At Dillon International, we’re all seeing double, especially when it comes to your donation.
Now through December 31, all donations will be matched by the Anne & Henry Zarrow Foundation.
“The generosity of the Anne & Henry Zarrow Foundation will help us continue to ensure that money never stands in the way of a brighter future for a child in need,” said Kyle Tresch, Dillon International’s executive director. “We are tremendously honored by their support and confidence in our mission to care for children and families.”
Donor support is the lifeblood that sustains Dillon’s programs. “Adoption fees simply do not cover the costs of our work. The need has increased as the adoption process takes longer, as children have greater needs, and as the need for post-adoption services continues to grow,” Tresch explained.
By Susan Serrano —
Would you like to hear an adoption success story?
Dillon adoptee Jay Hill will gladly tell you several.
Jay, who joined his family at age 4 via adoption from South Korea, was so eager to become an adoptive dad that he and his wife, Susan, began researching adoption while they were still dating.
“Before we even got engaged, we attended a seminar offered by Dillon International to learn more about international adoption,” he recalled. “We thought we were going to adopt internationally, but we didn’t meet the criteria yet because of the length of marriage requirements.”
So, as soon as the couple married, they attended training offered by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services to become foster parents. A choice that also felt natural, since Susan’s sister was also adopted through OKDHS.
The rest of the story is as wonderfully complex and delightfully diverse as the Hill family itself.
Shortly after they completed training, the Hills welcomed their first foster children, DeWayne and Cheyenne, at ages 3 and 1 ½. “We decided to enter the process to adopt them,” recalled Jay.
Not long after, Cheyenne’s siblings, Jeremiah and Amanda, also joined the family at ages 6 and 4.
After finalizing the adoptions of four children—and having served as foster parents to 25 additional youngsters over a six-year period—the Hills decided their family was complete and concluded their time as foster parents.
Then they learned that two of DeWayne’s younger siblings needed a family. So Jay and Susan again entered the process to become foster, and later adoptive, parents to Diamond and Noah who joined their family as infants.
“Adoption was always our Plan A. It was never our backup plan,” Jay said. “It’s not for everybody, though. There are legitimate concerns. You must keep realistic expectations, do your research and be fully aware that unexpected things will happen. You’re not always going to have this smooth transition where everybody just instantly jells.”
However, he’s quick to add, the rewards are huge.
More than 14 years after they set out on their family-building adventure, the Hill family is going strong.
It’s a family with interests as diverse as their Korean, Caucasian, Cherokee, and African American heritages. “Right now, we have one who wants to be in the military, another who has set her sights on college and one who is an FFA pig farmer. We don’t know a thing about pigs, but we’re learning,” Jay said with a laugh.
Jay, who has traveled on Dillon International’s Visit Korea Birthland Tour and is a regular volunteer at Discovery Days for teens, uses his personal experiences as an adoptee to support his children and others as they navigate the questions they encounter about their own adoption stories.
“I always tell them to share as much as you want to share about your family and your adoption story, but I let them know they should never feel that they are obligated to share all of their story or feel like they have to answer everybody’s questions,” he explained.
“My kids have all said that they plan to adopt one day when they are adults. That idea that adoption is a last resort…they’re over that,” Jay added.
“On the outside, our family may not look like your typical cookie-cutter family. But on the inside, there’s no differential: We’re family,” the Oklahoma dad said. “This is an example of how families can be built. It didn’t have to happen this way, but it just feels so natural. I would have never thought about doing it any other way.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Dillon International is honored to be among the agencies recently invited by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services to place waiting children in the state’s foster care system with loving adoptive families. Please visit our Waiting Child page to learn more about this great program.
I was just minutes away from what was to be the most intense and emotional experience of my life. I remember riding the escalator to the lobby floor of the Korean train station emotionless and detached from the situation.
The state of calm ended abruptly, however, as five tiny Korean women bombarded me before I even had the chance to take both feet off of the escalator. These crying women with blood-shot red eyes pulled on me from all angles as they yelled at me in a foreign language. I could faintly hear my social worker in the background translating unfamiliar words; however, none of this commotion and chaos mattered to me.
My attention was focused on the figure standing five feet in front of me. My breathing became erratic and chills coursed through my body ending at each of my extremities. Regardless of the feebleness in my body, I never broke eye contact with this man that stood directly in front of me. I remember thinking how the man resembled a mirror image of me, but 30 years in the future. The name of the man that stood in front of me was Cho, and he was my biological father.
