Reese Hoffa, Transracially Adopted, Wins Bronze in London


Every four years the world tunes in to watch their nation’s athletes compete for national and international glory at the Summer Olympic Games. And for that brief number of weeks the whole world is on the same page, united in our love of such an amazing event. We become glued to our screen cheering for our swimmers to swim faster, our runners to run harder, and our gymnasts to flip higher, few of us are probably wondering what kind of journey brought these awesome athletes to this event. While every Olympic athlete must overcome some obstacle to arrive at their Olympic dream a few stand out as having especially inspiring stories.

Friday night, American Reese Hoffa won the bronze medal in the shotput. His story illustrates the long and arduous path that many athletes must travel to glory. Hoffa was adopted domestically at the age of four by white parents, He struggled adjusting to his new life with his adoptive family. As one of the few black children in a predominately white neighborhood, Hoffa admits to feeling uncomfortable in his own skin for much of his childhood. His new family was inexperienced regarding the differences between caring for a child of a different race. Hoffa recalls that his parents were unaware of how to do things like care for Reese’s hair and skin. He struggled with the transition to his new family. He felt torn between his birth family and his adoptive family. Over time as Reese and his new family got better accustomed to each other and he became comfortable calling his adoptive parents “mom” and “dad” and found that he enjoyed activities such as sporting events with his family.

Soon Hoffa became a stand out in many of those sports he enjoyed playing with his family. His 5’11” frame and 315 lbs made him an exceptional football player and baseball catcher. Then at the suggestion of a coach Hoffa took up shot put, and an Olympian was born.

While in college, even before he went to his first Olympics, Hoffa was able to make contact with his birth mother, eventually forming a close relationship with her. Hoffa was determined to bring as much honor to both the family that raised him and his birth family as possible and took off for the 2008 Olympic Games. While the games didn’t go exactly as he would have liked, Hoffa uses some of his Olympic fame to spread his story in hopes that it will inspire other kids who are having a difficult time adjusting in a new place and a new family.

Hoffa also uses his Olympic platform to encourage other parents to consider adoption and giving other children a new chance at the life he has. “There is an incredible future for you once you are adopted,” is the message he often tells. “I tried to spread awareness that there are a lot of great kids out there who are actually extraordinary and all they really need is a home to give them a chance. That’s kind of my story.”

For more information about MLJ Adoptions’ international adoption programs, please click here.

MLJ Adoptions is a Non-Profit, Hague-Accredited adoption service provider located in Indianapolis, Indiana, working in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Pacific Isles. We are passionate about serving children in need.