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Former President of the United States, Barack Obama (b. 1961) was in kinship care as a child.  

Barack Obama was born in Hawaii to a mother from Kansas and a father from Kenya. His mother’s family moved to the island state so that their daughter could attend college. His parents divorced when he was two years old.  

Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham (1942-1995), later married an Indonesian man named Lolo Soetoro who was studying abroad in Honolulu. The couple took Obama to live with them in Indonesia when he was six. Obama’s sister, Maya, was born in Indonesia. Dunham taught English and worked in rural development and microfinance projects while Obama attended local schools in Jakarta. 

At the age of ten, Obama returned to Hawaii to live with his grandparents, Stanley and Madelyn Dunham, while attending the prestigious Punahou School on a scholarship. Dunham later returned to Hawaii to earn a Masters degree in anthropology. Obama then lived with his mother and sister for three years. He returned to live with his grandparents while his mother did fieldwork in Indonesia. 

Obama left home to earn a bachelor degree in political science and international relations from Columbia University. After university, he moved to Chicago to work in community development by working with churches to set up job-training programmes and improve housing conditions in communities suffering after the closure of steel mills. 

Obama went to Harvard Law School, where he became the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review. Obama then returned to Chicago where he taught at the University of Chicago, and began his political career in the Illinois State Senate and the United States Senate. 

Obama married Michelle Robinson, a lawyer he met while attending Harvard. The couple had two daughters, Malia and Sasha, who were born while Obama was serving in the Illinois State Senate. Obama credits his grandparents, a blue-collar couple with a generosity of spirit, with instilling in him the values of optimism and dedication to the community. 

On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama became the first African American President of the United States, winning more votes than any previous candidate in history. He served two terms as the 44th President between 2009 and 2017. Obama is credited with reforming the healthcare system to provide coverage to twenty million previously uninsured Americans, revitalizing the American auto industry to create the longest stretch of job creation ever recorded, and coordinating global action against climate change. 

In times of great challenge and change, President Obama’s leadership ushered in a stronger economy, a more equal society, a nation more secure at home and more respected around the world (The Office of Barack and Michelle Obama).


“About the Office.” The Office of Barack and Michelle Obama. 

“Barack Obama.” The White House. 

Nelson, Michael. “Barak Obama: Life Before the Presidency.” UVA Miller Centre. 

Scott, Janny. “The ‘Singular Woman’ Who Raised Barack Obama.” NPR Author Interviews, 3 May 2011. 

Image available here.