CAFFA is pleased to invite incoming College Students to enter our Essay Contest in order to win an Educational Scholarship! This $1500 tuition scholarship will be awarded to one graduating high school senior student, who has been accepted to a 2- or 4-year college for the 2013-14 school year. This award is intended for students who have grown up in adoptive or foster care families, in the Chicago area.
The application and essay must be completed by May 31, 2013, and the recipient will be notified by the end of June 2013. The winning essay and photo of the recipient will be published on our website, and in our newsletter. In order to be considered for this award, please fill out the form below, and hit the submit button after you have reviewed all fields. You will then receive an auto-reply with your responses (this is a confirmation that your form was successfully submitted). When you receive this confirmation, please review your responses, make any corrections, and then forward your email confirmation, along with your essay (question and guidelines below) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your essay as an attachment and please include your full name and email address in the essay document itself.
ESSAY CONTEST GUIDELINES
Graduating High School Seniors only (proof will be required if you are selected as the recipient - copies of diploma & final report card)
Entrants must have grown up in Chicago area
Entrants must have a connection to adoption / foster care
Form below must be submitted prior to sending your essay
Essays must be submitted as an attachment to your email confirmation containing your registration form responses
Essays should be sent in a document as plain text or MS Word format
All essays must be typed
Be sure to include your full name and email address in the header of your essay document
All essays must have a minimum of 800 words, and a maximum of 1500 words
Please be mindful of spelling and grammar--it matters!
In order to be eligible, please be sure to check the boxes below granting CAFFA permission to publish your name and essay on our website and newsletter (and, for students 18 & under, confirmation that you have been granted permission by a parent or guardian to apply)
Past and present CAFFA Board family members are not eligible for this scholarship
Applicants are not required to be CAFFA Members
All entries are due by May 31st
2013 Scholarship Application Form
Winning Essay from 2012, by Eleanor Nelson
“Ellie, come to the basement and help Mom with laundry!” I pattered down the steps behind her with a motive: treasure. Somewhere between the stairs and the appliances, I always managed to find an adventure, digging through boxes. I was on a quest for the riches buried deep in the wasteland of abandoned things. That day I focused on a big, brown, dusty box whose size and appearance were a sign of the secret inside. It was full of glamour shots, movie stars− in reality my family pictured through the ages…and then I found it. The one face not like the rest.
I am Ecuadorian, raised in a white family, in a white neighborhood −a culture I identify with completely. As a six year old, I saw a woman with skin like mine, with dark hair and dark eyes like mine, holding a baby, and I was captivated. I tucked the picture in my pocket and hurried to the buzzing dryer, smiling inwardly at my find.
When I was little I would look at the photo after I was assumed to be in bed, and trace the outline of the woman’s face. She looked crumpled, like the frayed edges of the photo. Tired and sad, shouldering some unknown burden, but her skin was the same as mine. I kept the photo a secret, hidden in a book.
When I was eleven I noticed something new about the photo−the look on the woman’s face. My birthmother had in her eyes a look identical to that of my parents looking at me. I began to realize the gravity of her choice to place me for adoption and the love it took to do so, yet she was a stranger, distant from my life. She was the outsider. Could I be too?
Every time I looked at the photo I was drawn to the strength, love, and kindness in her eyes. The photo made me question my identity, and I kept this to myself. A few years ago the adoption agency helped us find her. This past summer I was ready to face my questions head on and meet my birthmother, when she alerted us of a visit to Chicago.
We were both anxious. She was like my six year old self, seeking to find the missing puzzle piece. I didn’t speak Spanish. I dressed differently. I had had experiences not like hers. Having time alone with her, showing her my room, I was showing her my life. Instead of looking to her to learn about me, I was showing her who I have become, as the photo sat hidden away. Because of the parents who raised me I never felt abandoned. I was strong like her because of my adoptive parents. I can hold the opportunity that she gave me and those my parents give me. As she left, I felt reassured of who I am.
Adoption is something unique to each adopted child and each family’s experience is different. Personally, it has shown me the importance of understanding and accepting diversity, of thinking of others selflessly, and not being intimidated of being different. This has meant enrolling in a religious studies program studying and visiting different religions and their places of worship to understand my peers. It has meant using the musical talents I have to help my schools music department, learning guitar, playing backup percussions, and singing when necessary even though my primary instrument is the violin. It has meant using my voice as a U.S. citizen to participate in immigration marches for those like my birthmother who only want to do what’s best for her family. It has meant being a peer mentor to three freshmen as a senior to help aid their transition to high school. Being adopted has made me realize the importance of my voice in the world. All my parents stepped up to do what’s right for me, one individual. I too must do the same. In the future I hope to study political science, journalism, or international relations. I want to use my unique perspective to learn more and share with others the world around me.
These dreams may change but the values adoption has shown me never will. My birthmother as a child probably envisioned keeping and raising her children. My adoptive parents probably imagined having kids of their own. Their dreams of parenthood changed but having gone through adoption all have proved themselves amazing parents. My plans like theirs may end up different then I expect but I am confident in who I have become to use my talents and perspective to do good in the world. My birthmother, my mom, and my dad all shared the goal of being good parents. Their dreams for reaching their goal have shifted but none the less they still achieved their goal. My goal is to use the unique voice I have to make a difference. How I achieve this I can’t wait to find out.
Remarkable, insightful quotes from some of our other talented applicants
Family isn’t defined by blood, but by connection, by love. Michael B.
My parents taught me a lot of things throughout my life… My dad taught me how to find strength in moments of weakness… My mom taught me how to drive...They taught me to always be respectful, caring, and open-minded, and how to love and be loved… Carissa W.
My leadership roles fly in the face of the negative stereotypes associated with adoption and persons of color. This message of opportunity and success is one that needs to be spread throughout the adoption community. Laura P.
I may not be able to tell you where my blue eyes come from or about my risk of breast cancer, but I can tell you something better than that… I have so many wonderful opportunities because my adoptive parents worked so hard to give me every chance at being successful. My real parents, my adoptive parents, gave me much more than genetics ever could. They gave me the chance to live a great life and become whoever I wanted to be… Their love for me is something that is stronger than blood and genetics… I am not focused on my unknown past, but on my future. My parents have allowed me to put all my focus on where I am going and not where I came from. Brittany F.
I use my past as a picture to represent possibilities. Gabriel B.
…the diversity of my background allows me to view things from multiple perspectives. I am not limited by a one-dimensional point of view. The moment I walk in a room I contest generalizations about skin color, religion, and American family structure. Through my diverse background I break down stereotypes and barriers surrounding race and religion. Gabriella C.
By being adopted I gained a loving family, caring friends, a great education, and the means to accomplish my goals and dreams. Nicholas O.
Because of my parents I will always want more for myself as well as for my family. Ashley S.
The question that seems to always follow the "Are you adopted?" question is, "Do you know who your real parents are?”… I always respond, "Yes, they are my real parents. They raised me, taught me right from wrong, and loved me unconditionally.” … what creates a mother is the love she holds for her children… My dad…showed me that reaching for a dream, no matter how high, can be achieved if a person works hard enough… When things get tough, I remember that nothing worth dreaming of comes easy. Bryan S.
..my mother and father showed me that their love transcended my temper tantrums, my fears, my failures, and my physical defects. Through their actions, they taught me that love is not earned, but given as a gift with no strings attached. Alex G.
CAFFA wants to thank each candidate that submitted an essay. Thank you for making this year's essay contest a rewarding experience for us all!
Chicago Area Families For AdoptionP.O. Box 5995 Naperville, IL 60567-5995