Celebs Who Failed Their Adopted Children

Adopting a child is a deeply personal, and at times, painstaking process for both the adoptive parents and the adoptees. Adding in the element of the tabloid spotlight when a celebrity goes through the process can make the whole thing even more stressful. Lots of stars, like Hugh Jackman, Charlize Theron, and Sandra Bullock, successfully navigated these choppy waters and have remained, by all accounts, wonderful parents. Others haven't fared so well. Here are the celebrities who seriously dropped the ball on being adoptive parents.

Paula Poundstone

You may know Paula Poundstone as one of the breakout stars of the 90s stand up comedy scene, or currently as a panelist on NPR's weekend news quiz show, Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me. After building a career on her signature suit-and-tie look and clean comedy routines, she did a stint as a correspondent for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and had a short-lived variety show on ABC that was cancelled after two episodes.

Privately, Poundstone was a foster mother to eight children, three of whom she eventually adopted, which is why her arrest in 2001 on charges of "lewd acts upon a child and child endangerment" was such a shock. According to The LA Times, "prosecutors alleged that she committed a lewd act on a girl under 14, and that she endangered the four other children — two girls and two boys." The endangerment of the four children stems from an incident in which Poundstone had been driving with them while intoxicated, according to The New York Times. The lewd act charge was dropped in exchange for Poundstone entering a plea deal in which she plead no contest "to one count of felony child abuse and a misdemeanor charge of inflicting injury upon a child."

After the arrest and her entry into a rehab facility, her foster children were permanently removed from her care, and her three adopted children were placed into temporary foster care. The details of the charges are sealed, though the felony complaint for her arrest warrant has language that alleges inappropriate touching of an underage child. During an interview with Larry King, Poundstone denied any molestation occurred and that those charges were dropped, because the prosecution couldn't prove them. After a year and a half, during which time Poundstone sought psychiatric counseling and treatment for alcohol addiction, her adoptive children were returned.

Woody Allen and Mia Farrow

If you thought Paula Poundstone seemed like a tireless advocate for adoption, go ahead and compare her efforts to Mia Farrow, who has adopted 10 children in addition to her four biological children. Have a seat, Mrs. Brady, right? With a brood that large, things are bound to get complicated, and in the case of Mia and Woody, complicated is just the tip of the iceberg.

In the unlikely event that you haven't heard about how Woody Allen and Mia Farrow's relationship broke up, in part, over his affair with Mia's adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn, welcome to Earth. Weird stuff like this happens here. And as if a scandal involving an affair with your girlfriend's adopted daughter wasn't enough, the Allen-Previn clan was only just starting their reign in tabloid headlines.

In 2014, Mia and Woody's adopted daughter, Dylan, accused him of molesting her when she was seven years old. What followed was a nasty media campaign that played out via open letters to one another, like this one and this one, which created a splintering of an already fragmented family as the siblings choose either Team Dylan/Mia or Team Woody. Ronan Farrow, Mia and Woody's only biological son, came out strongly in defense of his mom and sis, while Moses, Mia and Woody's adopted son, insisted that no molestation ever occurred. While prosecutors decided not to bring charges against Woody, the ugliness of the accusation even spread across Hollywood, with actors who've worked with Woody being pulled into the fray by being asked to comment on the situation.

Regardless of what actually happened, it's clear that this complex family tree has splintered in many ways, and neither Woody nor Mia seemed particularly interested in trying to keep the whole thing from playing out in the public eye.

Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman

It would be easy to just toss out the word "Scientology" as the catch-all explanation for what went wrong with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman's relationship with their adopted kids, Connor and Isabella, but that would be an oversimplification. Though Nicole made it a point to never smear the church, it was clear she wasn't a follower, which given Tom's devotion was surely a huge roadblock for the couple.

After their divorce, Nicole buried herself in work, which resulted in her distancing herself from the kids. At the 'Women in The World Conference' (via The Telegraph), Kidman said, "Out of my divorce came work that was applauded so that was an interesting thing for me. That culminated in winning an Oscar and that caused an epiphany which was, 'This isn't the answer.' I was holding a gold statue and I was the loneliest I'd ever been." She won the Oscar in 2003, then spent much of 2004 in Romania on the set of Cold Mountain, again away from Connor and Isabella, who were 9 and 12 at the time, according to The Daily Mail.

Tom didn't help matters, retreating behind the reclusive walls of his church and bringing the kids deeper into the fold. According to Leah Remini's expose (via Huffington Post) on the controversial church, Isabella once referred to Kidman as "a f**king SP," which stands for "suppressive person," whom church members are urged to disconnect from. Not only that, but former Scientology insiders claim to have wiretapped Nicole's phone at Tom's request in order to speed up the couple's split after it was determined that she wasn't going along with the program. While both kids have publicly made statements about having a positive relationship with their parents, they both still practice Scientology, meaning at some point they were forced to choose sides, which is a position no child should ever be put in.

Rosie O'Donnell

This one is tough, because it involves accusations made by Rosie O'Donnell's adopted daughter, Chelsea, who struggles with mental illness and has even been hospitalized for psychiatric evaluation. Chelsea has thrown a laundry list of complaints at Rosie, alleging everything from Rosie's habitual pot use, to her laziness, to her hands-off approach to parenting, telling The Daily Mail that she was "pretty much raised by nannies." She also claims that Rosie's public pleas for Chelsea's return after Chelsea allegedly ran away when she was 17 were complete bull, and that Rosie had actually kicked her out.

