Adoption can transform people’s lives during moments of difficulty and bring people together in unexpected ways through life’s twists and turns.
Many celebrities have come forward with their adoption stories as adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive families, showing that adoption touches the lives of people from all walks of life. These three celebrity adoption stories come from celebrities who are open about their adoptions and have spoken about how adoption has transformed their lives.
1. Joni Mitchell’s Story of Placing Her Baby for Adoption
Joni Mitchell was young when she found out she was pregnant. It was 1964, and she was a visual arts student, making ends meet with her second job as a folk singer on the weekends.
It was her pregnancy that she credits with changing her career path from visual arts to music, as she left school to hide her pregnancy.
While some have reported that Mitchell chose adoption to further her career, she said in an interview with CBC that those reports are false. Like many birth parents, when she became pregnant, she wasn’t in a place to raise a baby.
Money was already tight when she was in school, but when she left school due to her pregnancy, things got harder. She was trying to put together a situation where she could raise her new baby but found herself destitute.
She placed her child, Kelly, in foster care, hoping the placement would be temporary as she secured what she needed to raise the baby. As she worked on her situation, predatory characters came out of the woodwork and tried to take advantage of her situation. Still, she persisted, taking on singing gigs and continuing working.
However, she wasn’t able to secure a stable environment to raise her daughter and didn’t want to take support from her parents — she made the difficult decision to place her daughter for adoption.
As she continued with music, she became famous as a songwriter.
For many years, Mitchell kept her pregnancy and daughter a secret, although lyrics in her song Little Green show her thoughts about her child.
Meanwhile, Mitchell’s daughter (given the name Kilauren by her adoptive parents) was raised as part of a happy family with a brother, who was also adopted. When Kilauren reached the age of 27 and was pregnant, her adoptive parents revealed that she had been adopted.
After five years of searching, Kilauren was able to find her mother, Joni Mitchell, and the two began building a relationship.
While Kilauren’s parents were initially concerned they would lose the daughter they raised (this is a common fear among adoptive parents), Mitchell assured them that there wouldn’t be any big changes, they wouldn’t lose their daughter, and ultimately found positivity in the reunion.
How Birth Mother Relationships Have Changed
When Joni Mitchell placed her daughter for adoption, it was common to hide adoptions – from parents, peers, and adoptive children. Joni said in an interview with CBC that she left art school and hid her pregnancy to protect her parents, which was common at the time. But now, closed adoptions, where children are adopted anonymously or with little information, are relatively rare.
There are many reasons for this, but one of the primary reasons is that the stigma around placing a child for adoption has dwindled. Now it is much more common for adoptive parents to celebrate birth parents for making their brave decision to place their child for adoption and have an open adoption.
Open adoptions allow birth parents and adoptive parents to continue contact and share their child’s adoption story as a positive part of the child’s life. This can help children form a healthy sense of identity and gives birth parents a sense of peace to know that their child is part of a safe and loving family.
And as was the case with Joni Mitchell, many adoptive families are happy to learn that they can have a positive relationship with their child’s birth parents.
2. Sandra Bullock’s Journey to Adopt
Sandra Bullock knew from a young age that she wanted to have children. She began a career in the movie industry when she was young and became one of the big names in Hollywood, starring in over 40 films.
After spending many years in the spotlight, in love with her career, Sandra Bullock felt pulled to adoption.
For some time, she considered whether her time to have children had passed, but when she learned about the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, she felt that her child was there and was moved to start the adoption process.
Her children have become her first priority, and she has become a vocal advocate for adoption, telling her story of the adoption process and telling other women that there is no limit to becoming a parent. She also inspired Today host Hoda Kotb to adopt her daughter, Haley.
No matter what form of adoption you choose, as Sandra Bullock said, “there are hundreds of thousands of children waiting.”
Adoption Comes in Many forms, but the Love is the Same
Like many parents whose path leads to adoption, Sandra Bullock has said she felt a sense of calling to become a parent. She has also been open about some of the complexities and misconceptions that can come with adoption.
Her love for her children is obvious, and she is adamant that people not refer to her children as “adopted children” but simply her children, showing that she sees adoption as simply another way to gain family.
She also has spoken out against the stigma against transracial adoption. Both of her children are black, and people have wrongly assumed that she may not love her children as much as if they shared skin tones. She said that she hopes someday people will be able to “see with different eyes” and recognize she loves her children as much as any other mother.
Bullock’s story also shows us that both adoption through foster care and infant adoption can be a great way to grow your family. She points out that there were hurdles with both—she had to have a home study, which includes an in-person interview as well as written letters of recommendation from people you know. And she pointed out that foster care had more steps to navigate.
But, just like any other adoptive family, she obviously loves her children and is happy that she was able to grow her family. You can read stories of adoptive families who share her sentiments here.
3. Faith Hill’s Journey to Meet her Birth Mother
Faith Hill grew up with the knowledge that she was adopted and has always been open about it. She had a good childhood and loves her parents – she has called them “the salt of the earth.” But she had a closed adoption and always wondered about the family she hadn’t met—her birth family.
As an adult, she sought out her birth family and was able to meet her mother and brother after three years of searching. While meeting her birth mother answered some questions for her, she also learned that some of the story she had been told about her adoption was not true.
When she met her birth mother, she saw the similarities between them, and some of the questions she had about her life were answered, but even afterward, she needed time to process the knowledge she gained.
Faith Hill shared that she found fulfillment in seeing there was someone out there who looked like her and understanding where some of her unique personality traits came from.
Birth Parent Connections Last a Lifetime and Can Affect Feelings of Identity
As in Faith Hill’s story, if you choose to place your child for adoption, there will always be a link between you, and adoptive children will almost always have questions— some of which may be questions only you can answer. For these reasons and more, most modern adoptions are open.
As you can see from her adoption story and Joni Mitchell’s, whether you have an open adoption or closed adoption, your relationship with your child who was placed for adoption may vary over time.
In some cases, birth parents and their children visit or become familiar with each other as the child grows older, while in other cases, there may be space between you or stretches where communication is brief. Every journey and situation is unique, but the connection will always be there, and an adoptive child’s identity can be greatly affected by their knowledge of their birth story.
Birth mothers at American Adoptions can choose the type of adoption they prefer, and we fully support open adoptions that allow children to learn the story of their birth parents and adoption and keep contact in the way that is best for them the child.