Adoptees, You are so Much More than Adoption

If you have breath, you have purpose. I love this quote! I don’t know who originally coined it, but I’m glad that they did because it’s true. If you are breathing, you are living, and that means you have a calling. A unique and individual purpose to carry out in this life.

We’re in the last month of 2019 and I want to remind you that you’re here for a reason. Finding that reason is what the journey of living is all about. Our ability to stay hungry on the hunt for our purpose is the challenge. So many things in life can dull our palates.

I recently spoke with Kevin Hofmann, author of the memoir Growing Up Black in White. Kevin is a transracial adoptee who writes and speaks about the challenges and the gifts of being adopted. I interviewed Kevin for an upcoming episode of the Greater Than Podcast. He shared with me what he calls, adoptee residue. Those things that stick with us—as adoptees—post-adoption.

The comments, the labels, the glances, the questions. All the moments in our lives that have offered up a message that we are “lesser than” because we’re adopted. As adoptees, we can forget what we innately know—that we’re so much more than our adoptions. Adoption is a part of our life equation, but it’s not the sum of who we are.

The pain of adoption—of abandonment—can find adoptees engulfed in their grief. I say this because I know. For a long time, I felt as if I was treading the waters of my adoption story, trying not to be pulled under into a deep, dark, and angry sea. Adoption seemed to define me. Hurt harassed me. I felt small. Lost.

The stickiness of adoption weighed me down. The residue of being left behind was something I found difficult to wash off. Everyone could see it. You don’t look like anyone in your family, where did you come from? I wanted to hide from these kinds of questions, but I couldn’t. As hard as I scrubbed, I couldn’t shed the skin of adoption. Everywhere I went, there I was—a glaring reminder that I didn’t quite fit in, anywhere.

What was my purpose, anyhow? Could someone like me really have something to offer this world? These were questions that kept me up at night. Voices in my head trying to figure it all out. Many times, I missed the miracle of my story because I was entrenched in the muck of my life. I had forgotten my own personal power because the experience of adoption had made me feel so powerless.

The residue was winning. Dear adoptee, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Kevin Hofmann puts it like this, “We as a community have gone through things, at an early age, that most people don’t go through in a lifetime, and if you are here still standing there is a reason for that. You have so much more in you than you think. When we think, well, I’m adopted and that makes me less than—or I’m a child of color and that makes me less than, get this: our histories make us greater than. It makes us greater than our experiences. It makes us stronger and not weaker. It makes us able to impact a larger audience than we ever thought we could. And, we all (as adoptees) just need to get that in.”

We need to stay hungry with palates that are alive for living. We need to feel what needs to be felt and then we need to take that energy and use it for a bigger—greater—purpose. Pain will only keep us down if we let it. Don’t let it. Don’t cling to the hurt. Lean into the heart.

There may be a residue to adoption, but we can turn the bitter taste into something sweet. We can stop and feel our breath and let the breathing remind us that we’re living. We have a story to share. We have a purpose. We have an impact.

I’m committing to the sweetness of my story. I’m committing to the bigness of my history. It’s epic, as is yours. If you do nothing else today, stop and breathe. How many times have you gone through a day without being aware of your breath? Don’t let another day go by without connecting to this life source.

I learned several years ago, as an adoptee, that home is truly found in a place of emotional healing. Emotional healing required me to not be intimidated by the residue of life, but to be brave in facing those hard things, to call them what they were, and to learn from them. That’s when I finally felt at home in my own skin because there was nothing to hide and no shame to hide from.

I’m here to help you feel at home, too.

Start by stopping right here and right now. Take a long, deep breath. Remember that you’re breathing and living. And, because you are—your purpose is awaiting. Stay hungry for life.

I’m not leaving the table.

Adoptee-to-adoptee, I’m here.

Let’s break bread, together.

I’ve discovered that in the breaking there is always a breakthrough.







Adoptee Empowerment Coaching

Beginning January 30th, 2020, Michelle will lead a group of 10 adoptees along a 7-week journey of connecting and growing via a virtual event called, Adoptee-to-Adoptee: Sharing Our Stories, Discovering Our Strength, and Transforming Our Lives. To learn more and to schedule a 20-minute complimentary conversation with Michelle, visit

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