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"I am thanking my lucky stars every day," the American Horror Story actress told PEOPLE after adopting son Yoby from Ethiopia last November. And rightly so: Britton's dream of motherhood came true after a three-year long wait. "[It's] such a wonderful moment of completion."
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So nice, she did it twice! Shortly after adopting daughter Amaya Josephine in April, the Law amp Order: SVU star and husband Peter Hermann brought home son Andrew Nicolas. "We never in a million years thought it would happen this quickly," Hargitay, who is also mom to son August, 5, told PEOPLE, "but something inside of us knew that this was right, and we said, 'Yes, yes, yes!'"
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"This is something I have wanted for a very long time," Davis told PEOPLE after introducing daughter Gemma Rose, whom she welcomed through domestic adoption in 2011. "Having this wish come true is even more gratifying than I ever had imagined. I feel so blessed."
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The Big amp Rich family grew even bigger when singer Big Kenny (real name: Kenny Alphin) and wife Christiev brought home son Dakota Jefferson Holiday as a sibling for then 4-year-old son Lincoln in July 2010. "The moment Kenny started talking to him, Dakota lunged toward him," she told PEOPLE. "We both looked at each other and it was like, 'Of course he is our son.'"
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After 25 years as a movie star, Cruise counts the role of dad as his greatest. "Nic and I are doing a terrific job," Cruise told Oprah in 2005 of raising Bella, 19, and Connor, 17 (whom he adopted and shares custody with ex-wife Nicole Kidman). "I'm really proud with how we're raising the kids. I think we're both really proud."
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In May 2007, a year after her breast cancer diagnosis, the Grammy winner was counting her blessings – for being cancer-free and a new mom at 45. "My life is definitely richer," says Crow of raising adopted son Wyatt, who turns 5 April 29, "and he's the first thing I think of in the morning, and the first thing I think of before I go to sleep." In 2010, Crow adopts another baby boy named Levi, who turns 3 April 30.
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JAMIE LEE CURTIS
"Adoption is an issue for everybody at all stages," Curtis, who has two adopted kids (Annie, 25, and Tom, 16) with Christopher Guest, told Ladies Home Journal. "There's tremendous loss and great love and great warmth." To help bridge those feelings, she wrote the 1996 children's book Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born, which has been embraced by adoptive families.
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"We wanted a child and weren't being successful," Andrews told PEOPLE in 1977 of adopting two Vietnamese orphans, Amy Leigh and Joanna Lynne (now in their 30s), with husband Blake Edwards. "It's been wonderful to watch two pale, sad-eyed creatures blossom." Now she's a grandmother to seven, saying, it's been "wonderful because you get all the fun and you get to spoil as much as you like."
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Controversy is nothing new to the pop superstar, who found herself making headlines in May 2008 over the adoption of son David Banda, 6, from Malawi. A year later, the single mother of three went to court again – this time to bring home daughter Mercy, 5, from the country. While the adoptive journey has been a "painful" one, Madonna says, "I'm happy to be the guinea pig."
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What makes the Aussie actor happiest is "being with my family, definitely, without a doubt," he tells PEOPLE. Family for Jackman is wife of 16 years Deborra-Lee Furness and their two adopted children Oscar, 11, and Ava, 6. The hands-on dad says adopting is "phenomenal, and there are so many kids in need. It's the greatest thing that's ever happened to us."
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When his wife returned from a humanitarian trip with a baby in her arms, Arizona Sen. John McCain asked, "Where's she going to go?" Cindy told Marie Claire. "And I said, 'She's coming to our house.' And he never missed a beat." Now Bangladesh-born Bridget, 20, is Dad's pride. "She's the toughest of the four [siblings]. The youngest always has to be the toughest."
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BRAD PITT & ANGELINA JOLIE
It may be a challenge for the parents of six (Maddox, 10, Pax, 8, Zahara, 7, Shiloh, 5, twins Vivienne and Knox, 3) to get all the kids off to bed or even get a good night sleep themselves, but the couple wouldn't have it any other way. "Wanting a big family is one of things that brought us together," says Jolie, whose adopted children hail from Cambodia, Vietnam and Ethiopia. Adds partner Pitt, who hasn't ruled out more children – biological or adopted: "Always said if I were to do it, I'd do it big."
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She's adopted 11 children, had four biological kids – and Farrow knows she's had her hands full. "I've often thought how presumptuous I was to assume that I could be good enough to be the person that all of them need," she told U.K.'s The Guardian. But despite her family's complexity, she remains blissful. "I have the most wonderful children," she has said. "I've been very, very blessed."
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Before falling for David E. Kelley in 1993, the actress had other plans for a family. "The adoption process was already in motion when he and I met," Pfeiffer told Ladies Home Journal about bringing home Claudia Rose, now 19. "He and I had only been together for about two months. ... Obviously, he really rose to the occasion." The producer and the star married less than a year later, and welcomed son John, now 15.
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"It changed my priorities in a moment without even trying to," O'Donnell told PEOPLE of adopting her first child, Parker, in 1995 as a single parent. Flash-forward and the comedian is now mom to four: Vivienne Rose, 9 (with ex Kelli Carpenter), and adopted son Blake, 12, and daughter Chelsea Belle, 14. "What makes a family is love," she's said, "and we all love each other."
