Presidents Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford were both adopted by their stepfathers. Ford reunited later in life with his birth father but did not look on the relationship fondly, while Clinton’s birth father died when he was a baby. Both Clinton and Ford took the last names of their adoptive fathers as teens. Clinton has famously said, “We must work tirelessly to make sure that every boy and girl in America who is up for adoption has a family waiting to reach him or her. This is a season of miracles, and perhaps there is no greater miracle than finding a loving home for a child who needs one.”
President Ronald Reagan was also touched by adoption. He and his first wife Jane Wyman had two biological daughters and also adopted a son, Michael. Michael says, “My adoption was treated as a celebration.” Later, when President Reagan married again, he created another adoption connection through First Lady Nancy Davis Reagan. Nancy, who lived with her aunt and uncle as a child while her parents divorced and her mother pursued an acting career, was later adopted by her stepfather and took his last name Davis.
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was also adopted. She lost both of her parents before the age of ten was taken in by her grandmother and aunt.
Several presidential hopefuls also have had adoption connections. Senator John McCain adopted his first wife Carol Shepp’s two children from a former marriage and had a daughter of his own with her. With his second wife Cindy, he had another son and daughter before adopting a Bangladeshi orphan in 1991. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was born to a 16-year-old mother and 19-year-old father. His parents divorced, and he was later adopted by his stepfather and assumed his name.
Each November, the serving president issues a Presidential Proclamation naming November National Adoption Month and encouraging awareness and action. Click here to see President Barack Obama’s 2011 National Adoption Month proclamation.
To learn which other politicians have been touched by adoption, visit our Famous Adoptions page.