There are all different kinds of parents. Young parents, old parents. Parents who aren’t married (parents who are almost married), parents who have been married forever. Hot dads, beautiful moms, LGBTQ+ parents…
There are many journeys to parenthood. Of these 28 celebrities, some are biological parents, some are step-parents, some are single parents, but they are all adoptive parents.
Rosie O’Donnell has long been a foster and adoptive mother and has been an advocate for adoptive rights for LGBTQ+ people since she officially came out in 2002. O’Donnell adopted the first of her five children, Parker, born in 1995, followed by Chelsea, born in 1997, Blake, born in 1999, and Dakota, born in 2013. Her daughter Vivienne was born in 2002 by her then-partner Kelli Carpenter through artificial insemination. Carpenter is also Parker’s adoptive mother; Dakota was adopted by O’Donnell and her then-wife Michelle Rounds. Although she is publicly feuding with her daughter Chelsea now (and not for the first time), O’Donnell is pictured above in 2010 with Parker and Chelsea.
Pictured above with her son Jackson and then-partner Sean Penn in 2014, Charlize Theron adopted Jackson in 2012 and then her daughter August in 2015 on her own; though she was with Penn for over a year and the couple was engaged for a time, he was not part of the adoption. Theron has come under both critique and praise by the media and social media users for allowing 5-year-old Jackson to wear traditionally female clothing, allowing the boy to dress up as Elsa from Frozen for Halloween and being spotted out and about with her son wearing things like pink leggings, tutus, and braid extensions.
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt
When one thinks of celebrities adopting children, Angelina Jolie is likely the first person that comes to mind. The Jolie-Pitt family is comprised of once married Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt and their six kids: Maddox, Pax, Zahara, Shiloh, and twins Vivienne and Knox. Maddox and Zahara were first adopted by Jolie on her own and later adopted by Pitt, but Pax came into their family jointly with Pitt. Shiloh, Vivienne, and Knox are the couple’s biological children. The family is pictured in 2014, two years before Jolie filed for divorce. The divorce was finalized recently and the two actors will share custody of the children.
Although Sandra Bullock plays a Southern belle who adopts a teenage son in The Blind Side, the circumstances under which Bullock became an adoptive mother IRL are much different than in the movie. Bullock began the adoption process of her infant son with her then-husband Jesse James in 2010; Louis even began to live with the couple. Following the divorce thanks to James’s infidelity (not his last cheating scandal), Bullock proceeded with the adoption as a single mother, as pictured above in 2013. Bullock adopted a baby girl in 2015 and rumors have spread about the possible adoption of a third child, this time with her partner Bryan Randall.
Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise
Before Nicole Kidman’s marriage to Keith Urban and after Tom Cruise’s marriage and subsequent divorce to Mimi Rogers – but before his marriage and subsequent divorce to Katie Holmes – Kidman and Cruise were married for 11 years and adopted two children, Isabella and Connor. During the marriage, Kidman lost two children due to an ectopic pregnancy and a miscarriage. Kidman, who has two biological children with Urban, is rumored to have a distant relationship with her children with Cruise due to their affiliation with Scientology. Cruise, pictured above with Connor in 2009, also has a biological daughter, Suri, with Holmes.
Madonna is not just a woman of many talents, but a woman of many children. The multifaceted entertainer has six children: Lourdes, Rocco, David, Mercy James, and twins Esterre and Stella. Lourdes is Madonna’s biological daughter with her ex Carlos Leon; Rocco is her biological son with then-husband Guy Ritchie; the former couple adopted David together; Madonna adopted Mercy James and the twins on her own. After adopting David from Malawi, Madonna founded Raising Malawi, a charitable organization to help with the poverty the country’s orphans face. The above photo, which she posted to her Instagram on her 59th birthday last year, is the first photo of the whole family together.
Cate Blanchett has four children with her husband of a decade, Andrew Upton. Blanchett says she and Upton had been planning to adopt all along, even before the birth of the first of their three sons 14 years ago: Dashiell (pictured above in 2005), Roman, and Ignatius. The couple welcomed their adopted daughter Edith into the family in 2015. Edith was adopted from the U.S., and Blanchett, a native of Australia, has since made negative comments on the adoption laws in her home country. All four of the couple’s children have Upton’s last name.
