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Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons

12 People You Might Not Know Were Adopted

Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons
Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons

Chances are you know someone whose life has been touched by adoption. Each year, about 135,000 children are adopted by families in the U.S. In honor of World Adoption Day and National Adoption Day both taking place this week, here are 12 people who grew up to become famous figures after finding their permanent homes.

1. GERALD FORD

The 38th President of the United States was born in 1913 and named Leslie Lynch King Jr. after his biological father, but his parents separated soon after his birth. His mother remarried when her son was 2, and legally changed his name to reflect that of his new father: Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr. He was adopted and was a preteen when he found out Ford Sr. wasn’t his birth father. "It didn't make a big impression on me at the time," Ford once said. "I didn't understand exactly what a stepfather was. Dad and I had the closest, most intimate relationship. We acted alike. We had the same interests. I thought we looked alike." He finally met his biological father, who came looking for him when he was in high school, but felt that his true bond was with his stepfather, the only father he actually knew.

2. STEVE JOBS

The Apple visionary was born in 1955 to an unmarried couple from the Midwest. His biological mother's family didn’t approve of their relationship (his biological father was a Syrian Muslim immigrant), so she moved to San Francisco, had her baby in secret, and put him up for adoption. Paul and Clara Jobs adopted Steve, but only after they signed a pledge that his birth mother insisted on—that the child would attend college. Jobs never met his biological father, and he frequently corrected anyone who didn't refer to Paul and Clara as his "real parents." "They were my real parents," he said. "1000 percent."

3. SARAH MCLACHLAN

When Sarah McLachlan—the Canadian singer famous for her hit songs like "Angel" and founding Lilith Fair—was about 9 years old, she was told that she'd been adopted shortly after she was born. She's said it never bothered her because she loved her parents and was too young to fully understand. Her birth mother was a 19-year-old artist in Nova Scotia who would have struggled to raise her child, and though McLachlan did eventually meet her, she's said she is glad that they both had the opportunity to go on and live their dreams.

4. DARRYL MCDANIELS

One of the founding members of hip hop group Run–D.M.C., Darryl McDaniels was adopted as a baby—but he didn’t find out until he was 35. While writing his autobiography, he called his parents to ask them for details about the day he was born. They revealed to him that they had adopted him when he was just 1 month old. (His wife had always teased him that he didn’t look like anyone in his family, and suddenly they knew why.) The revelation deeply affected him; he had already struggled with some depression in his life, had recently lost his dear friend and bandmate Jam Master Jay, and McDaniels was drinking heavily and even considered suicide (he actually credits Sarah McLachlan's song "Angel" with getting him through his darkest days). He worked to get through it, and documented his search for his birth mother in a VH1 documentary, DMC: My Adoption Journey, in 2006. They were reunited when he was 41.

5. DAVE THOMAS

Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s, was adopted as a baby. He was raised mainly by his adoptive father and grandmother after losing his adoptive mother at 5 and two stepmothers before he was 10. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush asked him to spearhead a national campaign to encourage people to adopt or foster children, and to help businesses understand the importance of offering adoption benefits. Two years later he created the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, dedicated to increasing the number of children placed each year. He testified before Congress in support of adoption tax credits and helped in the creation of an adoption postage stamp that was issued by the U.S. Postal Service in 2000.

6. FAITH HILL

The country singer knew she was adopted from a young age but was told she had been given up because her birth mother had an affair with a married man who wouldn’t leave his wife for her. In reality, the couple did get married and had another child whom they kept. Hill learned the truth when she tracked down her birth mom shortly after she moved to Nashville to pursue a career as a singer. She says that despite loving her family and being happy she was adopted, there was a feeling that something was missing from her life. "I was adopted into this incredible home, a loving, positive environment, yet I had this yearning, this kind of darkness that was also inside me," she has said. She was awed by her first meeting with her biological mother, who looked just like her.

7. JAMIE FOXX

The Academy Award-winning actor is actually a second-generation adoptee; his mother was adopted as well. He was officially adopted by his maternal grandparents after his parents decided they couldn’t handle having a child when he was 7 months old. His grandmother was 60 when she took him in, and he publicly thanked her in his 2005 Oscar acceptance speech. In 2003 he appeared on "A Home for the Holidays," a Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption CBS special where he shared his adoption story and encouraged others to adopt or foster as well.

8. DEBBIE HARRY

The Blondie singer was born in 1945 and adopted when she was 3 months old. Her parents told her when she was 4 and she says that they did it in a way that made her feel "quite special." When she was a teenager she used to fantasize that her birth mother was Marilyn Monroe. Harry says that she thinks her being adopted might be why she is so adventurous, since she felt it didn’t give her any limitations. "I sometimes attribute my, uh, adventurous nature to that... I have an open mind about things," Harry has said. "It didn't present me with any borders."

9. GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER

The famous African-American scientist was born into slavery in Missouri shortly before the end of the Civil War, although the exact year and date are unknown. He was one of many children born to the only two slaves owned by the Carver family, who were farmers. Almost immediately after his birth, he, his mother, and a sister were kidnapped by raiders. But the Carvers sent someone to look for them and only the infant George was recovered. Once slavery was abolished, they raised him and one of his brothers, James, as their own.

