By BRIAN BOHNERT
It was 1967 and Helen Pervine was pregnant by a man who was not her husband.
At some point during the 90-mile drive to the abortion clinic, something changed her mind.
The product of an affair between a married white woman and her African American co-worker, Kevin Hofmann was born in Detroit during a tumultuous time in American history and immediately put up for adoption just two weeks after the infamous “12th Street Riot” that rocked the city to its core.
Forty-seven years later, Hofmann — a Toledo resident whose adoptive parents, Richard and Judy Hofmann, have lived in Fostoria since 1987 — has teamed up with a local videographer to tell the story of his birth mother’s difficult decision in a short film titled “A Cause For Pause.”
Hoffman first got the idea for the film two years ago during a meeting 20 years in the making. After spending two decades searching for his biological mother, he tracked her down in October 2009 — only to find out she had passed away six years prior.
With few places left to turn, Hofmann said he was put into contact with his long-lost aunt who, over coffee, told him the story of a desperate young woman forced to make a very tough decision.
“There is so much behind that history and the decision she made,” Hofmann said. “Not only was she having an affair, but it was with a black man. She knew it wasn’t going to go over well in the community and with her husband. And this was back in the late 60s where you couldn’t just go around the corner to get an abortion.”
Pervine had gone to her sister to borrow money so she could end the pregnancy before her husband found out. Reluctantly, Hofmann said his aunt gave her the money and Pervine left her home in Plymouth, Mich. intending to quickly resolve her issue 90 miles away in Flint.
“The retelling of this story by my aunt got me to think, what if she had gone through with it?” he said. “That’s how I got the idea of making a film to kind of explore that — the decision behind that, the anatomy of the decision, and why she decided to do what she did.”
To help him tell this story, Hofmann has enlisted the help of Toledo-based videographer and friend, Vince Rocha. For the project, the two will travel back in time to the late 1960s to chronicle Pervine’s decision, recreating the fateful conversation between two sisters and the drive up to the abortion clinic.
The duo is currently working on the script for the short film, which will depict Pervine’s drive to Flint with flashbacks showing her failing marriage and the coffee house conversation with her sister.
“Part of what we want to do with this film is hit home the point that an abortion doesn’t just affect you and the child, it affects the whole blood line,” he said. “I have a wife and two boys, and those kids don’t get born and what they’re supposed to do with their lives doesn’t happen if my birth mother would have gotten an abortion.”
Once the film is complete, Hofmann said he will use the film as a tool to help those in similar situations recognize adoption as a legitimate and “life-saving” option.
“We want to kind of raise the understanding of adoption; that there aren’t just two options,” he said. “In a lot of situations, many people think that the only two options are to keep it or get an abortion. We want to start a conversation about the third option. We want to use this film to start conversations about all sorts of things — abortion, race, the time period — and get people to think in a different way.”
In addition to his day job as a member of the Dave Thomas Foundation, Hofmann is also a traveling speaker who presents on the topic of adoption and shares his story of how he “almost wasn’t.” Aside from this film being placed online, he said he will use the short as an opening for his presentations.
“I figure it would be a dramatic way to introduce myself in any venue and to also show how courageous (Pervine) was for what she did,” he said.
A popular outlet for many independent filmmakers looking to see their projects through completion, Hofmann attempted to raise funds through crowd-sourcing website, Kickstarter. With an all-or-nothing goal of $4,500 and a deadline of May 12, Hofmann fell short of his mark, reaching only $650 with 13 backers.
Since then, Hofmann said he and Rocha were contacted by people from Wisconsin offering to raise $5,000 from their church alone. That offer sparked an idea between the partners to chronicle the whole pre-production process through video and re-release the Kickstarter campaign, marketing the project to larger churches across the country.
With effects, equipment rentals and payment for those involved, Hofmann said the budget for the film has now rocketed to more than $10,000, seeming to increase more and more every day.
“We’re actually moving forward. We’ll eventually have the money to pay (Rocha) and rent the equipment,” he said. “We’re now partnering with the University of Toledo to get actors, locations, etc. …”
Hofmann said he and Rocha hope to begin filming in June with all of the funding secured by July at the latest.
In his 2010 book, “Growing up Black in White,” Hofmann tells his story of growing up in a racially diverse household at a time when black and white interaction could be seen as socially unacceptable in some parts of the country.
“It was interesting,” he said. “We lived in Dearborn initially and we were kind of chased out. It was the late 60s and the mayor of Dearborn at that time was very proud to be an all-white city. He didn’t allow people of color, so we had crosses burnt on the lawn … all sorts of that stuff.”
Hofmann said his family eventually moved into a prominently black neighborhood in Detroit in order to put their adopted son in an environment where he could feel comfortable in his own skin.
“That was 30 years ahead of its time,” he said. “That is actually one of my key messages to parents: you can’t raise kids and ignore their color. You have to put them with people who look like them. My parents did that 30 to 40 years ahead of the curve and that was life changing for me.
“If you don’t allow kids to be around people who look like them, you’re cutting that option off for them later in life … I tell parents, It’s a horrible experience to be the only one all of the time.”
For more information on Hofmann, or to view the film when it is finished, visit his website at www.kevinhofmann.com.