Even in settings where talking, civilized, or funny animals exist, adoptions will still happen between parents and children. Some parents are caring enough to take in a child, regardless of their species. They may be animals raising a human child, humans raising an animal child, animals raising animals of a different species, or any combination of the three. It doesn't matter, as adoption is still adoption, and parents will always be parents. The subject of the adoption may or may not even be an issue among society. This is a supertrope of Raised by Wolves and Raised by Humans, as well as cases that aren't covered by either trope. It may also overlap with Moses in the Bulrushes and (especially in comic settings) Oblivious Adoption. Contrast Random Species Offspring when the child isn't just adopted - it's biological. As seen in the trope image there are numerous cases of this happening in real life among different animal species, even among animals that would normally eat one another. There are also many accounts, though few if any verified, of children while lost in the wilderness being protected or even raised by animals. Also given that humans are technically animals as well, raising pets also counts.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- The Legacy series from the Star Wars Expanded Universe introduces us to Nat Skywalker (one of Luke's descendents and Cade's uncle), his wife, and their three children. The youngest of the three is a Cathar boy (a feline-like race featured prominently in some other Expanded Universe works) whom they adopted after rescuing him from slavers. Awwww!.
- Hellboy is a demon who was adopted by a human parent named Dr. Bruttenholm and raised under the watch of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. He was raised to appreciate humanity, even if he constantly has to deal with the fact that he's frighteningly different from them anyway.
- Superman is probably the most famous example of this trope. He's an alien sent to Earth as a baby, and he grew up on a farm by the Kent family.
- And later, Lois Lane would fulfill this trope when she and Clark become the foster parents of Chris, another Kryptonian child.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: four adorable baby turtles fall into a sewer and are adopted by an ordinary rat (other than the whole "knows ninjutsu" thing). Only later do the five mutate and become intelligent.
- Red Tornado, an android, has an adopted human daughter named Traya.
- In the old print furry comic Havoc Inc Chester (ringtail cat) and Deck (canid) adopted a mouse girl.
- In Diaries of a Madman, Navarone (a human) ends up adopting Taya (a unicorn) as his daughter.
- This is recurrent in the Gensokyo 20XX series, with Reimu, Renko, and Maribel (formerly human) being adopted by Yukari (a reality warping yokai) and Chen (Nekomata) and Marisa (formerly human) being adopted by Ran and, later on, Ren (Kitsune). In that vein, we have Ran being adopted by Yukari.
- It's not the Raptor DNA: Rexy the Tyrannosaurus Rex has adopted Elise (an Indominus Rex) and Tim (a human, and the same one she terrorized during the events of the first film) as her children.
- The Rise Of Darth Vulcan: During the raid on Cirrus and Hilltop, one of Vulcan's Diamond Dog mooks decides to adopt an Earth pony foal as her own. Vulcan isn't happy about this, but caves when both dog and foal give him Puppy-Dog Eyes, caving to their combined cuteness.
- The Equestrian Wind Mage: A key point of the story is Vaati (a Hylian/Minish/Demon thing) adopting Scootaloo (a pony). Both are incredibly happy with this setup.
- The many, many fics about Fluttershy adopting a non-pony child, usually a baby Changeling or orphaned human.
- Many other My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfics, including The Nuptialverse, have Twilight (a unicorn) adopting Spike (a dragon), whom she had hatched when she was younger.
- Seven Days In Sunny June: Discussed in 7SDJ: A Mother's Duty by Celestia and Twilight Velvet, and explicitly identified as being against the law in Equestria, barring "mitigating and emergent circumstances", which "shall only be considered on a need by need basis". Celestia herself admits that she didn't write the law and should have checked more closely before it was made official; the only reason she hasn't changed it since is because it would be seen as a "gross abuse of the law" and a conflict of interest, since it would have cleared the way for her to adopt Sunset Shimmer, or Twilight Velvet and Night Light (as the parents of her personal student) to adopt Spike.
- In First Meetings Universe — a Mass Effect-MLP:FiM crossover — Mass Effect: Shepard and the Rainbows starts with a pegasus soldier saving a human girl from pirates and then adopting her. Thus Riley Shepard, Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo end up being sisters.
