Everyone knows Nicole Richie’s dad is the legendary pop singer Lionel Richie, but a lot of folks may not realize that she was adopted. While Richie has since found success as a TV personality, fashion designer, and actress, for years, she understandably felt very heartbroken because of the fact that her birth parents had left her. Naturally, Richie for quite a while wanted nothing to do with her biological parents.
In this video, we’re going to be discussing what Nicole Richie has publicly said about her birth parents, her relationship with her father Lionel, and how her upbringing might have played a role in some of her later struggles with drugs and the law.
Facts Verse Presents: Lionel Richie’s Adopted Daughter Has Strong Words for Her Parents
Nicole Richie’s Early Life
Nicole Camille Escovedo was born on the 21st of September, 1981, in Berkeley, California, to parents Peter Michael Escovedo and Karen Moss. Both of her biological parents worked in the music industry and ran in essentially the same circles as Lionel Richie.
Peter Escovedo is the brother of musician Sheila E. and the nephew of latin guitarist Alejandro Escovedo. At the time, he was working as a percussionist and musical director. Escovedo was also a member of Lionel’s band and they briefly toured together.
While Peter was touring with Lionel, he met Moss, who was working as a backstage assistant for Sheila E. Not long after the couple met, Nicole was born.
By the time that Nicole was 2, her parents were having significant financial and relationship issues. Reportedly, Lionel first saw Nicole at a Prince concert where she was on stage playing the tambourine. Lionel went backstage, and since he knew Nicole’s mother and father and realized that they were having major problems, he offered to take Nicole in at his house until the tour was over so that they could sort out their issues.
Years later, in a joint interview with the Huffington Post, Lionel told Nicole that when he took her in, the situation with her parents was obviously not getting any better. In fact, at the time, her family was completely falling apart.
Knowing full well that they were incapable of adequately caring for Nicole due to financial reasons, Escovedo and Moss decided to take Lionel up on his generous offer. They agreed to let her move in with Richie and his wife at the time, Brenda Harvey. When Nicole went to live with Richie, she was just three years old.
After living with Lionel and his wife for a few years, it became crystal clear that Nicole’s biological parent’s were unable to provide for her.
In a later interview, Richie was quoted as saying that it took him just about a year to fall in love with Nicole. Lionel even referred to her endearingly as his ‘little button’. As time went on, and it became evident that he was her Dad, he realized that he would need to officially adopt her.
Knowing just how amazing little Nicole was, he also wanted to make everyone in her family regret that they hadn’t adopted her. Up until that point, Lionel and Brenda Harvey were considered to be Nicole’s legal guardians, but they made the adoption official when she was 9. Ever since, she’s been, Nicole Richie.
Nicole Knows That Lionel Had Her Best Interests In Mind
When asked about being adopted, Nicole told reporters several years ago that since her birth parents were friends with Lionel, they trusted that he would be able to better provide for her than they could.
Although Lionel and Branda Harvey eventually divorced in 1993, and Lionel ended up getting remarried, Nicole to this day, remains close with both of her adopted parents. That being said, she’s never really had a close relationship with her birth parents.
Growing up without her biological parents in her life wasn’t easy. In the beginning, it was hard for Lionel to earn Nicole’s trust, but he began to make inroads with her when he vowed that he would never abandon her. Even though the singer was at the peak of his solo musical career, Lionel was determined to create a stable life for little Nicole. She even inspired him to pen his hit song Ballerina Girl.
Lionel knew that Nicole had abandonment issues. She had been passed around to just about every relative in her family before she came to live with him. But he never once forgot about that promise that he had made to her. No matter what, Lionel wasn’t going to leave her.
Naturally, Nicole first doubted Lionel, but after witnessing time and time again that her adopted father always came back home to her, sometimes even after weeks or months of being on the road touring, she began to let her guard down and open up to him.
