Social Impact Authors: How & Why Author Lea Rachel Is Helping To Change Our World

Yitzi Weiner
Authority Magazine
Published in
11 min readOct 6, 2022


First, I wish someone had told me to just take the risk. As I stated earlier, my childhood dream was to become a published author, however, I decided in college that going down that path wasn’t a sound financial decision. So I switched my major late in college from creative writing to economics. Today, I kind of wish I hadn’t. I wish I’d had the courage to just take the risk and devote myself to my first love — writing. I may have been poorer, but I think my quality of life would have been higher.

As part of my series about “authors who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lea Rachel.

In her new book, prolific author Lea Rachel explores the topic of interractial adoption. As told from the perspective of a white mother who adopts a black son, ‘Seeking Forgiveness’ explores interracial adoption in the US today. Throughout the book, Rachel questions her competency as a mother and worries that her son will never forgive her for the mistakes she has made as his adoptive mother.

To provide people with a better understanding of what it is like to raise an interracial family in our current environment — both the joys of raising an interracial family, as well as the difficulties and discrimination that may accompany it — Lea wants to help shed light on the growing trend of interracial adoption. As a mother, she wants to help other mothers going through the same experience. Because of this, we thought she would make a great addition to our “social impact author” series.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Certainly. I was born in Detroit, Michigan to a mixed-religious family — my father was a Maryknoll priest and my mother a Sephardic Jew. They met in college, married quickly, and raised my sister and I in a culturally rich atmosphere where books and art were a part of every aspect of our lives. I can still remember reading Nancy Drew mystery books while wearing my father’s old clerical shirts after lighting Shabbat candles on a Friday night. I published my first short stories while in college at The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and continued writing fiction, as well as non-fiction, throughout graduate school. My childhood dream was to become a published author, and to be honest, it continues to be my dream occupation to this day!

When you were younger, was there a book that you read that inspired you to take action or change your life? Can you share a story about that?

When I was around eight, or nine, years old I read Bridge to Terebithia by Katherine Paterson and cried and cried for days on end. It is a story about two childhood friends, one of which, suddenly and rather unexpectedly, dies. I was shocked by this development. I had no real notion, at that time in my life, of what it meant to lose someone you love; the kind of hole that such a loss leaves not only in your daily routine, but in your basic understanding of, and trust in, the world. Another important aspect of the book was that the two friends were from different worlds — different genders, different socioeconomic backgrounds, different home lives. It is made clear in the book that they weren’t “supposed” to be friends in the first place. Reading Bridge to Terebithia expanded my perspective in many important ways. It made me realize that I could be good friends with anyone (even boys!), that I could share feelings and thoughts and perspectives with all sorts of people who might seem, at first, very different than me. And perhaps most importantly, it made me truly understand that our time is limited in this world and that we should strive every day to love and appreciate those around us — and be sure to let them know that they are loved — because one simply never knows how much time they have left.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

A number of years ago I went to hear a panel of authors at a local writer’s club talk about their lives as authors. At the time, I was only vaguely aware of the different books that they had published. At one point I raised my hand to ask a question, and when I did, I referred to one of the panelists by the wrong name! I was mortified, but the gracious author took it in stride and made a joke about how he wished he could claim to be the other guy. It made me realize the importance of kindness, and of not taking oneself too seriously.

Can you describe how you aim to make a significant social impact with your book?

While a growing trend, interracial adoption is still relatively unique in the world today. As such, I get many, many questions about it, from friends, strangers, even other family members. One of the reasons I wrote Seeking Forgiveness was to offer a better understanding of what it is like to raise an interracial family in our current environment — the joy of it, but also the difficulties and discrimination that can come with it. I hope my readers finish Seeking Forgiveness with an enhanced perspective on this one aspect of race in America today.

Can you share with us the most interesting story that you shared in your book?

There are so many shocking, emotional, heart-wrenching, and eye-opening episodes in Seeking Forgiveness that it is hard to pick just one! I’ll share the story of the first time Rachel, the mother in the book, takes her son, Miles, to the dentist. Miles is around five years old when Rachel makes his first teeth cleaning appointment. When they enter the doctor’s office, however, the receptionist behind the counter gives them a hard time, telling Rachel that the doctor can’t see “the boy” until she can prove that she is his guardian. Of course, who brings adoption papers to a dentist appointment, and with nothing to legally prove that Rachel is in fact Miles’ legal mother, Rachel and Miles are forced to leave the dentist’s office without having had their appointment. In the car on the return drive home, Miles asks, “Did we have to leave because I’m Black?” Heartbroken that her five year old son would even ask such a question, Rachel responds by saying, “No. We had to leave, because I’m white.” This is one example of the many times in Seeking Forgiveness where Rachel works to protect her son from blaming himself for the racism and cruelty they encounter.

What was the “aha moment” or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world? Can you share a story about that?

For years my son had a hard time going to sleep unless myself, or his father, was next to him on the bed, cuddling him until his eyes finally drooped shut. It was during one of these evening cuddle sessions, as the wind blew briskly outside and shadows danced across the walls, that I decided to write a book for, and in honor of, my son. I wanted him to have something that illustrated the strength of the mother-son bond. I wanted to give him something so that when life got rough and unfair, he could glance over at his bookshelf and see the written embodiment of his mother’s love, and know that he had the support to get through anything. My own mother died young, and I’ve often wished over the years that I could still talk with her, especially when life was tough. Of course, I hope I don’t die young like my own mother, but if I do, my son will now always have this testament to how very much, and how very deeply, his mother loved him.