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The actress spent 10 years trying to adopt domestically, but she told Allure, "It never worked." So Ryan tried her luck in China, and in January 2006 brought home daughter Daisy True to join big brother Jack Henry, 19 (her son with ex-husband Dennis Quaid). "I never felt like I was on a rescue mission or anything like that," Ryan says. "I was on a mission to connect with somebody."
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"Motherhood was not an urge I couldn't resist," Keaton has said, "it was more like a thought I'd been thinking for a very long time." In 1996 at age 50, the actress adopted daughter Dexter, now 16, followed by son Duke, 11, in 2001. The famously press-shy star, who shared her family album with More magazine in 2007, says, "I do feel now that the love of my children is all-encompassing."
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Welcoming Courtney, now 25, was a life-changing moment for the Today weatherman, also dad to Leila, 13, and Nicholas, 9, with wife Deborah Roberts. "The first time I held her I felt this instant love," he told Larry King. "When that baby looks at you, that's your child."
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The legendary entertainer and singer Dolores Reade had one of Hollywood's most enduring unions – 69 years! – and added to it by adopting four kids beginning in 1939: Linda, Tony, Nora and Kelly. While Hope traveled the globe – "I was twelve before I learned that he wasn't an airline pilot," Linda joked to TIME in 1967 – the family man contended he never missed a milestone.
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"I always wanted a large family," says Stone, who suffered several miscarriages before she and her ex-husband, newspaper editor Phil Bronstein, adopted son Roan in 2000. Ten years later, the actress is mother to three boys (brother Laird, 6, arrived in May 2005; and Quinn, 5, a year later). Though she "multitasks" well, Stone told PEOPLE the most surprising part of being a mom is "that I can actually accomplish it all every day. And get them all under blankets every night."
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OSCAR DE LA RENTA
The iconic fashion designer adopted day-old Moises, now 27, from an orphanage in the Dominican Republic shortly after his first wife died. "He is the sweetest, nicest human being," he told New York. "He has a heart of gold." He also has talent – Moises designs for clothing company Mango, and his work has appeared in Dad's runway shows.
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Through all her ups and downs, Alley's counted on two very important people: son William True, 19, and daughter Lillie Price, 17, whom she adopted with ex-husband Parker Stevenson. "They are very protective of me," she told PEOPLE. But she obviously watches out for them, as well. "My best quality is that I'm a good mother."
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In 1968, when the Today show anchor brought home a 4-day-old baby girl (with then-husband Lee Guber), she told no one. "I didn't really want people to know because there was a whole question of the biological mother," Walters told Larry King in 2001. Decades later she's talking openly about her decision. "When you have an adopted child, people can't understand that it's yours. ... I've said [she's] born in my heart. Maybe not in my uterus, but in my heart," Walters said. "And so, I can't think of not having Jackie."
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STEVEN SPIELBERG & KATE CAPSHAW
With a blended family of seven kids – including adopted son Theo, 23, and daughter Mikaela George, 16 – the couple make a point of helping others. One of their favorite charities: the Children's Action Network, which they helped found in 1990 to, in part, bring awareness to fostering and adoption. "Children need a voice," Capshaw once said. "And I can be very loud."
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When the Sex and the City star saw then 9-year-old Nathen at an L.A. adoption fair in 2008, he knew he'd found his son. "He has a spark. He was balancing himself on a curb, and I was like, 'That's my kid,' " the actor told PEOPLE. "Most people want infants, but I fell in love with Nathen."
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Motherhood was something Flockhart was very excited about, says Ally McBeal creator David E. Kelley of the actress's decision to adopt son Liam in 2001. And it's a role she takes seriously: She spent four years as a stay-at-home mom before returning to TV on Brothers amp Sisters. Says costar Dave Annable, "Any time [Liam's] name is mentioned, a huge grin comes on her face. You can really tell where he stands in her book."
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BURT REYNOLDS & LONI ANDERSON
"I never knew I could fall in love with anyone the way I have fallen in love with Quinton," Reynolds told PEOPLE in 1988 after adopting a baby boy with then-wife Anderson. The feeling was mutual – Quinton's first word was "da-da," and Anderson said their child "even had Burt Reynolds sideburns."
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"I would daydream about it all the time," Parker told PEOPLE about adopting. That dream came true in August 2007, when the Weeds star brought home daughter Caroline Aberash from Africa to join big brother William, 8 (with ex Billy Crudup). "It's hard raising two kids as a single person," she concedes, but "sometimes I just look at them and think, 'You are the two coolest people I have ever met.' "
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GEORGE BURNS & GRACIE ALLEN
Unable to have children because of Allen's congenital heart condition, the couple adopted Sandra in 1934 and Ronnie in 1935. "I find you have to take each day as it comes and be thankful for who's left," Burns told Cigar Aficionado. "They keep me busy. Without that, I'd be lost."
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KATHERINE HEIGL & JOSH KELLEY
"[Adoption is] really important to me," Heigl, whose sister Margaret is adopted from Korea, told Ellen DeGeneres when she announced in September 2009 that she and husband Josh Kelley were adopting a baby girl with special needs from South Korea. "Both her and Josh are wonderful, wonderful parents," says Heigl's mom Nancy of her daughter's devotion to 3-year-old Naleigh. "They just adore her."
Julianne's Trench, Jessica's Jumpsuit & More Affordable Shopping Picks for Fall!