10. RAY LIOTTA

The Goodfellas actor was born in 1954, and given up for adoption at 6 months old, after his unmarried birth parents realized they couldn’t afford to raise him. His adoptive parents told him about it when he was very young, and he even did a presentation on being adopted as a kindergartner. But when Liotta got older and was going to have a child of his own, he worried about what genetic traits they might inherit, so he sought to find his birth mother. "I found my birth mother and found out I have, not an identical twin, but a half brother, five half sisters and a full sister that I didn’t know about until 15 years ago," he said in 2014. When his biological mom found out the son she gave up was now a famous actor he said she had "a whole different bounce to her voice." But Liotta remains grateful that he was adopted, though he admits that he struggled with feelings of being given up at times.

11. FRANCES MCDORMAND

McDormand, the Oscar-winning Fargo actress, was adopted by a minister and his wife as an infant. She doesn’t know who her biological mother was, though she was given the opportunity to meet her when she was 18; ultimately she did correspond with her, but decided not to pursue a relationship. McDormand has discussed her adoption and how angry the knowledge of her abandonment makes her feel, but she has also said, "It’s subjective, and every adopted person comes to it differently." And that also includes her own son—she and husband Joel Coen chose to adopt their child, Pedro, from Paraguay. "And my son will deal with it in his own way," she said.

12. KEEGAN-MICHAEL KEY

The actor and comedian—and one-half of comedy duo Key & Peele—was born to a white woman and her married black co-worker; he was adopted as a baby by another biracial couple. In 1996, at age 25, he found his birth mother. He calls it one of "the most unexpected and crucial and significant and foundational things" that happened in his life. He also says it is the reason he now has such a strong faith. When he met her, he listened to her life story and how she came to give him up for adoption, and then he says he suddenly found himself crying and accepting Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. "So, that was pretty unexpected," he said. "It's one of the touchstones in both my spiritual and personal life."

All images via Getty unless otherwise noted.
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8 Things We Know About Stranger Things Season 3
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[Warning: There are lots of Stranger Things season two spoilers ahead.]

Stranger Things season two is in the books, and like we all hoped, it turned out to be a worthy follow-up to an addictive debut season. Now, though, we’re left with plenty of questions, mysteries, and theories to chew on as the wait for a third season begins. But for everything we don’t know about what the next year of Stranger Things will bring us (such as an actual release date), there are more than enough things we do know to keep those fan theories coming well into 2018. While the show hasn't been officially greenlit for a third season by Netflix yet, new details have already begun to trickle out. Here’s everything we know about Stranger Things season three so far.

1. THERE WILL BE ANOTHER TIME JUMP.

The third season of Stranger Things won’t pick up right where the second one left off. Like the show experienced between the first two seasons, there will be a time jump between seasons two and three as well. The reason is simple: the child actors are all growing up, and instead of having the kids look noticeably older without explanation for year three, the Duffer Brothers told The Hollywood Reporter:

“Our kids are aging. We can only write and produce the show so fast. They're going to be almost a year older by the time we start shooting season three. It provides certain challenges. You can't start right after season two ended. It forces you to do a time jump. But what I like is that it makes you evolve the show. It forces the show to evolve and change, because the kids are changing.”

2. THE IDEA IS TO BE SMALLER IN SCALE.

If the series’s second season was about expanding the Stranger Things mythology, the third season won't go bigger just for the sake of it, with the brothers even going so far as to say that it will be a more intimate story.

“It’s not necessarily going to be bigger in scale,” Matt Duffer said in an interview with IndieWire. “What I am really excited about is giving these characters an interesting journey to go on.”

Ross Duffer did stress, though, that as of early November, season three is basically “… Matt and me working with some writers and figuring out where it’s going to go.”

3. THE MIND FLAYER WILL BE BACK.

The second season ended on a bit of a foreboding note when it was revealed that the Mind Flayer was still in the Upside Down and was seen looming over the Hawkins school as the winter dance was going on. Though we know there will be a time jump at the start of next season, it’s clear that the monster will still have a big presence on the show.

Executive producer Dan Cohen told TV Guide: "There were other ways we could have ended beyond that, but I think that was a very strong, lyrical ending, and it really lets us decide to focus where we ultimately are going to want to go as we dive into Season 3."

What does the Mind Flayer’s presence mean for the new crop of episodes? Well, there will be plenty of fan theories to ponder between now and the season three premiere (whenever that may be).

4. PLENTY OF LEFTOVER SEASON TWO STORYLINES WILL BE IN SEASON THREE.

The Duffer Brothers had a lot of material for the latest season of the show—probably a bit too much. Talking to Vulture, Matt Duffer detailed a few details and plot points that had to be pushed to season three:

"Billy was supposed to have a bigger role. We ended up having so many characters it ended up, in a way, more teed up for season three than anything. There was a whole teen supernatural story line that just got booted because it was just too cluttered, you know? A lot of that’s just getting kicked into season three."

