also very sad.
The singer has been candid about the devastating losses he and his loved ones have suffered over the years. If you don’t know, the Most People Are Good vocalist grew up in a tight-knit family in Georgia, but when he was 19 years old, his brother was killed in a car accident. Then, his sister Kelly died from unknown causes in 2007, leaving her husband Ben Lee Cheshire to care for their three children by himself. Seven years later, tragedy struck again when Lee passed away unexpectedly in 2014.
Without skipping a beat, Luke and his wife Caroline Boyer took in Jordan, then 20, Kris, then 16, and Til, then 12, to help support them during the unimaginably tough time. They joined the American Idol judge’s kids Tatum “Tate” Christopher, then 6, and Thomas “Bo” Boyer, then 4. The girls were quickly off to college, but the parents faced an unexpected challenge when suddenly thrust into parenting a teenager once Til moved in with them, the country crooner told People:
“It kind of just happened and I woke up one day and I’m raising a teen. And it’s a challenge because my main thing with Til is just properly giving the right amount of advice and realizing you’re talking to someone who is becoming an adult. I have to be that parent role where if he does something, he needs to get in trouble, but I want to be a friend to him too.”
While Luke and Caroline will never (and don’t intend to) replace Kelly and Lee, they share an incredible bond with their nieces and nephew, now 26, 23, and 19, respectively! They also officially adopted Til since he was so young when he lost his parents.
Hugh Jackman and his wife Deborra-Lee Furness are the parents of two adopted children, daughter Ava Eliot, 16, and son Oscar, 21! There isn’t much information about how the Iron Man lead and his significant other welcomed the children into their family (and we won’t be publishing a pic since the parents prefer to keep them off social media), but they have been vocal about honoring their kids’ cultural backgrounds. So important!
Furness, the founder of an adoption non-profit called Hopeland, which advocates for all kids to “grow up in a safe, loving family,” told People:
“When my son was younger, he found out he was part Bosnian, so we went and got this Croatian/Bosnian cookbook and he was very proud to carry that around when he was 7 years old. My daughter has a Mexican lineage, so we’ve been to Mexico.”
Along with respecting her children’s backgrounds and honoring all that makes them them, the momma noted that it can be a unique experience not sharing the same genetics as her kids. While some might find it disappointing not to have the same inherited traits as their little ones, Deb thinks that can be a good thing, especially when you don’t have “the same dislike.” She explained:
“So it opens me up to be more open to, ‘Ah, look at that probability,’ because so many times, if it’s a birth family, you’ll have the same dislike — you both don’t like mayonnaise or something. You’ll have that, but we have other different spices in there, so it can make it more challenging and it can make it more exciting.”
What a great analogy! It’s so true — adopted children and their backgrounds bring so much to a family!
This is an incredible story. Sia adopted two teenage boys from the foster care system in 2019 after struggling to get pregnant via in vitro fertilization with her ex-husband Erik Anders Lang years prior. In an interview with InStyle, the pop star admitted she had always wanted to become a mother but following her divorce in 2016, she had to put those dreams on the back burner. That was until she watched the HBO documentary Foster about foster care and “everything changed.” The 44-year-old recalled:
“I learned the story of a 16-year-old boy and instantly fell in love with him. Older children have a really hard time getting adopted, and when I saw him, I said to myself, ‘That’s my son.’”
So, she set out to find the teenager, she shared:
“I knew I wanted to help him. By the time I found him, he was 18 and aging out of the foster care system. I told him that I wanted to adopt him, and since he was an adult, he left with me that day.”
But the story gets even more special. The boy, whose name has not been revealed, had one request: for his cousin to come along!
“The only thing he asked was if he could also bring his cousin Che, who had lived with him in a group home. I had two spare bedrooms, so I said, ‘Sure!’ And even though I’d never met Che before, he also moved in with me that evening. Later I found out that they weren’t really cousins, just friends. [laughs] But I didn’t care at all.”
LOLz!! It all worked out as Sia quickly realized “Che was meant to be my son too.” Just because it was all written in the stars doesn’t mean this transition hasn’t been without its challenges. Not only has the musician’s mind been open to the problems within the foster care system, but she had to teach her sons how to be “rigorously honest and live in the moment without using any substances,” she explained:
“There has been a lot of heartache. There has been a lot of lost trust and then a lot of regained trust. But I do trust them both. And I’m proud because they’ve come a very long way.”
