Celebs Who Were Abandoned By Family Members

These celebrities turned out rich, famous, successful, and generally adored—but their backgrounds were less than ideal. The following stars were all abandoned by family members, but managed to overcome the heartache and turn it all around.

Jamie Foxx

At just seven months old, Jamie Foxx (born Eric Marlon Bishop) was left in the care of his birth mother's foster parents. In 2014, the Academy Award-winning actor told The Sunday Times that he was trying to make amends with his estranged parents.

"We're trying to learn [about] each other," Foxx said of his relationship with his mom. "The one thing I think is great is she's in the same house, because you realize certain things that you missed when you were growing up, like, 'Oh, I do that because of that,' or 'Oh, I do this because of this.'"

Foxx admitted that his relationship with his father has been more difficult to forge. "Fingers crossed, it will become a real thing," he said. "But the door is open. That's one thing I've learned: always keep the door and your heart open... I don't hold grudges... [But] there are questions, like, 'What happened?' Where were you? Were you stricken with something? Could you not make it?' Growing up, I would always go, 'Man... I'm a good dude. I wasn't the kid getting in trouble. I was quarterback on the high school football team. And he only lived 28 miles away. So I always said to myself, 'You know, I'm gonna grade him a little harder for that, because he could have tried.'"

Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato was estranged from her father, Patrick, for most of her life. Her mother, Dianna De La Garza, revealed in Lovato's 2017 Simply Complicated documentary that Patrick was allegedly mentally ill and addicted to drugs and alcohol. Lovato's sister, Dallas, claimed Patrick "would rage and yell and throw things, and Demi saw that." One of Lovato's friends alleged, "He would tell them he had cancer when he didn't. Or he would tell them he's dying tomorrow, when he wasn't."

Patrick may have passed some of his challenges on to Lovato, who has also openly struggled with addiction. "My dad was an addict and an alcoholic, and I guess I always searched for what he found in drugs and alcohol because it fulfilled him and he chose that over a family," she said in her documentary.

The New York Daily News reported that Patrick passed away from cancer in 2013. Lovato paid tribute to him with her song "Father" off of her Confident album.

"I was very conflicted when he passed, because he was abusive," Lovato said in 2015. "He was mean, but he wanted to be a good person. And he wanted to have his family, and when my mom married my stepdad, he still had this huge heart where he said, 'I'm so glad that [he's] taking care of you and doing the job that I wish I could do.'"

Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber's father, Jeremy, reportedly abandoned him when he was a child but later returned to be a father figure again.

The pop star told Billboard, "He was immature. He left for like a year when I was about 4, went to British Columbia, came back on Father's Day... I remember my mom said, 'If you're going to be here, you have to be here.' There's a misconception that he's this deadbeat dad, but he has been in my life since. I was with him on weekends and Wednesdays."

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortenson in Los Angeles in 1926 to Gladys Pearl Baker; Monroe's father's identity has never been confirmed–her parents split before her birth. Baker initially attempted to care for Monroe but then gave her to foster parents Ida and Wayne Bolender. 

Baker later tried to parent Monroe again, this time with friend Grace Goddard, before sending Monroe to the Los Angeles Orphans Home. From there, Monroe went to live with Goddard, then with Goddard's aunt. Meanwhile, Baker was institutionalized for paranoid schizophrenia.

Though publicity materials from her heyday marketed Monroe as an orphan, The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe (via The Telegraph) claims the starlet took great pains to care for her mother throughout her life.  When Monroe died, she left her mother $5,000 a year from a $100,000 trust fund, according to The Hollywood Reporter.


Tyga chronicled his struggles with abandonment issues in his 2009 song "Dad's Letter." The lyrics include heartwrenching lines such as: "Kinda just wished you taught me how to be a man," "Growing up alls I wanted was a father figure / Me and mom alone every dinner," "One day, I hope you hear this / I hope you doing better," "Dreamed of meeting you Dad / Moms really getting mad when I call you that / I don't understand but your phone number is all I ask."

Kelly Clarkson

Kelly Clarkson's song "Piece by Piece" was inspired by the heartbreak she felt when her father allegedly walked out on her family when she was a child. Clarkson told a Scandinavian talk show (via Today) that she doesn't want sympathy from the public.

"I know a lot of people go, 'Aww,' but it's not really that situation," she said. "I think If you don't grow up with it, it's hard to miss something you never had... Even if it's not your father, whoever it is in your life, if someone presents such a cancerous environment and then just keeps hurting you, and even if they're doing it inadvertently and they just don't know better, you should just not have that person in your life. And it's OK. That's not a hateful situation. You go your own way." 