- In the Transformers Prime fanfic, Suddenly, Shattered Glass versions of Arachnid and Breakdown adopt a preschool June when she becomes the Sole Survivor of an Autobot attack in Jasper, Nevada.
- Actually subverted in A Hollow In Equestria where Princess Luna proposes invoking this trope for Ulquiorra Cifer's benefit. It's eventually revealed that he turns down the offer, explaining that it would create more problems than it would be worth.
Films — Animation
- Kung Fu Panda:
- Aladar from Dinosaur is an Iguanodon raised by lemurs.
- Most of Leafie, a Hen into the Wild revolves around a hen and her Happily Adopted son (a duck).
- Frozen has Kristoff (a human) and Sven (a reindeer) adopted by the trolls (who are essentially living rocks with magical abilities).
- Eggs from The Boxtrolls is a Cheesebridge orphan raised since infancy by the eponymous Boxtrolls, to the point that for a long time he thinks he is one.
- In You Are Umasou, a Maiasaura raises a Tyrannosaurus from birth, who in turn, after running away from home, adopts a baby Ankylosaurus after being mistaken for its father.
- Ellie from Ice Age 2: The Meltdown is a mammoth who was adopted by a possum. She even thinks that she's a possum until Manny can convince her that she's a mammoth.
Films — Live-Action
- In Guardians of the Galaxy, Terran Peter Quill was adopted by Centaurian Yondu Udonta. It's revealed that Yondu was actually hired to take Peter to his dad, but decided Peter would be better off with the Ravagers than Peter's Jerkass real father.
- The Stuart Little movie did this to remove the Fridge Logic from the original book (where the titular mouse character just had human parents for no apparent reason). This verges on Ascended Fanon, as E.B. White received letters from adoptive children for years talking about how Stuart was a wonderful allegory for the way they felt... despite White having no such intentions, and Stuart explicitly being Mr. and Mrs. Little's biological son in the book.
- Disney's The Ugly Dachshund. A Great Dane thinks he's a dachshund because he was raised by a dachshund mother.
- In Thor, a character turns out to be an Ice Giant adopted by Odin and raised as his own under a glamour. This is actually based on the original myth, in which he was found in a giant stronghold as an infant and brought home by Odin to foster.
- Elf: Buddy is a human adopted by Santa Claus, and raised among elves.
- In Babe, Babe the pig is adopted by Fly who is a dog.
- In the Discworld novel Guards! Guards!, Carrot is a human adopted by dwarves. He is completely oblivious to this, even when his adoptive father tries to explain that there's a reason he was always too tall to fit in dwarf passages correctly. Notable in that even after it's been explained to him and he's accepted that he is biologically a human, Carrot still considers himself a dwarf, albeit a very tall one. Though, in Discworld being 'a dwarf' is as much a matter of cultural identity than it is a fact of one's species.
- "The Ugly Duckling" is a classic example of this trope. A swan raised by a duck.
- RuneScape: Betrayal at Falador, Kara was adopted and raised by dwarfs.
- The children's book Tyranosaurus Drip by Julia Donaldson is about a duckbill dinosaur "adopted" by tyrannosaurs. (Mother Tyranosaur can't count, and doesn't realise there's one more egg than there should be.)
- The Sheep-Pig by Dick King-Smith, the book Babe was based on, has Babe raised by Fly the sheepdog.
- In Team Human, Kit is a teenager raised by a family of vampires; he's spent very little time around non-vampire humans.
- Galaxy of Fear has Hoole, a Shi'ido Shape Shifter, adopt the human kids Tash and Zak. He's actually their uncle, since his brother married one of their aunts, and Shi'ido culture encourages him to take them in despite barely knowing them.
- The X-wing series gives us Viull "Skut" Gorsat, a Yuuzhan Vong abandoned by his biological parents and adopted by a human family. His human dad is the reason he joins Wraith Squadron, because as a child he was told stories of how they rescued his father.
- There is also Tahiri Veila, who was adopted by the Sand People.
- And let's not forget Han Solo himself also falls into this category. He had been orphaned at a very young age, and while working for a rather nasty thief, he gets taken in and cared for by a kindly, elderly female Wookie. Han even comments in a later novel that due to the love she gave him, and the fact that Chewie and other Wookies have saved his skin on countless occasions, he feels he owes the Wookie's a life debt, not the other way around.
