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college application process

Adoption and the College Application Process

I haven’t had reason to think much about adoption and college applications — yet — but an article in AdoptionToday magazine by college consultant and adoptive mother Debbie Schwartz made me think a little bit ahead.

Evan struggled as he decided how to respond to the section regarding ethnicity and race. For those students who joined their families through adoption, like Evan, these questions often reveal deeper questions about identity that can be difficult for students and families to process. [pdf]

college application processCollege as a trigger for adoption thoughts? It wasn’t on my radar, but as Debbie explains, maybe it should be.

As a college consultant, I knew that Evan could choose to identify himself as a Hispanic male on the application, and I understood the advantages and disadvantages of the decision at the time. But as an adoption educator and as an adoptive parent, I also recognized that what was more important in that moment was how Evan felt about himself and where he was developmentally in terms of his identity. [pdf]

Debbie explains that the college application process is tied up in identity. Who are you? What do you want to do with your life? How do you identify yourself? What do you know about your heritage, and in what ways have you integrated that information into your identity?

She left me with lots to think about.

Most of my thoughts on this, truth be told, aren’t about adoption at all. Rather, it seems like just yesterday I was changing diapers, wearing the baby and pushing the toddler in the stroller for long walks around the lake to induce naps. Years have flown by, stages have come and gone, and here we are in high school. In theory, I knew that my babies would one day leave the nest; I just didn’t get that an actual leaving would one day be on my horizon.

I’m starting to see that it will.

Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0


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Lori Holden, mom of a young adult daughter and a young adult son, writes from Denver. She was honored as an Angel in Adoption® by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

Find Lori’s books on her Amazon Author page, and catch episodes of Adoption: The Long View wherever you get your podcasts.

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5 Responses

  1. What a profound post, and thoughts that most parents don’t consider when they’re in the baby years. Admittedly, when I first became a parent, I didn’t think much beyond the stroller years. The teen years are already so much about thinking about who you are. And then add in a process that is focused on talking about who you are…

  2. Wow, that’s a lot of intense stuff to think about!

    I could see how those questions about ethnicity, etc. might get super complicated in an interracial or international adoption, but I’ve never thought how the process could be tricky across the board.

  3. I didn’t really think about that piece, the identity piece, the ethnicity piece with regards to the college application process. I feel like going off to college and getting a chance to figure out who I was was exciting and scary all at once but to have it wrapped up in already frought issues of identity… wow.

    And I can imagine how surreal it is to have those ages and stages pass to the point where you have high school students and college is on the near horizon. There’s no stopping the passage of time, apparently… Thinking of you!

  4. For me, this has been the hardest thing about adopting a teenager – knowing too soon he will spread his wings and fly away.

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