The good news is that he also told the site that this wealth of cut material could make the writing process for the third season much quicker.

5. THERE WILL BE MORE ERICA.

Stranger Things already had a roster of fan-favorite characters heading into season two, but newcomer Erica, Lucas’s little sister, may have overshadowed them all. Played by 11-year-old Priah Ferguson, Erica is equal parts expressive, snarky, and charismatic. And the Duffer Brothers couldn’t agree more, saying that there will be much more Erica next season.

“There will definitely be more Erica in Season 3,” Ross Duffer told Yahoo!. “That is the fun thing about the show—you discover stuff as you’re filming. We were able to integrate more of her in, but not as much you want because the story [was] already going. ‘We got to use more Erica’—that was one of the first things we said in the writers’ room.”

“I thought she’s very GIF-able, if that’s a word,” Matt Duffer added. “She was great.”

6. EXPECT KALI TO RETURN.

The season two episode “The Lost Sister” was a bit of an outlier for the series. It’s a standalone episode that focuses solely on the character Eleven, leaving the central plot and main cast of Hawkins behind. As well-received as Stranger Things season two was, this episode was a near-unanimous miss among fans and critics.

The episode did, however, introduce us to the character of Kali (Linnea Berthelsen), who has the ability to manipulate people’s minds with illusions she creates. Despite the reaction, the Duffers felt the episode was vital to Eleven’s development, and that Kali won’t be forgotten moving forward.

“It feels weird to me that we wouldn’t solve [Kali’s] storyline. I would say chances are very high she comes back,” Matt Duffer said at the Vulture Festival.

7. OTHER "NUMBERS" MIGHT SHOW UP.

We're already well acquainted with Eleven, and season two introduced us to Eight (a.k.a. Kali), and executive producer Shawn Levy heavily hinted to E! that there are probably more Hawkins Laboratory experiments on the horizon.

"I think we've clearly implied there are other numbers, and I can't imagine that the world will only ever know Eleven and Eight," Levy said.

8. THERE MIGHT NOT BE MANY SEASONS LEFT.

Don’t be in too much of a rush to find out everything about the next season of Stranger Things; there might not be many more left. The Duffer Brothers have said in the past that the plan is to do four seasons and end it. However, Levy gave fans a glimmer of hope that things may go on a little while longer—just by a bit, though.

“Hearts were heard breaking in Netflix headquarters when the Brothers made four seasons sound like an official end, and I was suddenly getting phone calls from our actors’ agents,” Levy told Entertainment Weekly. “The truth is we’re definitely going four seasons and there’s very much the possibility of a fifth. Beyond that, it becomes I think very unlikely.”

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Why Do Fruitcakes Last So Long?
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Fruitcake is a shelf-stable food unlike any other. One Ohio family has kept the same fruitcake uneaten (except for periodic taste tests) since it was baked in 1878. In Antarctica, a century-old fruitcake discovered in artifacts left by explorer Robert Falcon Scott’s 1910 expedition remains “almost edible,” according to the researchers who found it. So what is it that makes fruitcake so freakishly hardy?

It comes down to the ingredients. Fruitcake is notoriously dense. Unlike almost any other cake, it’s packed chock-full of already-preserved foods, like dried and candied nuts and fruit. All those dry ingredients don’t give microorganisms enough moisture to reproduce, as Ben Chapman, a food safety specialist at North Carolina State University, explained in 2014. That keeps bacteria from developing on the cake.

Oh, and the booze helps. A good fruitcake involves plenty of alcohol to help it stay shelf-stable for years on end. Immediately after a fruitcake cools, most bakers will wrap it in a cheesecloth soaked in liquor and store it in an airtight container. This keeps mold and yeast from developing on the surface. It also keeps the cake deliciously moist.

In fact, fruitcakes aren’t just capable of surviving unspoiled for months on end; some people contend they’re better that way. Fruitcake fans swear by the aging process, letting their cakes sit for months or even years at a stretch. Like what happens to a wine with age, this allows the tannins in the fruit to mellow, according to the Wisconsin bakery Swiss Colony, which has been selling fruitcakes since the 1960s. As it ages, it becomes even more flavorful, bringing out complex notes that a young fruitcake (or wine) lacks.

If you want your fruitcake to age gracefully, you’ll have to give it a little more hooch every once in a while. If you’re keeping it on the counter in advance of a holiday feast a few weeks away, the King Arthur Flour Company recommends unwrapping it and brushing it with whatever alcohol you’ve chosen (brandy and rum are popular choices) every few days. This is called “feeding” the cake, and should happen every week or so.

The aging process is built into our traditions around fruitcakes. In Great Britain, one wedding tradition calls for the bride and groom to save the top tier of a three-tier fruitcake to eat until the christening of the couple’s first child—presumably at least a year later, if not more.

Though true fruitcake aficionados argue over exactly how long you should be marinating your fruitcake in the fridge, The Spruce says that “it's generally recommended that soaked fruitcake should be consumed within two years.” Which isn't to say that the cake couldn’t last longer, as our century-old Antarctic fruitcake proves. Honestly, it would probably taste OK if you let it sit in brandy for a few days.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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