- This comes up in The Demon's Lexicon when Nick is revealed to be a demon, raised mostly by his brother Alan.
- In Spectrum by Sergey Lukyanenko the human heronote ends up adopting a teenage alien bird-girl as a "reward" for saving her life. His Love Interest cracks jokes about an "interplanetary paedophile", but demonstrates that she can be a capable mother, despite being in her late teens herself. The adopted girl turns out to be the Chosen One prophecised to wake her planet from its millennia-long Diesel Punk stasis where rigid laws allow the population not to think. She ends up becoming the queen equivalent and legally adult and staying home.
- In the 1920s Winnie-the-Pooh books, Tigger (a Tiger toy) lives with Kanga and Roo (Kangaroo toys) and is considered part of the family.
- In the Warrior Cats novella Hollyleaf's Story, Hollyleaf attempts this for a day or so with a fox cub lost in the tunnel, finding it and caring for it before later bringing it back outside. She encounters it a year later and happily greets it, only to find that it does not remember her and it attacks her.
- In Brimstone Angels, heroine Farideh and her twin sister Havilar are tieflingsnote who were adopted and raised by a dragonborn named Mehen.
- Horton Hatches The Egg twists this trope due to the story's Anvilicious theme of nurture overcoming nature. Since Horton took responsibility for the egg that Mayzie abandoned, the chick finally hatches as an elephant-bird hybrid, and identifies Horton as its parent, rejecting Mayzie.
- Worf was adopted by the Rozhenko family, a human couple from Russia. In turn, Worf's son Alexander Rozhenko was also raised by Worf's adoptive parents.
- Super Mario Bros.:
- Mallow from Super Mario RPG, originally from Nimbus Land, was adopted by Frogfucius in Frog Pond, and grew up largely believing he was a frog "who can't jump".
- Introduced in Super Mario Galaxy, Rosalina is the adoptive mother of the Lumas, the star babies. Despite the massive difference between them, they live very happily under the care of their "Mama".
- Adell in Disgaea 2 is a demon adopted by humans as a result of his biological parents leaving to fight fake Zenon. They fail.
- Penn in Soul Nomad is adopted by the Nereids. This is part of a breeding plan when he turns 18.
- F-Zero's Leon, depending on the game (although both examples still fit). In X, he's adopted by Mrs. Arrow and her husband Super Arrow, a crime-fighting superhero couple. According to GX, however, he was instead adopted by Fable, a soldier belonging to the race that attacked Leon's homeworld twelve years ago (which led to the poor kid losing his parents and his left eye, as well as Zou becoming an economical dump) who rebelled when he became disgusted by their tactics. Leon's a bipedal cat-like alien, the Arrows are human, and Fable is another species of extraterrestrial being.
- After the Time Skip in Final Fantasy VI, the half-human, half-Esper Terra is shown to have adopted some children from Mobliz whose parents were killed by Kefka's Light of Judgment.
- At the end of Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, the last remaining Maenad is adopted by Rydia and christened Cuore. This is a bit of an ambiguous example as the Maenads are a race of Artificial Humans made in Rydia's image by The Creator.
- Near the end of Mass Effect 3, a female Commander Shepard can discuss this idea with Garrus if his romance sidequest was completed.
- The Codex indicates that the asari once attempted to "civilize" the vorcha, a race known for their savagery and unpredictability, by adopting vorcha orphans and raising them in asari society. The adopted Vorcha lived peaceful and happy lives, showing that their species' predisposition for violence was cultural rather than innate, but the fact that Vorcha only live for 20 years while Asari live for over 1000 meant that few asari were willing to painstakingly raise many generations just to watch them die.
- After her parents were killed by Space Pirates, Samus Aran was adopted by the Chozo, an ancient race of bird-like creatures that raised her and trained her to be what she is.
- In Devil May Cry 2, a big deal is made out of Lucia being a flawed demonic construct of Arius instead of Matier's biological daughter. After going through a Heroic BSOD and struggling with the ramifications of her true nature for a bit, Matier comforts Lucia and outright tells her, "You are my daughter." This gives Lucia the strength to carry on and break out of her Cloning Blues complex.