The young men are now dedicated to creating change within the foster care system so others don’t have to suffer the way they did. Within weeks of their adoption, the youngest also welcomed two kids into the world making Sia a grandmother now!
Country star Thomas Rhett and his wife Lauren Akins adopted their first child, Willa, in 2016. And their journey to “get this girl to her home” is so beautiful.
Akins first met her now-daughter while on a trip to Uganda. Though she had always considered adopting because her mom was adopted, she didn’t have babies on her mind at the moment (or so she thought). Upon meeting Willa, she knew that the young girl deserved a forever home. While sharing her story on The Kelly Clarkson Show, the 30-year-old recalled:
“I was so moved. The second I touched her, it was electric. I was like, ‘Oh, this little girl has just taken my heart.’ And I was like, ‘Honey, we’ve got to find her her forever home. Like, I know that’s why I’m here — to get this girl to her home.’”
While telling her hubby all about the sweet girl on FaceTime, he immediately suggested that they become that forever home, recalling:
“When I talked to [Lauren] on the phone that night and she said that we need to find her a home… It was after a concert, and I was going to bed, and I was like, ‘Well, bring her home.’ And I don’t fully remember even saying it. It was such a spiritual thing for me that it just came out of my body. And literally two weeks after, we were having home assessments and talking to adoption agencies.”
Wow! Just one year later, they finalized the adoption and learned they were welcoming a second child since Akins found out she was pregnant! They’re now a family of five, with two biological daughters, Ada James, 4, and Lennon Love, 1.
Grey’s Anatomy alum Katherine Heigl was inspired to adopt a child after growing up with an adopted sister!
The actress, who is a mom to three children (two of which were adopted), spoke with Scholastic about why she chose to adopt kids. In the interview, she revealed there was never a question about how she would expand her family, admitting she always “wanted my own family to resemble the one I came from.” Katherine’s older sister was adopted from South Korea, so it was a natural decision for the parents to adopt Naleigh from the same country when she was 9 months old. Love that!
Naleigh even inspired a sentimental song performed by her father Josh Kelley (below).
By 2012, Heigl and Kelley welcomed their second adopted daughter Adalaide, who was born in the US. Four years later, they expanded their family with their first biological son Joshua, now 4. After the pandemic, the 42-year-old seems content with her little ones and isn’t planning to add another human to the group (though she would consider a few more dogs, LOLz).
Now that her adopted daughters are getting older, 12 and 8 respectively, she’s open to them learning as much about their birth parents as they want, she told Parents Magazine in March:
“They do have more questions as they get older. We have said to them, ‘This is your story. We don’t have any information about your biological fathers, but we do have a bit about your biological mothers. If you guys want to talk more about them, you can have as much or as little information as you want. Tell us what you’re comfortable with knowing.’”
Look at that sweet fam (above)! They’ve been living on a family ranch with lots of animals, giving the kids comfort to grow up out of the public eye as much as possible.
Diane Keaton was slow to realize she wanted to become a momma, but when the feeling struck her at age 50, she knew she couldn’t wait around for a man to help her raise a child. The actress got candid about her life leading up to adopting two children, telling MSNBC‘s Ladies Home Journal in 2006:
“I’ve had such an unusual life. Obviously career-oriented. I was happy to be a daughter well into my 40s. That was something that meant a lot to me. I didn’t think that I was ever going to be prepared to be a mother.
Motherhood was not an urge I couldn’t resist, it was more like a thought I’d been thinking for a very long time…I wanted to be in a good relationship. Those good relationships that are strong and substantive never happened for me, and that prolonged my indecisiveness.”
Ever since welcoming daughter Dexter, now 26, and son Duke, now 21, into her close circle, she’s enjoyed focusing on someone other than herself, adding:
“You can’t sit there and go, poor me.”
While at one point she wished she hadn’t been a single mother, Diane seems to have done a great job raising her kids all by herself. Her daughter even got married over the summer!
The Today Show host Hoda Kotb always knew she wanted to be a mother — it wasn’t ever something she had to think twice about. Unfortunately, after a battle with cancer left her unable to conceive and a divorce from her husband Burzis Kanga, she felt the cards just weren’t on the table.
For a long time, Hoda felt “a hole” in her life that she believed could only be filled by parenthood. That void was so painful that she sometimes fantasized about ditching the spotlight for a job as a teacher or summer camp counselor! It didn’t help that people would often ask her about kids, she shared:
“People would say, ‘Oh, do you have kids?’ And I’d feel like, ‘Ouch.’ I knew inside it was supposed to be for me.”
