by Rachel Schindler
Rock legend Rod Stewart is expecting his eighth child early next year with Penny Lancaster, his third wife. When it comes to marriage and family, the music superstar’s longtime views may have been best reveled when he told the Sunday Star Times in 2007, “Instead of getting married again, I’m going to find a woman I don’t like and just give her a house.”
Stewart’s recent decision to reconnect with his oldest child, a daughter he gave up for adoption in 1964 when he was a broke teenager struggling onto the music scene, may be causing many to take another look at the rock star’s commitment to family. News of Stewart’s public embrace of Sarah Streeter, the now 47 year old woman who spent her first five years in foster care and children’s homes before being adopted by Gerald and Evelyn Thubron.
Like Sarah, many adopted children continue to yearn for knowledge and connection of their birth parents long into adulthood. A study by the Search Institute found that 54 percent of adopted adolescents wanted to reunite with their birth parents, 72 percent wanted to know why they were adopted, and 94 percent wanted to know which birth parent they favored. Most will never find those answers, but Sarah Streeter’s recent story is likely to encourage many to actively continue their search.
Streeter said she learned about her famous biological father when she turned 18. “Of course I was amazed to discover my dad was Rod Stewart and couldn’t believe it at first. But I decided I wanted to meet him. Now I wish I hadn’t,” she told a British tabloid years ago.
“It became clear he only agreed to meet me under pressure. It was uncomfortable for both of us,” Streeter said at the time. “My mom asked me if he might hug me but he didn’t. I felt like a fan, not someone with blood ties. I never expected him to be a proper dad. But I hoped we could have developed a friendship. More than anything I want him to acknowledge me, not talk in interviews about his six children.”
After both of Streeter’s adopted parents died, Stewart reached out to his biological daughter.
“Since her mom and dad have died, we’ve tried to come together and be close together, and it’s working out pretty well,” Stewart said recently. “I never felt like I was her dad, because I didn’t take her to school, change her nappies, there was no paternal thing there, but I’m trying.”
Streeter also says she and Rod Stewart are growing closer together. Besides spending time hanging out with her birth father, Streeter says she’s met some of her half-siblings for the first time.
“There’s no anger there. I never was angry about what happened really, just sad,” Streeter said recently. “But now I’m older I see things differently and realize that it has been as difficult for him over the years as it has been for me. Now we’re at the start of a new chapter, and that’s wonderful.”
Growing up as an adopted child I often fanaticized that my biological parents were famous actors, artists or rock stars. Like Sarah, I was given the opportunity to reunite with my birth family and while they were not the famous politicians or rock stars I once imagined, reuniting with them was still a once in a lifetime opportunity that I hope other adopted individuals have the chance to experience.
Rachel Schindler, a member of PAIRS Foundation’s research and grant support team, earned her BA in Psychology and Sociology. She is workin