Kevin Barnett, born in 1960 was shortly afterwards placed in the Foster Care system up until the age of 16. After being placed in a few homes, he was finally adopted in 1976.
Due to the experiences and things that he went through earlier in life, his body weight was very low and he almost died of malnutrition. Kevin didn’t have a lot of confidence and took up Martial Arts but because of the verbal abuse he remained a shy individual.
Kevin joined the military in 1988, and has been to war, which was a scary experience; he held many other jobs and retired in 2008. Kevin found his biological family in 2016, and wrote three books about that journey. He is married to his beautiful wife Sharon, also an author. Kevin writes books that target an audience interested in adoption. foster care, military and for those who just love to read.
Kevin was also a featured author at the 1st Annual Authors Meet and Greet Book Signing, which I hosted in May in Middletown, and he is going to back along with his wife, Sharon, so, mark your calendar for September. 23rd.
Kevin was given up for adoption and it was 56 years before he met his biological family. Prior to that he joined the military which helped him with his confidence and he became more comfortable speaking in front of people and handling major responsibilities. He still keeps in contact with every family member that he had met, which is about 1000 people from both sides of his biological family. He also stays in contact with his adoptive family, so his journey continues as he is still finding family on Ancestry.com and it’s been a roller coaster ride for him.
Kevin was in the foster care system until the age of 16, so once he was adopted legally and became a part of a new family, he had to explain to every friend why his name changed and why he didn’t look like his parents. It was a difficult time because he had a lot of explaining to do as he was then going into high school.
Everyone that he went to elementary school with knew him as Kevin Hodge, then all of a sudden, he’s Kevin Barnett, so it was kind of hard on him. Of course, kids can be cruel and he had to hear things like, “you know your parents don’t like you or your parents hated you” and other cruel comments which stunted his mental growth.
As a child Kevin didn’t like to write, as a matter of fact, he hated it. He had no motivation about becoming an author or a writer. What got him interested in writing was more of a need to tell someone his story if he ever found his biological family. So he made a promise to himself to one day write about his experiences. Once he wrote the first book, it was therapy, so he wrote a second, and the third was about his time in the military.
Kevin is pro self-publishing, as it was the only way for him to go. Reasons being that since you don’t get rich by being an author and you are not spending a lot of money up front, it’s easier marketing and getting your voice out with book signings which is much more fun. Also the joy of knowing that you’re helping people, motivating them and having them get to know little things about you; things that they never knew happened they see you in a different light.
Kevin is originally from Northern New Jersey, in East Orange, NJ but left when he was 19. I asked him if he learned anything unique about his birth family, anything that kind of surprised him.
His answers included that his grandfather was from Anguilla. The Hodge family name Is all throughout the West Indies, so he did some research and found that his grandfather was from Anguilla who then traveled up to Saint Kitts but met his wife in Manhattan and they settled in Neptune, NJ, where his mother was born.
He also found on the mother’s side of the family that he was able to trace his bloodline all the way back to West Africa, in Sierra Leone. He also looks more like his mother than his sister. On his father’s side the majority of his family is from Florida, and the funny part is he actually previously lived in Orlando, FL when he was in the military.
The titles of Kevin’s books include the word “shadows” because he lived in his shadows of not knowing who he was. For 50 plus years before he found his biological family he always had to question where he came from; who he looked like; where he got his attitude from; and why he liked certain foods and he questioned why he liked certain music; so for 50 plus years he was living in the shadows
People used to tell Kevin to watch the movie Antwone Fisher, but he said that he would never watch it until he found his parents. When he finally watched the movie he found it to be his life’s story with the military angle and all but the only difference was that his mother accepted him unlike Antoine’s mother.
Before the COVID pandemic Kevin spoke to kids at elementary schools and had book signings anywhere he could get his story out to help individuals that were in the foster care system. In the foster care system some foster parents are good and in others some are bad. Same thing with adopted parents, so he tried to give them the good, the bad and the ugly. Because he went through all three, the good, the bad and the ugly.
Kevin talks to adoptive parents or people who are thinking about becoming adoptive parents. They have to realize, especially when they get kids from broken homes from the foster care system, that they’re going to be some problems, some issues. They need to know that they will be in it for the long haul.
He talks to kids that have been sexually, physically, or mentally abused, he tries to give them hope. He tries to give them a beam of light telling them that it’s not the end of the world. There are still good people out here. That they can still be productive. They just have to find their niche. He’s been through a lot and Kevin’s niche was joining the military.
Kevin states that this book is really a fun book based on real life situations in the military, not so much that they all happened to him. He used fictional characters to protect the innocent, because there’s some crazy stuff in there. It is not recommended for anybody that’s under 18. It’s a very fun book and Kevin thinks people would enjoy it and come to see the military in a different light.
Kevin left us with his WOW – which was DREAM