Adoptions With Love Blog

American Idol’s McKenna Breinholt Adoption Story

The latest season of American Idol has begun, and audiences around the country are thrilled to follow the latest gaggle of talent as they take center stage. Fans who have been touched by adoption will be particularly interested in this season’s contestants, as one of them has a heartwarming adoption story of her own. During her audition, aspiring singer McKenna Breinholt shared that she was adopted as a baby. Not only did the audience get to hear about her adoption story, but they got to witness a real-life, heartfelt reunion with McKenna’s birth family – captured on camera.

Season 7 of American Idol on ABC (season 22 for the show’s overall run) premiered on February 18, 2024. Longtime Host Ryan Seacrest returned, along with celebrity judges and recording solo artists Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan.

Whether you are a fan of American Idol or you have been touched by adoption (or both!) read on. Here we will share McKenna Breinholt’s adoption story that may move you to tears.

A Lifetime of Love, Music, and Adoption

“I found out I was adopted as early as I was able to understand it.”

This American Idol adoption story is one for the record books. McKenna Breinholt stepped into the audition room with hopes of becoming the next star. As she spoke about herself, Katy Perry asked if music ran in the family. This is when McKenna shared that she was adopted as a baby.

“My mom struggled for several years trying to get pregnant and, eventually, they decided to go through the adoption process,” McKenna explained.

Adoption has been a positive experience for McKenna.

“I have the best family in the world. They’ve always supported me,” she said.

Searching for a Different Tune

While McKenna always had the love and support of her family, she had underlying questions about her birth family.

“When I turned 21, I sat my parents down and asked them to tell me any information they had on my birth mom,” McKenna said. “I just wanted to know where I came from.”

This is a common desire for anyone, whether or not they have been adopted. Understanding one’s background and family history is a core element of self-identity for many people. Finding birth parents is important for some adopted children.

Most adoptions today are open adoptions, meaning there is ongoing communication between birth and adoptive families. However, McKenna Breinholt’s adoption was closed for many years. She did not have contact with her birth mother.

McKenna’s adoptive parents were always open and honest with their daughter. They learned that her birth mother – Amy Ross Lopez – had passed away. With this information, McKenna learned that her birth mother, too, had been a musician. She used to perform with her band just a few hours away from where McKenna lived.

“It was a lot to process but I instantly knew where I got my ear from and where I got my voice from. It just all clicked,” McKenna shared.

Katy Perry’s question was answered. Music does run in her birth family.

A Reunion, with a Surprising Remix

McKenna explained to the American Idol judges that she had recently contacted her birth family and found out “they all sing.”

“My birth family was looking for me for probably the last eight years,” McKenna explained. “Knowing I have another family out there who’s equally excited to know and love me was amazing.”

McKenna and her adoptive family had plans to meet the Lopez family – her grandmother, aunts, and uncle – just a few weeks after her American Idol audition. What McKenna did not know was that, while she was singing for the judges, Ryan Seacrest was just outside of the room with her adoptive and birth families. McKenna’s adoptive parents had invited her birth family to the American Idol set, to help celebrate this milestone.

After McKenna finished singing, Katy Perry suggested she invite her family into the room for the judging portion of the audition. When she opened the door, she saw everyone who loved her the most – birth family and adoptive family – and she broke down in (happy) tears.

McKenna and her birth family embraced. The instant connection was obvious, even for viewers. For anyone who experiences a search and reunion, this is an emotional moment that is life changing.

“Music is connection, music is emotion, music is heart,” Katy Perry said to McKenna. “You’re not the only person out there that’s searching for their birth family. There’s hundreds and thousands and tens of thousands are watching this right now that are going ‘Me, too! Me, too!’ you know? And it’s wonderful to have them all together… It’s so wonderful for your mom and dad to see this and to be so open and loving and supportive [of] this.”

McKenna’s mother was particularly moved by the reunion, noting the striking resemblance between McKenna and her birth mom, Amy. They even had similar singing voices. The entire birth family was stunned when McKenna performed one of Amy’s songs for them—a song she had memorized after learning about her birth mother’s music.

“I’m sure there was a big loss for your birth family, and for you to sing like that, I think it’s healing,” Katy Perry said as everyone nodded in agreement.

Ending on a High Note

McKenna had more happy news during her American Idol audition. The judges unanimously agreed that McKenna had earned her “ticket to Hollywood.”

“McKenna, Amy Ross Lopez told me to tell you ‘Yes,’” Katy Perry said.

McKenna’s audition segment ended with a video clip of her birth mother performing years ago. It served as a beautiful tribute to the woman who so lovingly placed her daughter for adoption.

The McKenna Breinholt adoption story is a beautiful, true story about love, devotion, and the positive power of adoption reunions. If you would like to learn more about adoption, call 800-722-7731, text 617-777-0072, or contact Adoptions With Love online.