- Neverwinter Nights 2. The protagonist's race can change, but the foster father is always the same.
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:
- Tales of Symphonia: The main character Lloyd is a human who was adopted by a dwarf. Lloyd turns out to be half angel.
- In the "Revenge of Queen Worm" section of the game, it turns out that 'Rachel' is a giant mutant worm that David (human) raised as his daughter. She even calls him "Grandpa" after you defeat her. It's all very strange.
- We're never told if Eriko and her dad are related by blood, but given that there's no indication of said character being anything other than human, and that their parent definitely isn't...
- Breath of Fire IV has Ursula, who was raised by a human General.
- In Undertale, the motherly goat-monster Toriel hopes to adopt you after you fall into the Underground. It is later revealed that she and her then-husband Asgore adopted another human child who fell in a long time ago; the death of both the human child and their biological son Asriel was what kicked off the plot and led to their separation. If the player goes the route of the True Pacifist, in the ending you'll be able to tell Toriel that you want to stay with her, and she'll adopt you for real.
- Cloudscratcher: Felix (a cat) was adopted by the Captain (a dog).
- Lindesfarne in Kevin & Kell, a hedgehog adopted by a rabbit.
- The trolls in Homestuck. It's societal norm for them to be raised by another species. However, these guardians may or may not be totally sentient, and not all of them are good parents, so it also delves a bit into Raised by Wolves.
- Selkie is about an amphibious young girl, and the man who adopts her.
- Buwaro, Sakido and Iratu, all demons, are adopted by the angel Darius in Slightly Damned.
- The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! — Molly the Peanut Butter Monster was raised by Bob. She's currently staying with Jean, who considers herself Molly's mother because they share a little bit of genetic material.
- In Sheldon, Flaco the lizard became the adopted son of Arthur, a duck, after a mistaken egg-hatching.
- In Ozy and Millie, Ozy (a fox) is the adopted son of Llewellyn (a dragon).
- Furthia High has Cale, the last known human on earth adopted by an anthropomorphic cat and a tigress.
- In Urban Jungle sole human character Zack was quite literally Raised by Wolves, and his brother Chuck is a sheep.
- Tessa (fox) of S.S.D.D was adopted by a family of rats. Which might be one of the reasons she always felt like an outcast.
- King Zahard from Tower of God adopts his daughters purely based on looks and ability, so there are some of his daughters who aren't Human.
- Neo Kosmos is about human kids raised from infancy by aliens in solitary confinement in a space station After the End.
- Quite a few characters from Cerberus Daily News. Thus includes (but is not limited to) a Turian who was adopted by a human couple (Gahars Patnus), a human who was adopted by an Asari couple (Some_Random_Merc/Johnny), a Drell who has recently adopted a human infant (Rohim), a human whose legal guardian and father-figure is a Turian (Wildflower/Flower and Davril, respectively), and a human who was raised by a Quarian (Human Quarian/Kolya).
- In Yandere High School, Taurtis adopts PufferFishPete's children because Pete thinks his children are weak.
- Rocko's Modern Life: Heffer was raised by wolves. The Wolfe family to be specific. They were just going to eat him, and started fattening him up, but grew to love him and raised him as their own. The "birthmark" on his rump is where the wolves were going to divide him up.
- SpongeBob SquarePants:
- SpongeBob and Patrick adopted a baby scallop in one episode. It left other citizens quite confused when they thought about the biology involved.
- Mr Krabs is a crab however his daughter Pearl is a whale. It's never specified if she is adopted or not though, and at least one line implies otherwise.
- Dinosaur Train: Buddy the T-Rex is adopted by a pteranodon family.
- CatDog continually brought up one particular issue over the course of the series: Where did CatDog actually come from? For as long as they can remember, they'd always lived on their own. The series ended with CatDog going on a long journey to find their parents. It was never revealed how CatDog came to be, but for a brief time after they were born, they had been raised by a frog for a father and a sasquatch for a mother. They were all separated in a storm.