Just as she was moving in with her now-fiancé Joel Schiffman, she decided to broach the topic, recalling:
“I was afraid to even say it out loud, because then it felt so real. I said, ‘Think about it for a day or a week or whatever.’ And he said, ‘I don’t need a day. Let’s get this journey going.’ At that point I blubbered like a baby. It was like the dam burst.”
Soon after, she welcomed home her first child, Haley Joy, now 4, with the help of a New York adoption agency. In 2019, the couple adopted a second child, Hope, 2. They are patiently waiting to adopt a third child, but the process has slowed down during the COVID-19 pandemic, with fewer babies up for adoption, according to Hoda’s current agency.
See the sweet family bonding during Hoda’s maternity leave (below)!
Madonna adopted four children from a small southeast Africa country named Malawi. She was already the mom of two, so that made her the busy mom of Lourdes, 25 (whom she shares with Carlos Leon), and Rocco, 21, and her adopted kiddos David, 16, Mercy, 15, and twins Estere and Stella, 9. Incredible!
While speaking to People in 2017, the pop star reflected on the unfortunate reaction she received when she first adopted David, who she met while visiting Home of Hope, an orphanage in Malawi’s capital city. He was fighting pneumonia and malaria at the time, and she knew from the moment she laid eyes on him that they shared a special connection. After finalizing the adoption in 2018, she reflected:
“Every newspaper said I kidnapped him. In my mind, I was thinking, ‘Wait a minute. I’m trying to save somebody’s life. Why are you all s**tting on me right now?’ I did everything by the book. That was a real low point for me. I would cry myself to sleep.”
Oh, my… That’s terrible!!
Things proved increasingly challenging as she tried to adopt Mercy, whom she met around the same time as David. Because she had recently divorced Guy Ritchie (with whom she shares Rocco), Malawian officials didn’t think she was “capable of raising a child.” WTF?? So sexist!
Of course, the adoption eventually went through and she added twins from the same orphanage in 2017, as well. But just because she’s adopted so many children, the musician insisted it’s been extra difficult for her because of her celebrity status:
“Because I’m a public figure, people don’t want to be perceived as giving me any kind of special treatment, so I get the hard road.”
It was clearly worth it though! The Queen of Pop loves to gush about her kiddos online, whether she’s wishing them a happy birthday or showing off one of their many talents. Love that!
One last unique adoption story for ya! Lionel Richie adopted his daughter Nicole from another musician. In 2015, the American Idol judge opened up about the adoption for the very first time, telling Piers Morgan on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories:
“I went to a Prince concert and there on the stage in the middle of the concert was this four-year-old kid playing the tambourine. So I went backstage and I knew the mother and I knew the father [Karen Moss and Peter Michael Escovedo] and, of course, they were having difficulties with their relationship. I said, ‘While you are having the difficulty the kid is sitting out here in limbo so I’ll tell you what I’ll do, just put the kid in my house until the tour is over with and then we will sort this out later.’”
The birth parents were fine with that, so off the “little button” went with Lionel. In time, they would soon create a very special bond, the proud father, who also shares kids Miles, 27, and Sofia, 23, with ex-wife Diane Alexander, added:
“And so it took about maybe a year for me to just fall in love and she was a little button, and of course by that time I was Dad and so I said, ‘OK here is what we are going to do, you’re going to make everyone wish that they had adopted you. You are going to make everyone in your family wish they actually had a chance to get you back,’ and that’s when I said, ‘Let’s adopt her.’”
Awww!! Over the years, Richie has proven how strong his bond is with Nicole. When she was arrested for heroin possession in 2003, the songwriter was quick to show support, recalling:
“I said, ‘When I was growing up I lost three friends, they were the hippest friends I ever knew in life … I said, ‘It’s going to happen to your generation. I don’t want you to be in that list of three because after that you’ll be just fine.’”
Sadly, over those next few years, the now 40-year-old lost two friends. Worried she would become the “third” to die because of her addiction, she called the musician for help. He instantly canceled his tour and checked Nicole into rehab. Today, she’s doing great and even has two kids of her own, Harlow and Sparrow, whom she shares with husband Joel Madden. We love a happy ending!
Reactions, Perezcious readers? Do you have a favorite celebrity adoption story that didn’t make the list? Let us know (below)!