Ewan McGregor was married to Eve Mavrakis for 22 years — a pretty stunning feat for a Hollywood star, even though it did recently end in divorce. During their time together, the couple had two biological children, Clara and Esther, and adopted two children, Jamiyan and Anouk. Clara, the eldest of the former couple’s four daughters, posted the above throwback photo with her parents on Instagram on her birthday this February, mere weeks after McGregor filed for divorce, with a caption in French that translates to “twenty two and nostalgic.” McGregor is known for being private when it comes to his family, even filing and winning a privacy lawsuit in 2002 when paparazzi photos of Clara and Esther were published without his consent.
Diane Keaton followed a nontraditional path to motherhood in that she didn’t become a mother until the age of 50. The actress’s father’s death in 1990 made her consider the brevity of life and, wanting to live without regrets, she adopted her daughter Dexter in 1996, followed by her son Duke in 2001. The now 72-year-old Keaton admits to having worries that she adopted her children too late as they’ll be left without a mother or a father once she passes. However, she has also said that parenthood made her become her best self.
Like her beloved character Maria in Sound of Music, Julie Andrews became a mother to the children from her husband’s previous marriage. Unlike her character, there weren’t seven of them. In addition to Jennifer and Geoffrey, the children of Andrews’s second husband, Andrews also had a biological daughter, Emma, from her first marriage (pictured above in 2009), and she and her second husband adopted two more, Amy and Joanna. The two girls were adopted from an orphanage in Vietnam as U.S. troops were leaving after the end of the war. Andrews has said her children always come first, and being a biological mother, stepmother, and adoptive mother was a “hodge-podge.”
Katherine Heigl and Josh Kelley
Katherine Heigl didn’t get knocked up by accident like her character Alison Scott; the actress and her musician husband of a decade Josh Kelley have three children, two adopted daughters and one biological son. Heigl, whose older sister was adopted before she was born, always knew she wanted to adopt a child from South Korea, too, which is where the couple adopted Naleigh (pictured above in 2016 when Heigl was pregnant with Joshua Jr.); Adelaide was adopted from the U.S. Heigl said the negative effect of the postpartum hormones made her prefer the process of adoption over that of giving birth.
Lionel Richie’s adopted daughter is almost as famous as he is — or more famous, depending on who you talk to. The musician and his then-wife informally took in the 2-year-old Nicole Richie, the daughter of one of his band members, in 1983 but it wasn’t until she was 9 that they officially adopted her. Richie also has a son, Miles, and daughter, Sofia, with his second wife. His daughters, pictured with him above in 2008, have a flair for the spotlight, too; Nicole is known for her reality TV career (or her tenure as the best friend of fellow party girl Paris Hilton) and Sofia is a model.
Kristin Davis and her iconic role of Charlotte York in Sex and the City don’t have that much in common. Davis doesn’t live in New York, let alone on Park Avenue, and she hasn’t been married once, let alone twice, but they are both adoptive mothers. Davis adopted her daughter Gemma in 2011, and since President Trump has been in office, has spoken out about the difficulties of interracial adoption and the fears she has raising a black daughter with such tense race relations.
Although Sheryl Crow was often featured in the media for her high profile relationships with fellow celebrities Owen Wilson and Lance Armstrong, her most serious relationships are with her sons. The single mother adopted Wyatt, pictured above in 2011, at a mere two weeks old in 2007; Levi was two months old when the singer adopted him in 2010. Crow said she reevaluated her life after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, and one of the things she realized she wanted to focus on was family. She has been in remission for more than 11 years.
Viola Davis, who is a stepmother to her husband’s daughter and son from his previous marriage, wanted to adopt long before the opportunity presented itself. The couple’s daughter Genesis came into their lives when her biological mother tested positive for drugs and Davis learned the baby would go into foster care. Davis says that she tells her daughter, pictured above in January of last year, that she was born from her heart, not her belly. Davis has already said she imagines setting Genesis up with Sandra Bullock’s son Louis one day.
