Black celebrities you probably didn’t know were adopted

Mildred Europa Taylor November 12, 2021
Colin Kaepernick. Image via Netflix

In his new book “Act Like You Got Some Sense: And Other Things My Daughters Taught Me”, Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx shares how he was adopted at seven months old by the same couple who took in her mother when she was a child. Born Eric Marlon Bishop, the “Django Unchained” actor did not have a lot of contact with his birth parents growing up but reconnected with them as an adult.

Four years ago while hosting the show “Beat Shazam”, the actor got emotional when talking with some contestants about his adoption story. Many popular people have over the years spoken about being adopted, either being taken in by adoptive parents as children or brought home at birth.

November each year is National Adoption Month, and per the last U.S. Census, one in 25 American families with children has an adopted child. While many celebrities in America and elsewhere adopt children from all over the world, many of them were once adopted themselves.

Besides Foxx, here are Black celebrities you probably didn’t know were adopted.

Colin Kaepernick is joining Medium's board of directors and will write  stories about racial justice

Colin Kaepernick

The NFL quarterback who knelt for the national anthem as a protest against social injustice was born to Heidi Russo in 1987 but was adopted by Rick and Teresa Kaepernick when he was only five weeks old. His mom, who was then 19, had decided to give him up. The Kaepernicks, who are White, had at the time also wanted to adopt after losing two biological children at birth due to congenital heart defects.

They called biracial baby Colin their “perfect child”.

“I never felt that I was supposed to be white. Or black, either. My parents just wanted to let me be who I needed to be,” Colin told in September 2015.

Eartha Kitt's life was scarred by her failure to learn the identity of her  white father, says daughter | Music | The Guardian
Eartha Kitt in a TV series in 1975 during her stay in Britain. Photograph: ITV/REX

Eartha Kitt

Singer, actress and dancer Eartha Kitt passed away without knowing her birth father’s identity. She was born on a South Carolina plantation to Anna Mae Keith, a 16-year-old Black woman who Kitt believed was sexually abused by a plantation owner’s White son.

Kitt’s mother abandoned her at an early age when she found a new man who made it clear that light-skinned Kitt was not welcomed. Kitt was left in the care of relatives and was often discriminated against by both Black and White people for being of mixed race. She later went to live with an aunt in New York at the age of eight.

Nelson Mandela, rights activist, dies

Nelson Mandela

South Africa’s first Black president and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela was born in 1918. At the age of nine, his father died of lung disease. Mandela was then adopted by a chief named Jongintaba Dalindyebo of the Thembu people. This was done as a favor to Mandela’s father, who had years earlier recommended Jongintaba be made chief. Mandela’s name is today synonymous with the anti-apartheid struggle and invariably evokes memories of one man’s fight to positively change his immediate society and the world at large.

Keegan-Michael Key speaks during the CNN special "Class of 2020: In This  Together" - CNN
Actor Keegan-Michael Key addressed 2020 graduates during the CNN special “Class of 2020: In This Together.” Photo: CNN

Keegan-Michael Key

Actor, comedian, producer and writer Keegan-Michael Key is the son of African-American father Leroy McDuffie, and Carrie Herr, a Caucasian of Polish and Belgian Flemish descent. Born in 1971, he was adopted at a young age by a couple from Detroit, Michael Key and Patricia Walsh, who were social workers. But the couple soon divorced, and Key’s adopted father then re-married. Key was close with his stepmom and reunited with his biological mother when he was 25.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: November 13, 2021


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