Entertainment | Celebrity

Celebrity adoptions: Love sees no colour

Why race and nationality didn’t mean anything to these stars when it came to creating their beautiful and diverse families…

  • By Gemma White, Editor, Scene magazine
  • Published: 22:07 July 31, 2012
  • Scene

Angelina Jolie
  • Image Credit: AP
  • Angelina Jolie
    It's been done before (see Mia Farrow) but rarely with such style and glamour. While Angelina Jolie hasn't actually adopted THAT many children (three at last count, on par with Sharon Stone) it's the "rainbow nation" style in which she's building her family that's unique. She started off adopting Maddox in Cambodia during the dying days of her marriage to Billy Bob Thornton (the absence of the actor's name on the adoption certificate was seen by many as a clear indicator that the union was finished). Since then, she's also adopted Pax (from Vietnam), Zahara (from Ethiopia) and if rumours are to be believed, is looking at adopting from countries as diverse as the former Yugoslavia and Syria, although she firmly denied that a recent visit to earthquake-devastated Haiti was for the purpose of adoption.
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The likes of Angelina Jolie, Sandra Bullock and Charlize Theron are becoming the public faces of interracial adoption, with Ange saying of her brood, “There’s something about making a choice, waking up and travelling somewhere and finding your family,” but instances of celebrities adopting outside of their ethnicity, culture and nationality have been around for decades.

Legendary 1920s performer Josephine Baker adopted 12 children throughout her life, all from different backgrounds – who she called her “rainbow tribe” – in a bid to prove that “children of different ethnicities and religions could still be brothers.”

And whilst plenty is known about Tom Cruise’s and Madonna’s adoptions outside of their race, Steven Spielberg, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ewan McGregor and Mary Louise Parker also have children from different ethnicities. reveals why love sees no colour when it comes to creating happy Hollywood families…

“We fell in love with the child… not the skin colour.”

Sandra Bullock welcomed her adorable son, Louis, now two, just as other aspects of her life were falling apart, with her now ex-husband Jesse James’s public
admission of infidelity, and she says of her New Orleansborn son, “He’s just perfect, I can’t describe him in any other way.”

And it’s clear that her Oscar-winning role in The Blind Side, in which a white family welcomes an African-American football-star-in-the-making into their
home inspired the star, who said in her Academy Award acceptance speech, “moms… take care of the babies and children, no matter where they come from.”

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And it’s an outlook mirrored by Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg, who is a father of seven, including two adopted African-American children, son
Theo, 24, and daughter Mikaela George, 16. “We fell in love with the child. We didn’t fall in love with the director. “All of our kids are colour-blind. I say if you want to eliminate [racism] as a social issue, just if every family in America would adopt one minority child, you would just eradicate all of those racial-issue hatred issues.”

Katherine Heigl, whose adopted daughter, Naleigh, three, comes from South Korea, where Heigl’s own adopted sister. Meg. was born, has also revealed that welcoming a child of a different race into her family was always on the cards, spilling, “Adoption has been a part of my life and a part of my family, so it was how I wanted to start.”

But the New Year’s Eve star also admits that adoption has its problems, revealing, “People are always talking about the strong bond between mother and daughter, this magical connection – but we didn’t have that. Her rejection almost broke my heart.”

The silent types

But for every Katherine Heigl who has spoken openly about interracial adoption, there are many Hollywood families who have flown under the radar when it comes to their own adoptions.

Scottish actor Ewan McGregor who, along with his French wife, former make-up artist Eve Mavrakis, are now the proud parents of four girls – two of whom are adopted.

They welcomed Mongolian-born Jamiyan into their family when the 11-year-old was
four, and the pair also adopted another daughter, Anouk – born in January 2011
– with the little girl believed to have been adopted from abroad.

“My wife and four girls – 15, two nine-year-olds and a baby of four months – often come with me if it’s a holiday or my locations and their schedules
allow,” he says of the tight-knit family.

“Sometimes we uproot them and put them in another school.” And Michelle Pfeiffer has kept African-American daughter Claudia Rose, who she adopted along with husband David Kelley back in 1993, out of the spotlight until recently, with the 18-year-old joining her mother at the red carpet premiere of Dark Shadows.

“People make a lot of jokes about the empty nest. Let me tell you, it is no laughing matter,” said the 54-year-old. “It is really hard. Claudia’s in her first year of college. She’s doing great.”

Calling her own 2007 adoption of Ethiopian daughter Caroline “an amazing thing”, Weeds actress Mary Louise Parker welcomed the little girl into her singleparent
family after a visit to Africa, revealing that she felt compelled to adopt “after having been to a Third World country and having seen the desperation, and the need and all the children. Plus holding those children and seeing them and touching them.” Adding, “I can’t adopt 500 children, but I did adopt this one beautiful little girl.”

Influencing other stars

Grammy winner Alicia Keys admits to having been influenced by Angelina Jolie when it comes to thoughts of expanding her family. “Adoption is something that is important to consider. That’s what I really admire about Angelina. I think it’s beautiful the way she embraces children of the world,” said the mum to biological son Egypt.

“We are all one. We’re not as separate as we think.” And although stars have been adopting children of different races and backgrounds for years, with African-Americans Lionel Richie and his then-wife Brenda adopting white-Latina Nicole Richie in 1990 when she was nine, it was Angelina Jolie’s declaration that she wanted “to create a rainbow family” that brought interracial adoption more into the public eye.

Hugh Jackman has admitted that the race of his two adopted children, Oscar and Ava, was a “deliberate” decision, after he and his wife Debora discovered that agencies struggled to place mixed-race children with adoptive families.

“When we went to talk to someone in Los Angeles about adoption, I remember they said, ‘What do you want?’” I said, ‘Well, healthy would be good,’” recalls the X-Men star. “[The official] said, ‘Now, listen. Please don’t, please don’t just tick [the mixed-race box] because you think it’s the right thing to tick.’ And he said to me, ‘We turn away children every month who are mixed race, because we can’t find families for them’.”

Adding, “It was like, where’s the need? The need was obviously mixed-race children. And that was it.”

But welcoming a child from a different nation into a family isn’t just confined to babies, with British Love Actually actress Emma Thompson adopting Rwandan refugee and former child-soldier Tindyebwa Agaba when he was in his late teens.

“He didn’t have much English, but we just got talking,” said the actress of meeting ‘Tindy’ when he was 16. “He’s such a lovely, enchanting boy, so I said, ‘Come and spend Christmas with us’. And he came for half the day. Slowly he became a permanent fixture, went on holidays with us and became part of the family.”

More colour-blind stars we love

Mariska Hargitay

The Law & Order: SVU actress is mum to adopted African-American daughter Amaya Josephine, saying. “We talked a lot about mixed race adoptions, and we are very excited that we are now a multiracial family.”

Jillian Michaels

The Biggest Loser trainer brought home daughter Lukensia, two, from Haiti after a lengthy adoption process, revealing, “You just know in the deepest part of  your being that you are meant to find this little soul and guide them through life.”

Kristin Davis

The SATC star adopted African-American baby girl, Gemma Rose, in October last year, gushing of her arrival, “I was nervous about whether it would work out. Then, when Gemma came to my house, she was so tiny and precious. It is an  amazing thing to be responsible for a tiny baby.”

Joely Fisher

The Ellen and Desperate Housewives actress adopted daughter Olivia from Africa,  saying of her child’s race, “I had no preference; I felt we belonged together."

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