Karen Moss Meant Well
In her 2014 memoir, singer Sheila E. touched on Nicole’s adoption from her birth mother, Karen Moss’ perspective. According to her, as a single working mother who had just gone through a messy breakup, Karen was extremely grateful for the opportunity that Lionel had provided. She wanted the best for her daughter, and even though she was quite torn about letting her go, she knew that if Nicole kept living with Richie, then she would be able to earn enough for their future without needing to disrupt Nicole’s life.
Karen Moss and Nicole weren’t necessarily on bad terms during the adoption process, and Moss has continued to be in her daughter’s life at least in some capacity since then. Notably, she was there for Nicole in 2003 when she got arrested for heroin possession.
Talking about her struggles with drug abuse, Nicole told Diane Sawyer in 2007 that she started experimenting with dangerous drugs because she was bored. At that point, the Simple Life reality TV star felt like she had already seen and experienced everything and just wanted more.
“I kind of took matters into my own hands and was creating drama in very dangerous ways” Nicole admitted.
After Nicole received treatment for substance abuse, she met her future husband, Joel Madden, lead singer of the rock band Good Charlotte. The two have since had two children together. Nicole and Joel’s first child, Harlow, was born in January 2008. Not long after their daughter was born, Nicole gave birth to a son named Sparrow in September 2009. Just a few months later, the couple announced their engagement in February 2010. They got married later that year in December.
After becoming a mother, Nicole realized that she had to take care of herself and not return to reckless behavior – not only for her sake, but also for her children. Since becoming a mother, Nicole has steered clear of drugs and has really turned her life around.
So, even though she’s very publicly struggled with substance abuse and eating disorders in the past, Nicole is now happy, healthy, and determined to focus on her family. She might not have come from the most stable family situation, but the family she has now has helped keep her grounded and on the straight and narrow.
Becoming A Mom Changed Everything
After getting pregnant for the first time in 2008, Nicole has taken it upon herself to reconnect with her birth mother, Karen Moss. She’s also become closer with her adoptive father, Lionel.
While she was never close to her birth parents – especially her biological father – Nicole realized after becoming a mother that she no longer wanted to keep resenting them. In fact, she discovered that she wanted to somehow incorporate her birth parents back into her life if at all possible.
Not only did getting pregnant help Nicole realize that she wanted to rekindle her relationship with her birth parents, but the experience also helped her to develop her bond with her mother-in-law. Something about becoming a mother and bringing new life into the world made Nicole discover the value in reaching out to the previous generation – her biological parents included.
By letting go of past resentments, making peace, and forging new bonds, she was in fact preparing herself to be the very best mother that she could be.
A couple of decades ago, nobody would have suspected that Nicole Richie was going to turn out to be a beacon of hope and stability, but that’s precisely where her life has taken her. She has found stability and has provided her children with a loving, welcoming environment where they never doubt that they’re wanted.
Often people perpetuate cycles of toxicity, but for Nicole Richie, she’s learned from the past, moved on from the heartache she experienced as a child, and has done everything in her power to make sure that her family doesn’t resemble the broken one that she came from. She’s also made a conscious effort to keep her children out of the spotlight, which in our opinion, is a very wise move.
Today, she cherishes being a mother and is living proof that it’s never too late for anyone to turn their life around.
Nicole Richie’s life story is unexpectedly uplifting. Sure, she started out in a very difficult place, and no doubt felt strong feelings of abandonment after her parents gave her up for adoption, but despite a few rocky twists and turns that her life took in her 20s, Nicole has taken everything that she’s experienced and has succeeded in overcoming her hang-ups and inner demons.
It’s beautiful to see how her adoptive father, Lionel Richie, has never once given up on her – even during her darkest hours. It’s also encouraging to see how Nicole is now 100% committed to giving her own children a happy, healthy, and stable life.
We’re going to go ahead and wrap things up, but before you go, let your voice be heard in the comments. Did you know that Nicole Richie was adopted by Lionel Richie and that her birth parents gave her up when she was 3? Let us know. And as always, thanks for watching!