Ty Burrell is known for his role as dad Phil Dunphy on Modern Family, and he’s the dad of his own modern family. Made up of his wife of almost two decades Holly and their two adopted daughters, Frances, who they adopted in 2010, and Greta, adopted in 2012, the whole fam is pretty dang cute. Burrell has said that if his loving but clueless father character on the show can raise children, he can too, though he hopes to not be quite as clueless as Phil, who is known for embarrassing his three children with his attempts to be cool.
Meg Ryan became a biological mother in 1992 when she and her ex-husband Dennis Quaid had a son named Jack. Fun fact: Jack Quaid played Marvel, a Career tribute from District 1, in The Hunger Games. Later, she became an adoptive mother in 2006 when she adopted her daughter Daisy, pictured above in 2015, from China. Ryan felt like there was nothing random about her being assigned Daisy (whom she originally named Charlotte) in the country’s lottery adoption system, saying that she is the daughter the actress was meant to have.
Born Constance Womack, Connie Britton uses her nickname and her married name, although she and her husband got divorced the year she started appearing in movies and TV shows. The actress adopted her son Yoby, pictured above shortly after his adoption, in 2011. Britton waited three whole years for the good news that she was receiving a child. She was inspired to adopt after her father passed away in 2008 and she realized she didn’t want to wait any longer to become a mother. Britton is also a pet mother to two rescue dogs.
Mariska Hargitay and Peter Hermann
Mariska Hargitay isn’t just a badass champion for children as Detective Olivia Benson in Law & Order: SVU, she’s also one IRL. Hargitay and her husband and fellow Law & Order: SVU cast member Peter Hermann had a biological son, August, in 2006, and adopted two children in 2011. Hargitay had long wanted to adopt, as her own biological mother was killed in a car accident when she was just a toddler and her father’s third wife took her and her brothers in as her own. Hargitay and Hermann met their daughter’s birth mother prior to the adoption, and Hargitay actually helped deliver Amaya, pictured above in 2013. Just a few months later, the couple also jumped at the chance to adopt their son, Andrew.
Hugh Jackman and his wife of 22 years Deborra-Lee Furness have adopted two children, Oscar and Ava, pictured above in 2011. Jackman and Furness were always planning to adopt after having a child or two biologically, but after struggling through IVF and two miscarriages, they moved forward with adoption. The couple, both Australia natives, are prominent advocates for more local adoptions in their home country; Furness founded Adopt Change in 2008, a nonprofit organization to raise awareness and create change around adoption in Australia.
Emma Thompson and Greg Wise
Emma Thompson and Greg Wise have two children, biological daughter Gaia and adopted son Tindyebwa, pictured above in 2014. Thompson and Wise conceived Gaia through IVF in 1999, four years after Thompson’s first marriage ended, though they didn’t tie the knot until 2003. After going through the rough process of IVF, the couple knew they wanted to adopt. They met their son the same year they got married, at the age of 16 at Refugee Council event. The teenager, a former child soldier in Rwanda, started spending time with the family informally more and more, and they officially adopted him.
Jamie Lee Curtis
Jamie Lee Curtis and her husband of 34 years Christopher Haden-Guest have two adopted children, Annie, pictured above in 2010, and Thomas. In 2000, Curtis and illustrator Laura Cornell published Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born, a children’s picture book telling the story of parents adopting a child. In addition to being an adoptive mother of two, Curtis, who is close friends with his parents, is also the godmother of actor Jake Gyllenhaal.
Kirstie Alley and her second husband adopted two children in the early ‘90s, William and Lillie, pictured above in 2005. The couple, who divorced in 1997, decided to become adoptive parents after struggling with infertility and a miscarriage in 1990. Alley, who is now a grandmother to her son’s son, has said that her best quality is that she is a good mother. Alley and her children are Scientologists; Alley said William and Lillie joined by choice in 2015, the year after Lillie’s fiance was tragically killed in a motorcycle crash.