Clarkson said she reached out so many times to her father that it actually became "humiliating" when he kept rejecting her. "You're like, 'I shouldn't have to work this hard for someone's love. Like, that's a little ridiculous,'" she said. "And at that point, too, you grow up so much to where you go, 'OK, I don't even think you're capable [of love]."

Enrique Iglesias

Enrique Iglesias was born in Madrid, Spain, to crooner Julio Iglesias and Isabel Preysler. When he was a young child, his parents separated and his father moved to Miami.

At first Enrique lived with his mother and older siblings in Spain, but when his grandfather was kidnapped by the Basque terrorist group ETA, he was sent with his brother to live with his father in Miami. The plan was a solid one...until you consider his father's touring schedule. The move was intended to keep young Enrique away from terrorists, but it also inadvertently kept him away from his family. From the time he arrived in Miami, Enrique was effectively raised by his nanny. Later in life, when Enrique needed a loan to record a demo tape, it was not his father he went to for help, but his nanny, Elvira Olivares. He recorded that demo under the name Enrique Martínez.

Enrique and Julio's relationship is still complicated. Enrique told Billboard in 2014 that the only time they see one another is at special occasions like funerals, which can't be blamed solely on touring schedules. "Is that really an excuse? Let's be honest. All I know is that if my dad ever needed me, I would be there first thing," he said. "When I was a child growing up, if I ever needed my dad I knew he would be there for me. So as long as I have that for me, that's fine."


Adele thanked her manager in her 2017 Grammys acceptance speech, telling him, "I owe you everything. We've been together for 10 years, and I love you like you're my dad. I love you so, so much. I don't love my dad, that's the thing. That doesn't mean a lot. I love you like I would love my dad."

Adele's actual father, Mark Evans, admitted to The Sun in 2011 that he left Adele and her mother when the singer was 3 years old. "I was a rotten father at a time when she really needed me," Evans said. "I was putting away two litres of vodka and seven or eight pints of Stella every day. I drank like that for three years. God only knows how I survived it. I was deeply ashamed of what I'd become and I knew the kindest thing I could do for Adele was to make sure she never saw me in that state."

Adele may not necessarily love her biological father, but in 2015, she reportedly forgave him.

Steve Jobs

The late Steve Jobs was the biological son of Abdulfattah "John" Jandali, a Syrian Muslim, and Joanne Carole Schieble, who Jandali met while studying at the University of Wisconsin. Schieble reportedly became pregnant after visiting Jandali and his family in Syria, but Schieble's father couldn't accept the idea of his daughter marrying a Muslim and forbade the relationship.

Without telling Janaldi, Schieble moved to San Francisco, where she gave birth and put Jobs up for adoption. He was placed with Paul and Clara Jobs, and Schieble reportedly refused to sign the adoption papers until the Jobs promised her the child would go to college someday. Schieble and Jandali later married and had a second child, Jobs' biological sister.

CBS News reported that Jobs unknowingly met his birth father several times throughout his life. "I was in [the] restaurant [Jandali owned] once or twice and I remember meeting the owner who was from Syria. And it was most certainly [my father]. And I shook his hand and he shook my hand. And that's all ... [Paul and Clara] were my parents," Steve said.

He added, "When I was looking for my biological mother, obviously, you know, I was looking for my biological father at the same time, and I learned a little bit about him and I didn't like what I learned. I asked her to not tell him that we ever met... not tell him anything about me."

Angelina Jolie

Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie has been estranged from her father, actor Jon Voight, for most of her adult life. The father-daughter divide stems from Voight allegedly cheating on Jolie's mother, Marcheline Bertrand, and abandoning Jolie and her brother, James Haven, when she was just 1 year old, the New York Daily News reported.

Bertrand reportedly wanted Jolie to maintain some sort of a relationship with Voight, and it appeared that the actress followed through by co-staring with Voight as her on-screen father in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001). 

Unfortunately, in 2002, Voight told press that his daughter had "serious mental problems," which prompted another longstanding estrangement. The pair reconciled somewhat in 2010 at the behest of Jolie's ex, actor Brad Pitt.


Eminem's troubled relationship with his mother, Debbie Nelson, has been well-documented in the rapper's music, but part of what caused their issues may be the fact that his father abandoned him when he was a baby. 

In her book, My Son Marshall, My Son Eminem (via MTV News,) Nelson writes, "He never knew his father, and I did all I could to make up for it. I wasn't happy when he made up a whole new life for himself—what mother wants to be known as a pill-popping alcoholic who lives on welfare? To tell the truth, I was heartbroken."

Macaulay Culkin

Macaulay Culkin's parents, father Kit and mother Patricia, divorced in 1995, leading to a bitter battle over who would get custody of the children, including Macaulay and his massive acting fortune. Macaulay emancipated himself from his parents at age 14, and to this day, he remains estranged from Kit, who has since reportedly suffered a stroke that left him nearly incapacitated. 

