June 15, 2017
Dear Scholarship Committee,
I first met M fourteen years ago on a hot, sunny July day. We were both young but not naïve, and we shared nothing except a recent history of trauma and grief.
What struck me about M was how few supports she had -- no financial safety net, no loving partner, no encouraging parents, no advanced education to enable her to get a stable job. She had none of the advantages I had. It humbled me and helped me gain perspective, as I realized how much harder and more unfair life had been to her.
Despite facing multiple personal hardships, M refused to throw her arms up in defeat. Her inner resilience buoyed her and sustained her through the difficult process of working to regain custody of her two older children from foster care. Her sense of hope and optimism guided her as she made an adoption plan for her new baby, a decision that requires more strength than anyone other than a birthmother can understand.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about M is looking at the trajectory of her life over the past fourteen years. She has had setbacks, as all people do, but the steady improvement in her circumstances is solely due to her perseverance and hard work. There is no part of her life that has been untouched by her efforts.
I think about M at her most trying moments over the years, and how her hopeful responses have always inspired me.
There was the time two years ago that M was almost unable to walk half a mile to a restaurant with me, because she struggled with inflamed knees and difficulty breathing due to obesity. A lifetime of limited access to healthy meals, combined with few comforts other than cheap, sugary foods, had contributed to M’s steady weight gain. Smoking cigarettes, another habitual comfort, had taken its toll on her health as well.
Today M is over 130 pounds lighter, having spent the past twenty months completely changing her eating habits. She has also given up smoking, and anyone who struggles with addiction knows the strength of will that is needed to turn away from both sweets and smokes. But she has done it. Because that is who she is.
In the early years after placing her youngest daughter for adoption, M was overcome with grief and sadness. Rather than slipping into a place of apathy, she sought counseling and built emotional supports around herself, the better to help her deal with parenting her other children. As a single mom raising two kids - one with special needs - she encountered challenge after challenge, and she did it with astonishing grace.
My husband and I are the parents of the child M placed for adoption. We are so proud of the person she is, of the example she is setting for our daughter, of the courage and self-respect that she models day after day, year after year. M does what needs to be done.
Her reactions to adversity always reflect strength. I recall when she joyfully saved enough money to purchase her first home, but within a year, she was unable to keep up with the mortgage payments, and the bank foreclosed on her home. M, whose education had stopped with a high school GED, began taking classes, looking to slowly but steadily achieve the type of education that would enable her to get a better job. She achieved an Associate’s Degree, and now she intends to get her Bachelor’s Degree.
If there is one thing you should know about M, it is that she will persist. I can’t think of a better candidate for a scholarship to college, and I recommend her to you with wholehearted enthusiasm. As a long-term friend of M’s, I can say with confidence that she is extraordinary, and she deserves every bit of assistance available. She will do you proud.
My very best,
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