This year on NBC’s The Voice, Samuel Harness blew judges away with his incredible voice. Right before his audition, we were blown away by Samuel’s touching adoption story. 

Samuel Harness, 26, was adopted by his parents who could not have children. He has four other siblings who were also adopted. He grew up in Indiana and was inspired by his father’s bluegrass band, The Harness Family Band. 

The Harness family is made up of multicultural, transracial adoption. Samuel talked about how unique it was growing up in a family with people from all different backgrounds and ethnicities. He said, “family goes beyond biology.” 

Like many other adoptees, Samuel sometimes struggled with a slight sense of abandonment and identity and would use his adoption in anger toward his parents when he didn’t feel understood. Although adoption doesn’t determine someone’s identity, it can have a huge impact on how someone sees the world and their place in it. As children of adoption come to learn what their adoption means and how to cope with the loss or trauma they may feel, they can start to process those feelings in a healthy way. That’s what Samuel did.

When Samuel turned 18, he had the opportunity to reunite with his birth mother. He said, “it gave me a sense of understanding.” Reunion can be sparked by different needs, but a common one for adoptees is just knowing where they came from. They want to see someone who looks like them and that they have a biological connection to. Although open adoption is more common in the 21st century, there are still countless adoptees out there who haven’t met their biological parents. 

Samuel has also started a family of his own—he is the father of a beautiful little boy who is now 4 years old. He talks about how his son has taught him about unconditional love and how that has strengthened his relationship with his own adoptive parents. 

Samuel’s parents and son watched anxiously over videocam during his audition. For his audition, Samuel sang a slowed-down version of  “Here Without You” by 3 Doors Down. Although he didn’t share the inspiration behind his song choice, it was easy to draw a connection to the song’s lyrics and Samuel’s story of adoption and reunion “I’m here without you […] but you’re still on my lonely mind […] I dream about you all the time.”

Although the original song is about romantic heartbreak, adoptees of closed adoptions can still resonate with the lyrics of the chorus. As we grow older, some of us may think about the loneliness that could come with being adopted and where we came from. Under some circumstances, we dream of reunion and what it would be like to see our biological families again. Needless to say, Samuel’s audition was incredible and impressed three out of the four judges enough to stay on the show!

Ariana Grande, Blake Shelton, and John Legend turned their chairs for Samuel and fought for him to be on their teams. Samuel told the judges he is inspired by Bruno Mars, Lewis Capaldi, and Ed Sheeran (and definitely does not sing Country). Blake said, “voices like yours are rare” and although he fought for Samuel’s vote, Samuel, to no surprise, chose Team Legend.  

After seeing his audition, I quickly reached out to Samuel over social media to thank him for sharing his story and wish him luck in the competition. He said “[…] it was my hope that others could relate through my story!” 

I can’t even begin to tell you what it means to me that we live in a time where we can actually connect with others and learn of peoples’ stories that are similar to ours. Although social media comes with both bitter and sweet consequences, one of the sweetest for me is being able to speak with other adoptees and adoption triad members to share in our experiences. Together, we make an even bigger, stronger family. 

Best of luck to Samuel on Team Legend this year. We will be cheering you on!