Kit told the Daily Mail in 2015, "I don't consider him a son anymore."

"As far as Macaulay is concerned when Kit left them it was the best thing that ever happened," a source told the tab. "It won't be nice for Mac to hear Kit's comments about him no longer being a son, but considering they've spent more time estranged than together, it's not a huge surprise."

It does not appear that this story will have a happy ending. "Since the stroke, Kit's come to terms with not seeing his kids again," an insider said. "If they won't make contact when he's at death's door, what hope does he have in the future? He's stopped beating himself up about it and isn't bitter anymore. He's found peace."

Kate Hudson

In September 2016, Kate Hudson, who was raised by mom Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, spoke at length with Howard Stern about the daddy issues she developed when her biological father, Bill Hudson, left her and brother Oliver as kids.

"He was around when we were young, it sort of teetered out," she said. "I really do recognize whatever those issues are, it's just something that he has to live with, and that must be painful for him, so I forgive him... There is always the inability for me to understand my father. I don't understand it."

In 2015, Bill told the Daily Mail that he wanted Oliver and Kate to stop using his last name. "I say to them now, 'I set you free,'" he said. "I had five birth children but I now consider myself a father of three. I no longer recognize Oliver and Kate as my own... They are no longer a part of my life."

John Lennon

John Lennon's father, Alfred "Freddie" Lennon, split from Lennon's mother, Julia, in 1944, leading to a lifelong estrangement with the "Imagine" icon. 

"I never knew my father," John said in a 1966 interview featured in Anthology (via Ultimate Classic Rock.) "I saw him twice in my life till I was 22, when he turned up after I'd had a few hit records. I saw him and spoke to him, and decided I still didn't want to know him."

John invited Alfred to his home in October 1970, but it didn't go well. John was reportedly shaking, grabbing, and screaming at Alfred. "John told his father if he went to the press with his life story, he would lock him in a crate and throw him out of a plane into the ocean to be drowned. Freddie believed his son was unbalanced enough to do just that," Tony Cartwright recalled in Anthology. "Freddie never saw John again."

Freddie died in 1975. A year later, John said in an interview, "I came out of the therapy and told him to get the hell out, and he did get the hell out, and I wish I hadn't really because everyone has their problems—including wayward fathers. I'm a bit older now and I understand the pressure of having children or divorces and reasons why people can't cope with their responsibility."

​Eartha Kitt

Eartha Kitt was a singer, dancer, actress, and activist. Born to a black woman on a cotton plantation in 1927, Kitt never learned the identity of her birth father. Her daughter, Kitt Shapiro, told The Observer (via The Guardian) that when Kitt found her birth certificate in 1998, her birth father's name was blacked out on the form. 

"My mother was 71 at the time and it was approaching the 21st century, and yet they were still protecting the name of the father even though he was clearly dead. They were protecting the white man because they would not have gone to that trouble to protect a black man," Shapiro said.

When Kitt's mother went to live with a black man, Kitt was cruelly rejected by him and abandoned by her mother because of her pale skin. Kitt went to live with another family but reportedly suffered abuse and mistreatment.

"She never found out her father's name, but always assumed he was white," Shapiro said. "My mother was referred to as a 'yellow gal,' which was not a compliment. It meant someone who thought they were better than everyone else even though my mother was just a child at the time. She was horribly abused in the South. She was beaten, mistreated, emotionally and physically."

Tommy Davidson

African-American comedian and actor Tommy Davidson was just 1 year old when he was adopted by a white family. His adoptive mother reportedly discovered him behind a pile of trash when he was 18 months old.

"My mom who raised me, something told her to look behind this tire that was in a pile of trash, and she saw my foot," Davidson said on Oprah's Where Are They Now (via The Huffington Post). He was rushed to a hospital for skull damage and other injuries. "I was damaged pretty bad," he said. "[They] didn't even know if I was going to live."

Davidson was raised as the youngest of three children in Maryland. Despite being a black child in a white family during the racially turbulent 1960s, Davidson said, "The love that I got didn't have any color."

Sarah McLachlan

Sarah McLachlan was born in 1968 to Judy Kaines James, a young art student at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Shortly after Sarah's birth, she was adopted by marine biologist Dr. Jack McLachlan and his wife, Dorice, who named her Sarah Ann McLachlan. She has two older brothers, who were also adopted.

The "I Will Remember You" singer eventually met her birth mother when she was 19. Sarah told Rolling Stone the encounter was "a complete coincidence" through a mutual acquaintance. "I never really was interested in knowing her... I don't want to hurt my birth mother, either, but my mother is my mother. To me, it's fascinating to know my birth mother, genewise. That's really it. My mom and dad gave me a wonderful life."