Every person has a story to tell and success doesn’t always come easily. Sadly, many children start off their lives separated by their birth parents due to death, financial instabilities and worse yet, selfish abandonment. With the approaching presidential election and this being National Adoption Awareness Month, I wanted to take a look at politicians throughout history that were adopted and see how they overcame a childhood obstacle and succeeded in spite of the circumstances.
John Hancock was born to a wealthy family near Boston, MA in 1737. He father, a Puritan minister, died when he was 7. His mother did not have enough money to keep the family together, so he was sent to live with his uncle and aunt who had no children of their own and raised him as their son. He attended college at Harvard and later when his uncle died, returned home to run the shipping and real estate business.
John first caught the attention of the people when he protested the Sugar Act and Stamp Act in the 1760’s. He was elected to the Boston Assembly in 1766 and became president of the Congress of Massachusetts in 1773 and then president of the Continental Congress is 1775.
As president of the Continental Congress, he was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
Nelson Mandela was born in 1918 in a the small village in South Africa. His father was the chief of their tribe, but was later deprived of his status and moved the family to another village. When Nelson was 9, his father died of tuberculosis and he was put under the guardianship of the region of Jongintaba. He was Thembu royalty and attended a Wesleyan school and college as well as Fort Hare University, University of South Africa and law school at the University of Witwatersrand.
Nelson was intelligent and understood the meaning of equality and the opportunity to become well educated. He used this opportunities to fight for equality and justice for people everywhere. He became the leader of the ANC (African National Councils) and was sent to prison for his beliefs and outward protests of inequality in 1962 where he spent almost 27 years.
The call for freedom was heard around the world and he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and elected president of South Africa in 1994.
Eleanor was born in 1884 in New York City. Her mother died in 1892 and she and her brother, Theodore, went to live with their grandmother. Their father died 2 years later. She attended a distinguished school in England at age 15 where a distant cousin named Franklin Delano Roosevelt was in her circle of friends. They were engaged in 1903 and married in 1905, with her uncle the President of the United States giving her away. Within an 11 year time period, she gave birth to six children and became the political helpmeet to her husband while he served for 3 years in the state senate of New York.
Franklin became sick with polio in 1921 and she tended to him devotedly while becoming active with the women’s division of the State Democratic Committee to keep his interest in politics alive. Eleanor dedicated her life to her husband’s political purposes from his election as governor of NY in 1928 and his inauguration as President of the United States in 1933 by never shirking official entertaining, holding press conferences, lectures, radio broadcasts and a daily syndicated newspaper column “My Day.”
After her husband died in 1945, she continued a vigorous career as American Spokesman to the United Nations until failing health and later death took her away in 1962.
Gerald was born with the name Leslie Lynch King, Jr. in 1913 in Omaha, Nebraska. His biological father was abusive and his mother left him when her son was only 16 days old. She moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan and lived with her parents for 2 ½ years when she married Gerald Ford, Sr. Leslie became Gerald Rudolff Ford Jr. at this time. He was never formally adopted by Ford and the future president did not change his name legally until 1935 at the age of 22.
He maintained sporadic contact with his biological father after he contacted Gerald at age 17. Gerald was very active with the Boy Scouts of America and is the only U.S. President to hold the honor of Eagle Scout. He attended college at the University of Michigan where played football and was offered professional positions with the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers. He turned both offers down and attended Yale Law School. He became interested in politics during that time. He joined the Navy after the attack on Pearl Harbor and reported for active duty.
After returning from the war, he became increasingly active in politics. He was elected 13 times to congress representing the people of Grand Rapids, Michigan and the surrounding area for 25 years. He was appointed to the vice presidency by Richard Nixon and later to the presidency of the United States when Nixon resigned because of the Watergate Scandal.
He is the only president that was not elected to the vice presidency or the presidency by the people.
William “Bill” Clinton
Bill Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe, III in Hope, Arkansas. His father was a traveling salesman and died in an auto accident 3 months before Bill was born. His mother traveled to New Orleans to study nursing soon after his birth. Bill stayed in Arkansas with is grandparents. In 1950, Bill’s mother returned home and married Roger Clinton, Sr. He assumed the use of his stepfather’s name at that time, but didn’t change his name to Clinton, formally until he was 15 years old. Bill attended college at Georgetown University , University College, Oxford and Yale Law school. He became Governor of Arkansas in 1978 and served in that role for almost 10 years. He was inaugurated as the 42nd President of the United States in January 1993 and served until January 2001.
No matter what obstacles life hands us, we have the opportunity to move past it and make our dreams come true. There are many children in this world wishing and hoping for parents that will love them. Have you ever thought about the future presidents, first ladies and other world changers living among us only needing a little love, confidence and opportunity to flourish into the leaders they were born to be?
Maybe it’s time to think about adopting a child and helping them make their dreams come true.