I host a podcast called Greater Than. I started this project to explore how people rise above tremendous challenges and find a greater way of being—discovering a purpose and a calling beyond their wildest dreams.
I’ve learned so much from listening to the stories of others who have gone through the toughest of times and, on the other side of pain, have uncovered the true meaning of life: serving.
When we look around us, as we approach the closing out of 2019, it seems that society has lost its way in the area of service. Greatness is viewed as having more than the next person: more accolades, more money, more strength, more power, more status. Greatness has never been about these things.
Kevin Hofmann is the author of the memoir, Growing Up Black In White. He is a trans-racial adoptee who describes his experience as “a unique way to grow up.” His family was part of the second wave of multicultural families created through transracial adoption, in late sixties America, with no role models to guide them.
We begin our conversation with Kevin taking us back to Michigan and the racial temperature into which he was born. He terms it, inside his memoir, as being born in “the middle of a racial hurricane.”
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 was a self-soother. As a young international adoptee, I would rock myself back and forth on the family room floor trying to re-connect with the rhythms of my birth mother.
It was instinctual. Like a lost animal in the wild, searching for its mother, the rocking was a primal ritual performed by a child looking for her home.
I don’t remember having an awareness of why I would lay there, rocking myself. I just remember that the behavior seemed to calm and comfort me. It made me feel connected to something real inside of me. Something I could not openly express.
Looking back, the rocking gave me a sense of control. When I rocked, I could feel my mum. It was the only time when I could feel her close. Rocking myself offered me certainty.
I have my moments. Those times when I wish adoption was not part of my vocabulary. If you’re an adoptee, do you know what I mean?
There are times when I wish that I didn’t speak the language of adoption so fluently. I suppose, like every person of adoption alive today, I have my dark hours of doubt.
I’ve never pretended that I wasn’t adopted. What I have done is lessened this part of my story—skimming over my adoptee chapters. Many times, in the past, I’ve looked the other way…but, the skin still follows. I live in the skin of adoption and I know the challenges of feeling uncomfortable in that skin.
Can I tell you something? When I first started writing this blogpost, it had a completely different energy. Initially, my thoughts were focused on writing the heavier side of adoption. My words were weighted. My heart felt burdened.
Maybe that’s because I’m feeling A LOT right now: preps for an upcoming surgery, planning for my recovery, and all the “mom feels” you can have when you’ll be away from your kids.
I could hear my self-talk whispering that I was “drained,” “depleted,” and “overdone.” Moving through the many layered emotions of this season has been demanding on my mindset and on my heart. Earlier today, in the middle of spiraling into limiting language, I heard an even louder voice that said—STOP!
You’re almost ten, dear daughter. In two days, we’ll celebrate another year of life. It seems like only yesterday when we were celebrating your coming into our family.
I remember holding you for the first time, in Ethiopia. I recall the feeling like it was yesterday, your tiny body folded into my arms. I couldn’t imagine what I ever did without you.
At the same time that I held you, I was also holding your birth mother in my heart. I wondered where she was, who she was, how she was. Although, I couldn’t answer the questions swirling around in my mind, I promised to never let her go. Your mother of origin—she would always be a part of us.
Why do I write so transparently about the adoptee experience?
Because I know that there are other adoptees in the world, right now, who feel isolated and are frustrated by this sense of isolation. That’s not to say that these same adoptees are not loved and cherished by their adoptive families, it’s just that adoption—for the adoptee—can feel lonely.
Who do you talk to? Where do you turn? How do you grab hold of emotions and questions that you’ve stuffed way down inside of you and bring them up to the light? Will you still be loved, included, if you do?
Fear of rejection is real for the adoptee. Often, our initial reaction to this fear is to push with all of our might away from the rawest parts of ourselves. Pushing is a protective mechanism for the person of adoption.
I’d like to share an important truth with you: adoptees have a biological story. They possess a birth history. A biology. The biology of who they are came before adoption was written into the pages of their biography.
Adoptees will feel this biology pulsing within them for all of their lives. No. Matter. What.
Their biology exists. It’s real.
It’s ever-present. It’s a fact.
It’s the genealogy of adoption.
In college, I took a literature course on female African American writers. It’s where I was first introduced to the writings of my literary heroes, Maya Angelou and Alice Walker.
Both incredibly strong and resilient women, Angelou and Walker have known the battle of the inner critic.
It was during this time as a college student when I read a quote by Ms Walker that said, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”