Rosie has been relatively tight-lipped and not exactly sensitive about the situation, tweeting things like "No mom is perfect. We all do our best," and once while addressing a crowd, saying "My teenagers are a nightmare, they're horrible." Not surprisingly, Chelsea chose to move back in with her birth mom soon after the whole "running away" debacle. Chelsea and Rosie have since been spotted together in public, a positive signal that maybe the healing has begun, but it's clear that both of them probably could have done things differently so this wouldn't have gotten so out of hand.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie

By all accounts, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were the shining example of celebrity adoptive parents. That is, until 2016 when not only did they announce their divorce, but that decision was apparently in part due to a very public scandal involving an allegedly drunk Brad Pitt on a plane getting into a physical fight with his son, Maddox. Speculation about the incident was all over the map. Some outlets reported a milder version of events, namely that Brad and Angelina allegedly had a fight, Maddox intervened, and Brad placed a hand on him. But other outlets characterized Pitt as allegedly blackout drunk, raging out of control, and at one point attempting to flee the airfield in a fuel truck.

Regardless of the specifics, the facts are that something happened, and it happened on plane and involved a child, so both the FBI and the LA Deptartment of Child and Family Services conducted investigations. Neither agency brought charges against Pitt, but as a result of the divorce and custody proceedings, he agreed to monitored and extremely limited visitation with the kids. According to TMZ, Brad is allegedly only seeing the kids once a week for 30-60 minutes at a time, so regardless of how everything plays out, the kids have now been deprived of time with their dad for going on four months at the time of this writing. Brad and Angelina may be the ones waging war, but the kids are the obvious losers in this crappy situation.

Joan Crawford

To hear the accounts of the Joan Crawford's parenting as told by her four adopted children is like hearing from kids who grew up in entirely different families. Eldest daughter, Christina, famously characterized her upbringing as nightmarish, describing in both her book and the film of the same name, Mommie Dearest, a terrifying scenario of emotional and physical abuse. Joan's son, Christopher, shared a similar experience with The LA Times, saying "I honestly to this day do not believe that she ever cared for me," as well as accusing Joan, whom he only refers to as "J.C.", of placing his hand into a fireplace until it blistered as a reprimand for playing with matches.

Though Mommie Dearest was published two years after Joan's death, she was aware that Christina was writing it, and what would be revealed, according to the biography Not the Girl Next Door Her (via Vanity Fair). This book sought the other side of the Mommie Dearest story by interviewing both Joan Crawford and her twin daughters Cindy and Cathy, who remain staunchly loyal to their adoptive mom. "We lived in the same house as Christina, but we didn't live in the same home, because she had her own reality. Cindy and I had a different reality—the opposite. I don't know where she got her ideas. Our Mommie was the best mother anyone ever had," Cathy told author Charlotte Chandler.

A known philanthropist and beloved Hollywood figure, Joan Crawford still has defenders who refuse to believe Christina or Matthew, so lingering doubt still hangs over the allegations. Though Joan received support from defenders long after her death in 1977, her will made it crystal clear that her eldest children were to receive nothing: "It is my intention to make no provision herein for my son Christopher or my daughter Christina for reasons which are well known to them." Ice. Cold. We would have left them each a wire hanger, or, you know, not been a parent from Hell in the first place.

Chris Rock

This one comes with a bit of an asterisk, because it doesn't technically involve a legal adoption, but it involves Chris Rock allegedly turning his back on what appears to be a child that he helped raise for seven years, so he gets lumped in with the rest of the crappy adoptive parents.

In 2008, Chris' wife, Malaak, somehow began a relationship with the South African parents of 6-month-old Ntombi. According to Ntombi's biological father, Crispen Khanyile, he and his girlfriend were financially unable to provide for Ntombi, so they arranged for her to go live with the Rock family in the U.S. on a "pleasure visa," according to TMZ. Ntombi lived with the family ever since, traveling with Malaak back to South Africa once a year to re-submit paperwork, allowing her to reenter the country on a new visa. Confused yet? It gets worse.

As of 2014, Chris and Malaak began divorce proceedings, upon which time Chris allegedly cut all ties with Ntombi, including financial support, because he allegedly believes "Malaak did something shady to get her here in the first place," again according to TMZ. Okay, we know that's a lot to absorb, but the fact is that Chris' divorce petition provides no stipulation for Ntombi, who he clearly supported as a member of his family all those years, whether she was legally adopted or not. Interestingly, at the time of this writing, Chris just signed a $40 million dollar deal with Netflix for what is essentially two hours of work, which kind of makes his alleged abandonment of Ntombi seem less like a money thing, and more like a personal attack aimed at hurting his wife. Gross. We thought you were one of the good guys, Chris!

Casey Johnson

Heiress to the Johnson & Johnson fortune, Casey Johnson, led a turbulent life from a very young age. Diagnosed with diabetes at just 8 years old, Casey also had behavioral issues throughout her adolescent life, according to excerpts of the biography, Crazy Rich: Power, Scandal, and Tragedy Inside the Johnson & Johnson Dynasty (via The New York Post). She also had borderline personality disorder, and became a wild-child, partying throughout her twenties in swanky Manhattan and L.A. digs before she decided — against protests from basically everyone including her own mother — to adopt a child.

Despite Casey's long history of drug and alcohol abuse, inability to get her mental health under control, and lack of ability to provide for herself when cut off from family funds, she was able to adopt a baby girl from Kazakhstan, whom she named Ava-Monroe. That was in 2007. By late 2009, Ava-Monroe was under the care of Casey's mother, Sale, because Casey had spiraled out of control partying, entering a bizarre and controversial relationship with reality star Tila Tequila, and neglecting her diabetes, which landed her in the hospital. Tragically, she never regained custody of Ava-Monroe, because Casey died of diabetes-related complications in her squalid Hollywood mansion. Ava-Monroe remains in the care of her wealthy grandmother, and she probably has a life of means that most of us can't imagine, but it's frightening to think about what that poor kid was exposed to in the first few years of her life.