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Leni Klum turns 20: her adorable relationship with father Seal

How Heidi Klum's daughter formed an unshakable bond with now-adopted father Seal

Bryony Gooch
US Writer
May 4, 2024
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Heidi Klum's daughter Leni has a lot to celebrate as she turns 20 years old, as she's certainly made waves in her  modeling career. It's no doubt she'll be spending the day with her family and friends, and maybe her adoptive father Seal, whom Heidi was married to from 2005 to 2014. 

Seal and Leni have a close bond, with the "Kiss From A Rose" singer regularly talking about how proud he is of her. As she turned 19, Seal took to Instagram to explain: "In NY with the young woman who changed my life for the better 19 years ago. Thank you Leni for making me a better person".

Seal adopted Leni in 2009, and the story of how he came into her life will melt your heart. Here's everything you need to know about Leni's relationship with Seal.

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Leni's birth

Leni's tribute to Seal on his birthday© @leniklum Instagram Story
Leni's tribute to Seal on his birthday

The story of Leni's paternity is an interesting one: famously, Heidi was dating businessman Flavio Briatore in 2003, announcing her pregnancy in December of that year. Soon after, the couple split and the supermodel was connected to Seal, who was present when she gave birth in May 2004 to Leni.

"Seal is Leni's father", Heidi said plainly, making it clear that Flavio would have no role in the little one's life. 

The singer reflected on connecting early on with Leni, telling E!: "It's everything and it has always been like that, from the day I met her mother", adding: "She was two weeks pregnant with this beautiful lady. We have always had that bond."

Taking on the role of father

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 08:  Singer Seal and Heidi Klum tend to Heidi's daughter, Leni, while watching Amelie Mauresmo of France play Maria Sharapova of Russia in the women's semi-final at the U.S. Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park on September 8, 2006 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)© Matthew Stockman
Seal and Heidi tend to Leni in 2006 at the U.S. Open

Seal dismissed early on the idea that Flavio's paternity might cause issues: "To me, it’s irrelevant. Anyone can father a child. Big deal. Raising the child is the key", he said in 2007.

"Flavio has no contact with Leni", he added. "That’s not because he’s a bad person. I actually think he’s great in many ways, because a selfish man might want to disrupt the child’s set-up, and he’s clearly not a selfish man. He obviously sees the set-up and leaves it alone."

Seal adopts Leni

Leni looks adoringly at Seal© @leniklum Instagram Story
Leni looks adoringly at Seal

When Leni was five years old, Seal formally adopted her. Flavio 'calmly' agreed with Seal and Heidi that the adoption made sense so she could "grow up in a family", he told Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera in 2016. 

Flavio allowed for Leni's name to be changed, so her name became Helene Samuel, reflecting the singer's surname (his real name is Henry Samuel), although she goes by Leni Olumi Klum professionally.


Seal with his four children and girlfriend Laura Strayer © Monica Schipper
Seal with his four children and girlfriend Laura Strayer

Not only is Seal the doting father of Leni, but he shares three other children with Heidi: Henry, Johan and Lou. But as Seal and Heidi filed for divorce in 2012, finalizing in 2014, co-parenting has not always been easy.

"It can be challenging", Seal told UsWeekly. It requires teamwork. If you are a team, if both parents are a team, then it is really easy and that's not a real challenge at all."

"But you have to be a team. And if you're not a team, then it can all fall to pieces."

Pride in his daughter

TOPSHOT - British singer Seal (R) and US model Leni Olumi Klum arrive for the Los Angeles Special Screening of Netflix's "The Harder They Fall" at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, October 13, 2021. (Photo by Chris DELMAS / AFP) (Photo by CHRIS DELMAS/AFP via Getty Images)© CHRIS DELMAS
Seal is close with daughter Leni

Since turning 16, Leni has followed in her mom's footsteps and strutted down the runway as a model. But while some parents might have their reservations about their teenagers entering such a brutal industry, Seal has openly shown his pride in Leni.

He explained that he is "so proud of everything that Leni has done", and he's "more proud of everything that she is".

"She walks through life with this type of humility that allows her to move so gracefully through it all and she has an innate understanding of people in general and people’s feelings", he continued. "So I’m kind of more impressed with everything that she is."

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