7 Influential Figures You Didn't Know Were Adopted!
1. Dave Thomas
Originally born in New Jersey, The founder of Wendy’s an American fast-food franchise. Thomas was adopted at the mere age of 6 weeks old. Spending most of his childhood working in several restaurants, he dropped out of education at the age of 15 to pursue a full-time position in a Restaurant in Indiana. Eventually going on to create the third most popular burger restaurant in America. In relation to his adoption and the desire to give back, he founded ’The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption’. Created in 1992, it is a non-profit public charity seeking to help as many of the 140,000+ children who are currently in North America’s foster care systems find a permanent forever family. Running a wealth of programmes and national awareness activities effectively to heighten the awareness of all foster care children waiting to be adopted.
2. Simone Biles
Placed in foster care at the age of 3, Simone’s birth mother struggled with drug and alcohol abuse. As a result, her birth mother’s father (Simone’s grandfather) and his second wife made the decision to legally adopt Simone. She has publicly expressed how thankful she is for her parents ‘saving her’ and setting a huge example for her and her other siblings growing up, who were also adopted by her grandfather and her great aunt. Her career proved to be incredible at such a young age as Simone championed in gymnastics. Winning a combined total of nineteen Olympic and world championship medals, surpassing the last record held in 1993. Simone is someone who is not only a role model for the young black community around the world but for adoptees who may feel they are hindered because of it. She is proof that although adoption is not always visible, it does not define who you are. It is not a defining factor of your worth or success or how far you can take yourself in life.
3. Nelson Mandela
Undoubtedly one of the most important and influential figures known to anyone, Nelson Mandela was adopted at the age of 9 years old by the regent of the Thembu people, Chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo after his father passed away. Raised by Dalindyebo and his wife alongside their biological son and daughter, he was the first in his family to have received a formal education. Flourishing into an anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader and philanthropist he helped to fight against the white minority’s oppressive regime in South Africa. Though subjected to brutal conditions in imprisonment, he still encouraged his fellow prisoners to seek better treatment through nonviolent resistance and remained a symbolic leader. As a global advocate for human rights, he became the first black president of South Africa in 1994.
4. Jack Nicholson
Portrayed in many of his films as the psychopathic villain or anti-hero, Jack Nicholson’s story as an adoptee is one which would stun anybody. Born to an unmarried 18-year-old Showgirl and the product of an affair, Nicholson’s biological grandparents made the decision to adopt him. Raised as if he were their own son, his birth mother and his aunt both pretended to be his sisters. It wasn’t until he was 37 that this information was revealed via the tabloids, at which point his birth mother and grandmother had both passed away. On speaking about this revelation Nicholson said “[it was] a pretty dramatic event, but it wasn’t what I’d call traumatizing… I was pretty well psychologically formed”. Seemingly, however, this did not hinder Nicholson's performance, he is the most nominated male actor in Academy Awards history for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor roles. Furthermore, with 3 Oscar wins, 3 Academy Awards, 6 Golden Globe Awards and 60 well respected years in the film business it is no wonder he was inducted into the California and New Jersey Hall of Fame.
5. Jamie Foxx
Known to the many as a singer, songwriter, producer, actor, and award winner Jamie Foxx born Eric Marlon Bishop was adopted by his grandmother at age 7 who was actually his birth mothers adopted mother. Thus, they weren’t biologically related. He was raised by his grandmother having little contact with his birth parents during his upbringing and has previously expressed he owes his success all to his grandmother. To give back to the adoptee community, The Jamie Foxx Foundation administered by The California Community Foundation was created with the aim to emphasize literacy and exposure to music, comedy, and the arts among children. More specifically, providing adoption programmes and promoting the health, education, and welfare of adoptees around the world.
6. Steve Jobs
Adopted as an infant, Jobs was the biological son of John Jandali born and raised in an Arab Muslim household in Syria and Joanna Schnieble of Swiss and German heritage. As the relationship was forbidden by his birth mother’s parents, Jobs was put up for adoption as a result. Mr. and Mrs. Jobs became his adoptive parents and he grew up with a sister who was also adopted. Having relocated during his teens, his family home became one surrounded by mostly neighboring engineers which lead to his first summer job with Hewlett-Packard. It was here that he met Steve Wozniak his future co-founder and it was his garage that became the bedrock of his esteemed Apple empire. Arguably, if Jobs’ birth parents had married and raised him, his environment would not have been conducive to a budding computer entrepreneurial career and you would not be reading this on your iPhone right now. Although those who are pro-nature of the nature vs nurture debate are likely to say aspects of his character, such as his intelligence, fanaticism, desire for perfectionism and his charisma interwoven to create his genetic framework may instead have been responsible for such an establishment. What do you think?
7. Marilyn Monroe
Born to the real name Norma Jeane Mortenson, Monroe’s birth mother placed her into foster care not long after birth. She went on to bounce between the homes of family friends, foster carers and orphanages as a result of her birth mother suffering a mental breakdown and being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. A family friend became her guardian whom she stayed with for a short while before being placed back into an orphanage. More permanently, she found solace in the home of her legal guardian’s aunt until elderly health issues forced Monroe to move back with her legal guardians. At the age of 16, to prevent Monroe from moving back to the orphanage she married a 21 year old factory worker as her guardians weren’t legally allowed to take her with them when they relocated for work. During married life, she began a new job at a Factory which turned out to be the best decision she probably ever made. It was here she met photographer David Conover who she began modelling for. This landed her a modelling contract and her career took flight. Such an internationally known and intensely followed career lent to The American Film Institute naming her the sixth greatest female screen legend in American film history. Art historian Gail Levin stated she may have been the “most photographed person of the 20th century”. Furthermore, both Variety and VH1 have placed her in their top ten rankings of the ‘greatest pop culture icons of the 20th century’. Although famed as an idol this was always at conflict, her position as a beauty icon, and one of the most famous figures of classical hollywood cinema was nevertheless, fought against her troubled childhood, erratic private life and controversial death. Thus her legacy remains a topic of divided opinion.