Nicole Richie’s biological parents: Her upbringing detailed

Nicole Richie has made no secret of her adoptive upbringing: she was legally adopted by Lionel Richie and his ex-wife Brenda Harvey when she was nine, seven years after the couple became her guardians. In a candid interview with People, Lionel opened up about Nicole’s impact on his life:

“Nicole was actually a godsend. She was a little girl who needed a shot. She was used to people coming and going. She looked at me and I’d say, ‘I’m not going anywhere.’”

Nicole ended up in the Richie household because of financial and relationship issues faced by her biological parents, Peter Michael Escovedo and Karen Moss. 

Richie’s biological mother revealed the decision to let go of Nicole was painful

Peter Michael Escovedo grew up around music: his father was Latin percussionist Pete Escovedo, and his sister was occasional Prince collaborator Sheila E. Michael also worked with Lionel Richie, briefly touring with the singer as part of his band. 

Escovedo met Karen Moss as she worked as a backstage assistant for Sheila E. The pair started dating, and on 21st September 1981, they welcomed Nicole Escovedo into the world. 

Unfortunately, Karen and Michael lacked stability, forcing Nicole to live with relatives for most of her young life. Lionel said he decided to care for Nicole after watching her play the tambourine at a Prince concert. Richie told Piers Morgan:

“I went backstage and I knew the mother and I knew the father and, of course, they were having difficulties with their relationship.”

“I said, ‘While you are having the difficulty, the kid is sitting out here in limbo so I’ll tell you what I’ll do, just put the kid in my house until the tour is over with and then we will sort this out later.’”

Lionel opined that life on the road wasn’t conducive for a toddler. “We [were] a little worried that the little kid can’t go on tour because a 2-year-old needs to be stationary,” Riche told Huffington Post

As time went by, Lionel and his ex-wife Brenda Harvey became Nicole’s legal guardians. The rapidly deteriorating relationship between Nicole’s biological parents convinced Lionel to keep Nicole. 

“So it took about maybe a year for me to just fall in love and she was a little button, and of course by that time I was Dad,” Lionel told Piers Morgan. 

Giving up Nicole was the right decision, but it wasn’t easy. In her memoir The Book of My Own Drum, Sheila E. wrote:

“The heartbreaking part is that once Nicole Escovedo legally became Nicole Richie, it felt like we lost her. We all lost her.”

Nicole reconnected with her parents after getting pregnant

Nicole and her biological mother didn’t split on bad terms: Karen was a constant presence in Nicole’s life, but Lionel handled most of the parenting.

After Nicole’s arrest due to heroin possession and the realization she had a substance abuse problem, Karen helped rehabilitate her daughter. Lionel Richie told NBC News:

“This is a family problem. And regardless of the fame and the fortune we were going to in as a family, and we’re going to recover as a family. And of course, she did a great job.”

After getting pregnant with her first child, Nicole resolved to build a stronger bond with her biological parents. She told Diane Sawyer:

“Change is all about making a decision to change, and you have to start somewhere. So for me to say I’m a completely different person, I don’t know right now. But I’ve made the decision to not let myself go and I’m working toward that.”

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