Our 2020 Holt Adoptee Scholarship Winners!

Congratulations to the 2020 Holt Adoptee Scholarship winners — Grace Querido, Mei Vader and Grace Rafferty!

In 2020, each applicant submitted a creative work framed around the theme “A Portrait of Me: An Adoptee.” Grace, Mei and Grace each received a $500 scholarships funded by donors to put toward the cost of higher education. See their winning submissions below!

Grace Querido

a painting of Grace a 2020 holt adoptee scholarship winner

For my piece I decided to paint the different facades of my identity. Growing up in a predominantly white town, it was rare to see other Asian kids, let alone Korean kids, with white parents. Because of that, I attended a Korean Adoptee camp where I met other families that looked like mine, which was a really influential experience. On top of race, my religion made me special because I was usually the only Jew in class. I took my individuality as an opportunity to educate my classmates on adoption, Korea, and Judaism. I included my three different names because they’re the foundation from which I built the rest of my identity. I am fortunate that my parents took us on vacations because I learned I loved to scuba surf and travel which I hope to continue in the future. The paw prints represent my love for animals and the volunteer work I did at a shelter. My artistic side is shown through my love of Broadway and painting. I was also able to express my athleticism through my high school’s cheerleading team. This painting is the perfect visual representation of who I am.

Mei Vader

My name is Mei-Lian Vader and I was born in Dian Bai, China in 1999. Mei was part of my name from my orphanage and means Beautiful. My adoptive parents added Lian which means Lotus. This makes me Beautiful Lotus.

I choose a red forest as the background for my China page because of the importance of red in Chinese culture. My family also loves hiking in forests, and it was a nice way to tie my two homes together.

Dian means Lightning in Chinese which is where the photo of lightning comes from. The town is relatively rural and consists of a mix of city like buildings and beaches.
On October 07, 2000 I was adopted by Stephanie Vader and Lewis Taylor and brought to the United States. My adoptive family was overjoyed to bring my sister An-Lian (Ana for short) home on February 17, 2004. Ana was born in 2003 and has the joy of my life ever since. An means Peaceful in Chinese and Lian was part of my name. Together we are Peaceful Lotus and Beautiful Lotus. In the years growing up together my family has traveled the world and visit many places such as Machu Picchu in Peru which is shown in my sister’s page. We have also hiked the Camino de Santiago in Spain shown in my parent’s page. A few of my sister’s favorite things are also displayed on her page, her love for pandas and her favorite color blue.
In 2017 I decided I wanted to take a DNA test to learn more about my heritage and what if any medical conditions I am predisposed to. I used the popular DNA testing company 23 & Me and got my results on June 06, 2018 and discovered I matched with my birth mother. As part of a documentary many birth mothers in China were given the opportunity to complete a DNA test in hopes of connecting to their children they had to give up. Out of all the DNA tests mine was the only connection. After connecting with my birth family, I discovered I had three older sisters, and older brother, a younger brother, and a niece living in China not too far from where I was adopted. In the first photo I got of my birth family my sisters were wearing orange, green, and blue on one side of my birth parents and my brothers were wearing red and gray on the other side which led to my color decisions and the numbers on the right page.

My adoption story has shaped who I have become today and my career choices as well. I have always been aware of my multiracial family and the differences between my family and others. This awareness of differences led to me being more accepting of differences in others and sparked a desire to help people with differences. I developed a love for engineering and American Sign Language in high school and wanted to find a way to combine my love for these two fields and my desire to help others. I have since decided to work on the design and development of assistive technology for deaf and hard of hearing individuals. I am currently studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maryland Baltimore County in addition to American Sign Language at the Community College of Baltimore County. With these degrees I hope I will be able to better the lives of individuals with differences through assistive technology.

Grace Rafferty

My name is Grace Rafferty. I wrote a song for my submission. Originally, I was going to write solely about myself and my own experiences, but it soon morphed into a song for my mom in thanks. I began thinking of this new normal we live and the changes college will bring and I couldn’t help but write how I felt about my mother. Through many ups and downs of life, the one constant has been my mother’s devotion and love for our different family. As a single mother of two adopted children, she made so many sacrifices for us to succeed and do what we love. Being aware of the life I could have very well ended up with, I feel nothing but gratitude and privilege for the life I’ve been given through adoption. I hope you enjoy it.

adoptee scholarship contest picture of girl wearing graduation cap and gown

Now Accepting Holt Adoptee Scholarship Submissions!

All domestic or international adoptees (adopted through any agency) may participate in the contest. Three adoptees will be awarded $500 towards an educational pursuit of their choice.

Stories Up Next

All Stories