Lisa Vanderpump Opens Up About Adopted Son Max Todd

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Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Lisa Vanderpump is a mother to her daughter Pandora, who is 28, and her adopted son Max, who is 23. Vanderpump and her husband Ken Todd adopted Max from foster care in 1992 when he was just six weeks old. Lisa previously revealed that her decision to join the reality show was tough, because she knew there was a possibility Max’s biological parents would come forward.

“I adopted him from foster care and I really had to be on the same page as him in saying, ‘It’s possible that maybe your birth parents will come forward.’ But he’s 19 next month, and I just said, ‘You ready? Because we’re in a public arena and they might recognize us.’ But I’m very open about it. If I cry, I cry. If I laugh, I laugh,” Vanderpump said.

On this week’s episode of RHOBH, Max is getting more curious about his background, which brings up a lot of questions for Lisa too.

Looking through old photographs, Lisa reveals that Max recently came to her because he wanted to find out more about his heritage. She admits that it threw her for a loop and she wasn’t expecting it. Vanderpump tells her husband about a new kind of genetic testing where you can find out information about your heritage from swabbing your mouth and comparing your DNA to others in a database.

Ken asks Lisa what she would do if Max came forward and said he wanted to find his birth parents. Lisa says of course she would care, but knows that nobody can take Max from her after 22 years of being his mother.

Lisa also opened up about her journey of adopting Max in her blog this week. She writes:

“This episode we lightly touch on the issue of Max’s adoption. Now as many of you are aware, he has been rather resistant when it comes to being filmed too much. He is happy to do so if there are cameras and he is present, but this was different. This was a deep and poignant story, a story that started 22 years ago, when we went to visit him in his foster care home. We traveled and landed in the snowy city and met this little boy who would soon be our son.

We had always thought that we would adopt a couple of children. Ken had adopted one many years ago for his sister, who then became pregnant and now has four boys. So it wasn’t something strange to our family, and we were excited to embrace him to our loving home. Pandora was six and very much believed he would be her baby.

I think the perfect example of how relevant his adoption was happened one night when we came home from dinner, and a couple who had worked for us at the house for quite a few years by then said Max was acting up, being silly, and telling them how he was adopted, which they believed to be untrue. They would’ve never known, they said, he was the image of his father. My point being, it was never mentioned, it was never important. If he had questions, I answered them as simply as I could, so it was rather surprising when Max came to me and inquired about his genetic heritage.

I have never encouraged nor discouraged my children to display their lives on reality television. It was me that signed up for this, and if you remember Pandora’s wedding, it was filmed by us–no mics and then the footage was inserted into the episode. It was her day, and I maintained that it was her decision as to what was shown and that she was happy about it.

So I digress…Max was perfectly at ease to talk openly, and you will see how the story unfolds. I was unnerved for a second as the demand from the company was that I inserted his birth name. I had never uttered his name as I always believed it would be confusing for him to be faced with another identity, but he took all in his stride, and we proceeded with this process.

Are the children different to me? Do I love them differently? Is their a biological connection that makes a relationship stronger? I honestly don’t have the answer to that. All I know is I loved them both and we had a happy family. Their childhood was idyllic, full of ponies and dogs, extraordinary experiences coupled with tactile relationships and wonderful holidays, parents that loved the experience, parents that vowed never to disturb the harmonious life they had by involving our problems, whatever they were at the time. Sometimes as siblings they would fight. Pandora believed Max to be favored, as he was exempt from blame, because he was younger, but Max would say differently. It was a vibrant household with parents at the helm who loved their children’s friends and all that ensues with raising children. Yes, Max had to be pushed and encouraged much more than Pandora. I was very involved with my children’s education, even worked in their school in France a few days a week for three years, and I wouldn’t change a minute of it. Each child is different, each relationship varies, but one thing I know for sure is biology has little to do with emotional connections, of that Max and I are sure.”

Love my family! #pumprules

A photo posted by Pandora Vanderpump Sabo (@pandoravt) on

Photo Credit: Bravo/Instagram


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  • Paul

    Lisa its not as bad as it seems. As an adopted person I have to say its a piece to the missing puzzle when you find out your birth name and have the opportunity to search if you want to. I waited till I was 45 years old. The reunion was great and two years later I have a relationship with two sisters I never new and another adult woman who was my birth mother as a friend. It doesnt always work out wonderfully and there are concerns but your son has the right to know. If you dont tell him he will resent you for it. You will always be his mother. You are his mother. The other woman only brought him into this world you taught him about life. I wish you all the best your fabulous.

  • DebBrenn

    I wish I could find out Lisa was my mom. Not likely, since I’m older than her. 🙂

  • Andrea

    I think it’s weird she’s just now talking about this because Pandora is always with them. I believe Max doesn’t feel like he fits in with the family because he’s a musician and works at Sur. He seems fine I just couldn’t imagine living up to those high of standards.

    • DebBrenn

      I think boys are less likely to hang around with their parents as much as girls do as they hit their 20s.

    • JMMW

      Max didn’t really want to be on the show as he was going to some musical school at the start. He dropped out, he got a job at SUR and I think Lisa/Ken have did what any parent would do or say “Fine you don’t want to go to school, you waste our money, sort of, then you need to get a job. Oh you want to work at SUR? Sure, learn the business from the ground up. Only way to learn.” Max had some issues at one time getting into teenage stuff, maybe starting to experiment with drugs, and Lisa and Ken sent him to family/friends in the Mid-West to go to school. I honestly think she loves him just as much as Pandora but they are two very different kids and Pandora is six years older. That’s quite a difference for siblings. Plus they’re is a bond between mother/daughter and father/his little girl that is different than son which is also quite unique and strong. I’m guessing they are doing a wee bit of tough love with Max especially given he hasn’t followed through on his education and has a older girlfriend that I believe he lives with who also works at SUR. He seems to be a little aimless as someone his age may be but I’m sure Lisa doesn’t want him to turn into Tom 1 or Jax! LOL

  • jennyd

    He sure was a lucky baby to be adopted by Lisa and def was offered the best of everything. Loving family with lots of wealth…. yeah Max did well.

  • Karen

    I think it is different for every case, and it can be a positive ir a negative experience depending on the people involved, and just because you had a good experience does not mean the next person will. My best fried was adored and looked up her birth mother, found her and was violently rejected. It was shattering for my friend, who had a fairy-tale idea of a reunion in her mind before reality literally smacked her in the face. It was very traumatizing.

    • Karen

      Also- Max needs to be extra careful that his birth relatives do not try and use him to try and exploit him for the Vanderpump money and connections. It’s a harsh thing to say but it’s reality.

  • I’ve seen it said here that Max is working a lowly job at one of Lisa’s restaurants and that it differs from Pandy’s young life. I am the natural Mom to my kids and all of their relationships were different, including their’s with me. I do know Pandy worked in the restaurant for a long time, but she also went to college. Max, from what I read, didn’t want a college education. He will be a much better manager/owner of all of the businesses he will one day inherit because he has worked every job in them. A manager of a restaurant who has never washed the dishes or bussed the tables, or waited the tables has a slim chance of having the respect of anyone there. Her choice to have him learn the business from the ground up is not only what is best for the business, but best for him.

  • guest

    doesn’t matter your biological or adopted children who doesn’t want to study, better work.

  • Starr

    I feel with LVP. Max is her son since infancy. I feel with her as in my extended family, quite a few have adopted & loved as if they birthed them & we, the aunts & uncles, have also loved & embraced as our own, no difference. I feel with Max as well. He just wants to know his background, but he’ll always love the family he was brought up in. Blessings & good wishes to both sides.