Famous Businessmen Who Were Adopted

Childhood Values

There was never any doubt for Monaghan, though that he would carry his Catholic values with him into business. The pizza mogul is sometimes a target of feminists and liberals who resent that women in Domino's executive offices are not allowed to wear pants and that a corporate chaplain conducts daily mass in a company chapel. The National Organization for Women boycotted Domino's in the late 1980s after Monaghan made a $50,000 personal donation to stop state-funded abortions in Michigan.

 

Experts say it's not uncommon for adoptees to be more inclined to take up social and political causes or to become philanthropists once they've achieved financial success. According to a 1994 study of adolescent adoptees by the Search Institute in Minneapolis, 71 percent of adoptees place a high value on helping others and contributing to society, compared with 48 percent of those who are not adopted.

Anu Sharma, who researched the adoption study for the Search Institute, says many adoptees possess a strong desire "to be noticed -- to stand for something positive."

"Many believe they are "here for a reason, and therefore they should give back to society and strive to leave their mark," Sharma says.

There are no reliable statistics on the total number of Americans who are adopted. Adoption experts say this is an indicator of the ambivalence Americans have about adoption.

"Americans are obsessed with numbers and statistics," says Renee Garfinkel, a Washington psychologist. "We know how many erasers are sold each year by Office Depot, but we don't have a consistent, accurate measure for how many people in this country are adopted."

The willingness of business leaders to trumpet their status as adoptees is helping remove some of the mystery and social stigma once associated with adoption.

Wendy's Dave Thomas is trying to do that by making adoption causes a full-time passion. He's written thousands of personal appeals to company heads asking them to include adoption assistance in their company benefits plans. He's also worked with Presidents Bush and Clinton to promote legislation that would streamline the foster-care system and make adoption more affordable.

Thomas' commitment springs from his experience as a child. Shortly after he was adopted as a baby by Rex and Auleva Thomas, his mother died of rheumatic fever. His father remarried three times, and neither his father nor stepmothers made much time for him.

Shortly before his father married his second wife, young Thomas and his dad lived in a Detroit rooming house with no cooking facilities. They ate out every night, and that's when Thomas decided he'd like to own a restaurant.

"During meals, I had my dad all to myself," says Thomas. "I also liked seeing all of the families sitting together, enjoying themselves."

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