- Darwin from The Amazing World of Gumball used to just be the Watetrson family's pet fish, but he developed intelligence, grew legs, became Gumball's best friend, and the family adopted him as one of their own. The parallel to real life interracial adoption is made especially obvious by how both of Darwin's voice actors are black, but the ones for the rest of the family are white.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Twilight Sparkle (a unicorn) had to induce a dragon egg to hatch as part of her entrance exam in magic school. She ends up being a Cool Big Sis/Parental Substitute to him, who serves as her underling and assistant. Word of God says that it was actually Princess Celestia who raised Spike after he hatched, while Twilight continued her studies. Still fits the trope.
- Buzz Lightyear of Star Command probably topped this concept beyond most other examples by having a human girl being adopted by two robots.
- On Adventure Time, Finn is possibly the last real human in Ooo. He was found in a forest by a pair of talking dogs, who raised him until their deaths (when Finn's adopted brother, Jake, was apparently Promoted To Parent).
- Young Justice has M'gann, a Martian, become Blood Sister to Garfield, only to get Promoted To Parent when his mother is killed by Queen Bee.
- Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat: One episode featured a dog adopted by a couple of cats.
- In Rocky and Bullwinkle Peabody adopts Sherman from an Orphanage of Fear.
- In an episode, Todd and his friends try to help a lost platypus named Pedro find his mother. They all think that Pedro's mother is a platypus like him, but at the end, they find out that she's actually a kangaroo. We also learn that Pedro has a pig for a little brother. In the same episode, Todd sees a frog in a family of ducks.
- There's also a cat named Mitzi that adopts a group of puppies.
- This trope pops up from time to time in Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends:
- We learn from a flashback that Miss. Spider was separated from her mother when she was just a child and she got adopted by Betty Beetle.
- In the pilot film, Miss. Spider adopted three children, each from a different bug species; Dragon (a dragonfly, Shimmer (a jewel beetle), and Bounce (a bedbug).
- The two episodes "Little Ladybug Lost" and "A Beetle-ful Family" center around a young Asian ladybug named Grace who was separated from her family due to her oversleeping during her winter nap, and she winds up being adopted by Stinky the stinkbug and his sister Whiffy.
- In Polish animated series Miedzy Nami Bocianami (Between Us Storks) main characters are a family of storks that adopted a cuckoo. In a sense all cuckoos are adopted (although not by storks) so it's not so weird.
- Lambert the Sheepish Lion is a short where the Delivery Stork accidentally gives a sheep a lion cub for a child. When the stork tries to take him back the sheep refuses and she ends up raising the lion as her own. They're a happy family but Lambert is bullied by the lambs for being seen as a weird looking sheep, until as an adult he saves his mother from a wolf and becomes seen as a hero.
- Neither of Elyon's parents in Witch are human however they pass themselves as human. She didn't know that she was adopted until the Big Bad revealed her parents true forms.
- Real Life examples involving animals like dogs, cats, and rabbits are a mainstay of websites like Cute Overload.
- One of the strangest incidents of this kind occurred in Samburu, Kenya: a lioness adopted an oryx.
- It didn't live long. The lioness, overcome with grief, decided to separate another oryx from its herd and adopt that one. It promptly died too. This went on almost a half-dozen times, with the lioness consistently preventing the baby oryxes from reuniting with their own kind. The story really isn't as cute as it initially seems.
- A crow adopts a cat
- In real life, baboons will kidnap puppies from mother dogs and raise them as guard dogs. The baboons even treat them like humans do!
- Many people view their pets as adopted family members, especially animals such as dogs or cats. Some go as far as using babytalk and other baby-associated behavior with them.
- There's a woman called Marina Chapman, now living in England, who claims she was kidnapped as a young child in Colombia, abandoned in the jungle, and taken in by a troop of colobus monkeys with whom she lived for five years.
- A fairly common tactic for wildlife rescue organizations and zoos is to "foster" orphaned or abandoned wild animal babies to domesticated "parents". Numerous fox kits have been raised by dogs or cats for instance.
- This◊ Bad Habits strip, which is also an Oblivious Adoption.
- There is a famous joke about a turtle which constantly climbs up a tree and jumps down with its legs spread. After a few attempts (and the turtle getting quite a few traumas), a bird watching it from nearby asks its mate, "Should we tell our son he's adopted?"