What do Steve Jobs, D.M.C., Malcolm X and Jesus all have in common?
What sounds like the beginning of a distasteful joke is actually quite the opposite. All of these men were adopted. Whomever the question is directed to probably wasn't expecting that, and for good reason. Ask anyone if he or she can list famous adoptive parents and he or she won't waste a breath recalling the big media coverage of Madonna and Angelina Jolie's adoptions. However, ask someone if he or she knows of any famous adopted people and you may be met with crickets or the scrambled Google search on a smart phone.
The rich and famous are often credited for overcoming tough childhoods and while adoption is certainly indicative of a unique home life, there are many people who transcend the adoptee stereotypes of being troubled for life. While adoption plays a paramount role in the identity of any adoptee, such as the mythological or divine representations of Jesus, Moses or Oedipus, it isn't just something for the divine and literary. Plenty of influential people find a way to make adoption a productive part of their lives and in fact end up taking extraordinary leaps in their success due in part to opportunities that adoption has given them.
Perhaps one of the best examples is the Greek philosopher Aristotle. He was an orphan whose guardian sent him off to study at Plato's academy in the 4th century. He studied there for 20 years and wrote some of the most influential scholarly studies in history.
You can also add President Bill Clinton to the list of famous adopted people (he was adopted by his step-father). Clinton, in fact, went on to advocate for adoption tax credits and reform in 1996, using adoptee identity for the better good.