5 Inspiring People Who Are Changing the World Through Adoption Advocacy

There are more people than you think who are changing the world through adoption advocacy. Here are a few you may not have known about!

Stephan Petryczka March 29, 2018

This is a list of heroes that have changed the way that Americans think about adoption. Whether their actions were large or small, their words loud or quiet, their stories linger in people’s ears. It’s a powerful discovery to learn that someone you admire was adopted, but it is even more powerful when you learn that that person decided to adopt their own children as well, as in the case with celebrity #1 Frances McDormand.

I remember the first time I noticed a Wendy’s fast food to-go cup crushed on a New York sidewalk. I’d probably seen a thousand of these before, but this time, the cup stood out to me because I read the word “adoption.” I instantly whipped out my phone and realized that the Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas had been adopted and had also made a huge impact on adoption fundraising and legislative initiatives. It was that day that I discovered which fast food restaurant was my favorite. For more interesting stories about adopted adults making a ripple in the mainstream conversation about adoption, please read about these 5 adopted adult celebrities changing the world through adoption advocacy.

Frances McDormand
1. Frances McDormand

Frances McDormand, the recent recipient of best actress at both this year’s Golden Globes and Oscars, was adopted by a vagrant pastor and his wife who was a receptionist. One of nine, the couple had never been able to carry a pregnancy to term. When McDormand once had the opportunity to meet her birth mother, she refused. She felt resentment and a feeling of being unwanted, as some adoptees feel toward their birth parents. In 1995, McDormand and her husband adopted their son Pedro from Paraguay. Now 24, Pedro is a personal trainer and helps his father out on movie sets. Although McDormand prefers to keep her private life out of the spotlight, she is an adoptee and proud adoptive parent. For a full story, please read this New York Time's piece.

Nicholas Zill, 'Institute for Family Studies'
2. Nicholas Zill, 'Institute for Family Studies'

Nicholas Zill is one psychologist and researcher that that has committed himself to studying the changing face of adoption in the United States. Zill’s work has been centered around how the American family influences childhood. At the Institute for Family Studies, you can find several reports that Zill has compiled on the demographics who’s being adopted, the impact of adoption on a child’s education, and many more otherwise unexplored topics. One should know before going to read his studies that there is an apparent religious and political bias in his studies, as with any study.

Sterling K. Brown, 'This Is Us'
3. Sterling K. Brown, 'This Is Us'

In the tear-jerking drama 'This Is Us,' Sterling K. Brown plays Randall Pearson, the adopted black son in a white Pittsburgh family. Brown himself is not adopted, however, he hits the nail on the head as his character (the role has already won him two Emmy awards and a Golden Globe). Brown’s character navigates childhood and adulthood, struggling with adoption all along the way. The show follows the character through early childhood curiosity about his background to trying to reunite with his birth family. Without giving too much else away, I will say that this show will make anyone related to adoption feel connected. For more, watch this interview.

Haley Radke
4. Haley Radke

Founder of the blog and associated social media accounts for her project Adoptees On, Haley Radkey has made a youthful, honest, and informative splash in the adoption world. Adoptees On is a podcast series where adult adoptees describe and discuss being adopted. Whereas many adoption advocacy and affiliate groups stray away from raw, deep reflections on their experiences, Adoptees On ensures a balanced and honest take. Radke herself is an adult adoptee that established a connection with her biological father and, unfortunately, experienced a secondary rejection from her biological mother. Despite her struggles, she keeps her head on her shoulders and captivates her audience, adopted or unadopted, with her engaging discussions and personal investigations.

Connie Going, adoption advocate and consultant in Florida
5. Connie Going, adoption advocate and consultant in Florida

Connie Going, whose personal page can be found here, is an adoptee herself and an adoption advocate. Going herself was adopted from foster care and has begun a social work practice that focuses on children from similar backgrounds. Going garnered national attention when she brought a teenager, who is now her adoptive son, before a church to ask if anyone was willing to adopt the boy. Going is now advocating for adoptee’s rights in the state of Florida and facilitating the adoption of adolescents in foster care through the Florida Heart Gallery where prospective parents can find information about whom they may adopt. Going also advises Let it Be Us, a mission-driven nonprofit that helps conduct similar work in the state of Illinois.

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Stephan Petryczka

Stephan was born in Ukraine, adopted by an American family, and raised outside of New York City. After meeting with his biological family last summer, he has taken steps toward becoming involved in the greater adoptee and orphan service communities. Stephan recently began coordinating programs for the FRUA young adult group. He is currently studying for his Master's of Urban Planning at New York University.

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