Book Review: ‘Chosen for Greatness’

This is how adoption changes the world.

Derek Williams July 30, 2018
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What do Steve Jobs, Dave Thomas, Nelson Mandela, and Faith Hill all have in common? They were all adopted! The book, Chosen for Greatness: How Adoption Changes the World, written by Paul J. Batura, is a compilation of what I call “Origin Stories” of celebrities, politicians, and historical figures who have undergone the adoption experience. These little-known stories were the turning point in each person’s life. The common thread in each life was that a crisis in one person’s life became an opportunity to bless another person’s life with the gift of adoption.


Chosen contains very compelling biographies, tells how a certain person’s adoption came to be, and how it propelled them to greatness. For example, did you know that DAVE THOMAS, the founder of Wendy’s Restaurant, gained a love for hamburgers after his adoptive mother’s death? His adoptive dad would take him out to eat nearly every night to various greasy spoons where Dave learned how to run a restaurant through observation. Those observations spurred his imagination and propelled him to be one of the greatest restaurateurs in history. The Dave Thomas Foundation now advocates for the adoption of kids in the foster care system.

But, Dave Thomas is not alone. There are many, many other well-known figures who were adopted. Did you know BABE RUTH, the great Yankees slugger, grew up in an orphanage? Did you know NELSON MANDELA, the great South African civil rights leader, was adopted by a local chieftain who afforded him the opportunity to get a significant education that propelled him to write books from jail? Did you know STEVE JOBS, the founder of Apple, had adoptive parents who encouraged his imagination with computers and set him on a path that would affect us all? Did you know FAITH HILL, the famed country singer, always knew she was adopted and successfully searched for and found her birth mother?

Author Paul Batura does a great job weaving all of these vignettes together with a number of themes, one being this: where would we be if these people had not been adopted? Sure, all of these people inherited their natural gifts and abilities from their birth parents, but it was their adoptive parents that shaped these abilities and set them on a path that would shape the world for all of us!

Adoption Milestones

Chosen contains five sub-chapters dispersed through the book called, “Adoption Milestones.” They contain the following topics: Adoption in Ancient Times, The Rise and Fall of Orphanages, Orphan Trains, Adoption in America and Embryo adoption. The information packed into these subchapters are fascinating! For example:

1. The Orphan Train, created during the late 1800s, transported homeless children from the East Coast to the Midwest to mitigate the child homeless crisis.

2. The term “put up for adoption” was first coined from the tradition of placing children on a stage where prospective adoptive parents could choose which child to adopt.

3. By 1910, orphanages in the U.S. contained over 100,000 children.

4. International Adoptions in America started to increase after the Korean War.

5. By 1970, a record 175,000 children were adopted in the U.S.

6. There are currently over 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system.

7. Over 100,000 of those foster children are currently available for adoption.


Though this book is faith-based, it is not preachy, nor does it proselytize. Rather it shows how faith either played a prominent role in the life of these celebrities or in the lives of their birth parents or adoptive parents. Batura creatively shows how faith was the catalyst that, in one way or another, propelled towards the adoption option which changed their lives and ours as well.

Chosen for Greatness is an inspiring, motivating and thought-provoking book. Batura writes in an easy to understand form and has arranged the Table of Contents in a way that you can skip to your favorite celebrity. Some of these adoptions were unusual. For example, Nancy Reagan and Gerald Ford experienced step-father adoptions. George Washington Carver was adopted by his former owner after George’s emancipation. Hopefully, this book will spur someone to see adoption in a different light, to see adoptees in a different light, and to realize that adoption is no longer just an anomaly but is becoming more mainstream.

Are you ready to pursue a domestic infant adoption? Click here to connect with a compassionate, experienced adoption professional who can help get you started on the journey of a lifetime.

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Derek Williams

Derek Williams is an adoption social worker and has been in the field of child welfare and behavioral health since 2006, where he has assisted families in their adoption journeys. He and his wife started their own adoption journey in 1993 and have 8 children, 6 of whom are adopted. His adopted children are all different ethnicities, including East Indian, Jamaican, and Native American. He loves traveling with his family and is an avid NY Mets fan! Foster care and adoption is a passion and calling for Derek and he is pleased to share his experiences with others who are like-minded.

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