Without sharing specific names, can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

This past Mother’s Day I wrote a piece about interracial adoption that was published in a local newspaper (link here). Within a week I had gotten a number of emails and letters from readers that were touched by what I had written. One woman in particular sent me a long, hand-written note, and included with it a picture of her own interracial family. She related to me how my article had brought her to tears because, in the fifty years since she’d formed her own family, my article was the very first one she’d seen published that described what interracial adoption was really like. The experiences I had described she’d felt in her bones. I can only hope Seeking Forgiveness will resonate with other interracial families, like that Mother’s Day article did, so that they feel less alone and isolated in the world.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

First, commit greater resources to the foster system in America, to help aid reunification of families, and when that is not possible, placement of children in permanent homes through adoption. There are over 400,000 children in the foster system today — greater effort to place those children in permanent homes would do a world of good.

Second, shine more light on the topic of interracial adoption in general. Let’s talk about this! Most people assume I adopted my son due to infertility issues, but that isn’t the case. The truth is that I adopted my son once I simply learned about the possibility of adoption through the foster system. I hadn’t planned on becoming a mother this way, but it was a gift to find out about the option. I believe that for many adults adoption — and certainly interracial adoption — simply isn’t on their radar. And it should be. If we talk about it more, we can make it more of a viable option for the many couples out there wanting to start, or be a part of, a family.

Third, on a local level, educational opportunities around race, adoption, and tolerance, can be quite helpful. As a white woman I’ve gone to many talks over the years, often led by local community members or neighbors, that have helped to broaden my perspective on all aspects of race and tolerance. Not everyone is comfortable attending such talks, but if we keep having them, eventually, more and more people will go to them, and we will move the societal needle towards tolerance and grace a little bit more each time.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

A good leader visualizes the change they want to see in the world, and is undaunted as they work to make that change a reality. When I read this question, Stacey Abrams immediately came to mind as a leader who saw a different reality — one with higher voter registration rates among African Americans and other minorities — and worked tirelessly, and without pause, to make that vision a reality.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

First, I wish someone had told me to just take the risk. As I stated earlier, my childhood dream was to become a published author, however, I decided in college that going down that path wasn’t a sound financial decision. So I switched my major late in college from creative writing to economics. Today, I kind of wish I hadn’t. I wish I’d had the courage to just take the risk and devote myself to my first love — writing. I may have been poorer, but I think my quality of life would have been higher.

Second, grab the experience. After college and before graduate school I took two years off and traveled the world (this was before “gap” years were a thing). I would work for three months at a low-wage job and save some money, then travel for a few months until the money ran out, then do it again. It was one of the best things I ever did. I still draw on many of those experiences in my writing today.

Third, network as much as possible. By nature I am an introvert and so tend to shy away from unnecessary social interactions. My mother was an introvert as well so I grew up in a rather quiet household. The good news is that we got a lot of reading time in (!), but the bad news is that it took me years to realize that a night spent socializing can be as fun, and as useful to my career, as a night spent catching up on my reading. The right contact at the right time can really launch your career.

Fourth, have grace for those around you. I often have to fight the instinct to assume the worst motivations for things I don’t understand. For example, if a friend stands me up for a coffee date, I’m quick to take it as a personal affront, rather than consider perhaps that their car had broken down. Many times over the years I’ve discovered that my assumptions for people’s behavior was often wrong, and in a negative way. I’ve since learned to have more patience, grace, and empathy for everyone, because you never really know why someone is doing the thing that they are doing.

Fifth, have fun! This may sound silly, but it is harder to live by than you think. Life is short, so actively make time to do the things that you love, and with the people that you love.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I’ll give you the quote I put at the beginning of Seeking Forgiveness. It says:

Tomorrow is a possibility,

But if you love someone,

Tell them today.

I believe I mentioned earlier how my mom died relatively young. My father did as well, passing away when I was in high school. Losing my father was hard (he died first), but then losing my mother a few years afterwards was devastating. How could it happen to me twice, before I’d even finished my schooling? Such unexpected loss reoriented my entire perspective. I really do appreciate the little things in life now. And I am quick to tell the people I love how I feel about them, without reservation. I would urge everyone to do the same.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)

It took me longer than it should have, but I finally got around to reading Michelle Obama’s autobiography, Becoming. Her story impressed me, and what shone through in the book was her down-to-earthness, her perspective on events, and her fun-loving spirit. I think Michelle Obama would be a super interesting person to have lunch with because I could imagine our conversation going anywhere — from music to books to politics to ways to improve the lives of children. I imagine she’d have very insightful things to say about just about anything! If she’s reading this — lunch is on me!

How can our readers further follow your work online?

The best way to follow my work is at my writer’s website: I post excerpts of all my projects there — you can access the first three chapters of Seeking Forgiveness, for example — as well as interviews, book covers, purchase links and also a regular blog.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!



Yitzi Weiner
Authority Magazine

A “Positive” Influencer, Founder & Editor of Authority Magazine, CEO of Thought Leader Incubator