Each Olympics, we marvel at the world’s best athletes and fall in love with their stories. Just as in any other corner of the world, many of these athletes have an adoption connection! Read on to learn about Olympians whose lives have been touched by adoption!
Jamie Baulch- British athlete Baulch, who won the silver medal in the 400-meter dash at the 1996 Olympic Games, was raised and adopted by foster parents in Wales.
Larry Bird- Bird and his teammates won the gold in basketball at the 1992 Olympics as part of the “Dream Team.” Bird has adopted two children, Connor and Mariah.
Surya Bonaly- French figure skater Bonaly was adopted as an infant. She represented France in the 1992 and 1998 Winter Olympic Games.
Peter and Kitty Carruthers- Peter and Kitty were adopted as young children. During their figure skating career, the siblings competed as a pair, representing the U.S. at the 1980 and 1984 Winter Olympics; they won a silver medal in 1984. Kitty has gone on to adopt two sons of her own.
Toby Dawson- Mogul skier Dawson was adopted from South Korea as a child. He took the bronze at the 2006 Winter Olympics and used the publicity to help him find his birth parents in Korea. Dawson is an adoption advocate, volunteers at the Korean Heritage Camp for Adoptive Families and is very proud of his cultural heritage.
Adrian Dodson- British Olympic boxer Dodson was born in Guyana and adopted by a British family. He represented Guyana in the 1988 Olympics (under a different name) and then represented Great Britain in the 1992 Olympics.
Ashia Hansen- Hansen born in U.S. and adopted by a British couple. She has represented Britain in the triple jump in 2000 but did not medal. Due to an injury, Hansen did not return to the 2004 Olympics.
Scott Hamilton- American figure skater Hamilton was adopted as an infant. He represented the U.S. at the 1980 Winter Olympic Games and took the gold at the 1984 Olympic games. He was the first American male to medal in figure skating since 1960!
Reese Hoffa- Shot putter Hoffa has represented the U.S. in three Olympics: 2004, 2008 and now 2012. He won the bronze medal this week, making his two moms proud! Hoffa’s A-Mom, as he calls his adoptive mother, was in London, while his B-Mom, or birth mother, watched from the U.S. “I started life as this kid from a mom who wanted to give her kid a good life, to being the son of two moms now and getting a medal. It’s pretty awesome,” Hoffa told NJ.com. Read the rest of the article here to learn more about his adoption story!
Magic Johnson- Basketball player Johnson represented the U.S. at the 1992 Olympics as part of the gold medal-winning “Dream Team.” Johnson has several children, including an adopted daughter.
Lopez Lomong- Lomong grew up in Sudan and was one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. He came to the United States where he lived with foster parents. Lomong became a U.S. citizen in 2007 and represented the U.S. at the 2008 Olympics. Although he did not make it past the semifinals in his event, Lomong was asked to carry the U.S. flag at the Opening Ceremonies in 2008.
Jessica Long- Paralympic swimmer Long was adopted at 13 from Russia. Due to the condition fibular hemimelia, her legs were amputated before she was two years old. But Long has never let that keep her from athletics and has been involved in many sports. She will best be remembered for her swimming at the Paralympic Games, which follow the Olympic games every four years without much of the fanfare. Long brought home three gold medals from Athens in 2004 and four golds, a silver and a bronze in Beijing in 2008. The 2012 Paralympics Games begin on Wednesday, August 29th, so be sure to keep an eye out for Jessica!
Greg Louganis- Diver Louganis was adopted as an infant. He represented the U.S. in diving in 1976 and won a silver medal for springboard diving. In 1984, he won the gold medal for platform and springboard diving before doing the same and earning a “double-double” in 1988. Today, Louganis is still one of the most celebrated divers in history. “Mom said that what really cinched the deal was my smile. Once she saw that, she didn’t want to look at any other babies,” he says of his adoption.
Paige McPherson- Olympic taekwondo star McPherson is one of five adopted children. At 21, she’s the youngest member of 2012’s Olympic taekwondo team. Read her interview about her adoption and family in USA Today. McPherson lost in the quarterfinal at this year’s Olympics but not before beating Brit Sarah Stevenson, who medaled in Beijing.
Dominique Moceanu- Gymnast Moceanu wowed us at the 1996 Olympics, but it wasn’t until she was in her 20s that she learned that her parents placed a younger sister for adoption when she was six years old. Watch their amazing story! Just like Steve Jobs and his biological sister Mona Simpson, Dominique and her sister Jennifer show that they are a mixture of nature and nurture.
Alonzo Mourning- Mourning won gold with the U.S. team at the 2000 Olympic Games. He spent time in foster care from the ages of 13 to 18 and credits his foster mother with helping him become the man he is today.
Dan O’Brien- Olympic decathlon competitor O’Brien was adopted as a child. He won gold in the decathlon at the 1996 Olympic games.
Aaron Parchem- Figure skater Parchem was adopted domestically as an infant. He represented the U.S. in mixed pair figure skating at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games.
George Scott- Scott was born in Liberia and adopted by a Swedish couple. He represented Sweden in boxing in the 1988 Olympics where he took the silver medal.
Fatima Whitbread- British javelin thrower Whitbread spent several years going back and forth between foster care and her birth family before being adopted by her javelin coach at 14 years old. Whitbread won the bronze at the 1984 Olympics and took silver in 1988.
Hayley Wickenheiser- Canadian ice hockey and softball player Wickenheiser has represented her country in five Olympics. She represented Canada in softball at the 200o Summer Olympics. But Wickenheiser will be most remembered for her silver medal (1998) and three gold medals (2002, 2006 and 2010) as an ice hockey player. Wickenheiser is also an adoptive mother.
Natalie Williams- Women’s basketball player Williams won a gold medal at the 2000 Olympics. She adopted twins just a year later in 2001!
Sometimes young Olympians experience a different kind of adoption. This year’s Olympic star Gabby Douglas is a great example. She moved from her home in Virginia to Iowa to train for the Olympics with the coach of her dreams. During her training, Douglas lived with a host family in West Des Moines. Her mother Natalie Hawkins said that she and host mother Missy Parton shared parental duties as best they could so that they could support Gabby during her training. Watch the touching story below!
Last But Not Least, A Future Olympian?
Jordan Windle- Windle was adopted from Cambodia at the age of two. He was the youngest athlete to ever qualify for the Olympic Diving Trials this year at the age of 12, and although he was not a member of the U.S. Diving team at this Olympics, he’s got his eyes on Rio de Janeiro in 2016! Visit Windle’s site to learn more about this amazing kid!
Do you know of any other Olympic athletes who have been touched by adoption?