The experience of meeting a biological parent is not a conventional achievement for most people. For an international adoptee like me, the event is quite the accomplishment in both an impractical and emotional sense. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have gone through and successfully completed the adoption birth family search. For the majority who search, the typical result is an unsuccessful reunion in which the adoptee is left frustrated and hopeless. Then again, the intentions behind my search for my biological parents may have been different than those of the typical adoptee.
I did not search with the intention to establish any sort of future relationship; in fact, I have not had any communication with my biological birth father since meeting him years ago. I did not search out of resentment or solitude. I believe I sought out my biological father for closure on a chapter of my life that, for the entirety of my adolescence, I didn’t realize needed closure. The experience of meeting my biological father, although overall positive, helped me to realize how fortunate I am to be adopted. I learned on my trip that my birth father and I have very different outlooks on life. I recognized how difficult my life could have been had I grown up in his household. At the end of our meeting, I politely smiled at him and thanked him for giving me up for adoption.
I had a lot to think about when I returned home from my trip to Korea. Throughout the following months, I found myself reflecting on the sacrifices made by my adoptive parents in order to give me a better life. For the first time, I truly appreciated my parents and recognized their selflessness and generosity. I also thought about the influence of my two older sisters, who were also adopted from Korea, and the overwhelming support they provided me at every stage in my life. I now had a deep appreciation for adoption and I was compelled to become involved in the adoption community as a way to express my gratitude for the opportunities I was given.
My personal adoption journey eventually led me to Connect-A-Kid, a nonprofit organization I founded that provides team-based mentorship to adopted children. I can speak firsthand to the benefits of having older adoptees around. The positive influence of my two older adopted sisters undeniably shaped the man I’ve become. My vision is to have every adopted child connected to an adult adoptee. Connect-A-Kid will connect the adoption community through mentorship, embrace cultural diversity and celebrate adoption.
—By Brian Conyer, founder of Connect-A-Kid
Editor’s Note: Dillon International is excited to welcome Connect-A-Kid mentors at this year’s Korea Heritage Camp, June 24-26. We hope you’ll join us—sign up online today!
Most teenagers dream about getting their driver’s license or the latest electronic gadget. Meet two fantastic 15-year-olds whose one wish in life is to have the loving support of a family to call their own.
Tomea is a compassionate girl with a terrific smile who enjoys showing affection with hugs. She has great manners and gets along well with her teachers and classmates. Her favorite subjects in school are math and art. She loves the outdoors and trips to the park, and hopes to one day have a puppy she can take along with her. Tomea thrives best in a structured environment, and feels safest when her life is predictable. She would love to have a family who truly cares about her well-being and hopes they will arrive soon to claim her as their own.
Enrique is an easygoing, caring young man who longs to be a part of a loving, stable family. He enjoys the outdoors, likes to fish and would love to learn how to hunt. Like most teenage boys Enrique likes to eat, enjoys video games, music and going to the movies. He also enjoys JROTC and eventually would like to either join the military or become a police officer. He does best when living in a structured and predictable environment. He shares his caring nature openly with words and is accepting and loving towards animals and pets. He relates well to all adult authority figures. Becoming part of a family would bring out the best in this young man and he hopes to find one soon.
Tomea and Enrique are among the children who are waiting for families in our new program, offered in collaboration with Oklahoma’s Department of Human Services, to find adoptive families for waiting children in the state’s foster care system.
This very beautiful and talented girl in our Colombia Waiting Child Program loves to dance and paint!
When she isn’t painting masterpieces she is busy doing homework. She is currently in sixth grade; she fell behind in school due to family problems but is working hard to catch up now that she lives in a more stable and safe environment.
She needs a family to help support her as she learns more about math, science, history and English. Her overall health is stable and she is able to perform all of the activities typical for a girl her age. She has a somewhat restricted diet because of a medical history of colon carcinoid polyposis.
Any family who can provide this bright 14-year-old with lots of love, security and plenty of paint brushes should contact us soon to learn more about her!
Last month I read an article titled “The 11 Worst Types Of People You Get Stuck Behind In Line At The Grocery Store.” My worst type is the person who needs to know why I adopted my daughter. Needless to say, this type of person was not mentioned in the article.
I was asked, “Why did you adopt?” when my daughter was an infant, when she was in preschool, when she was in elementary school and when she was in high school. Yes, she was standing right beside me in the grocery line, but they still asked.
Your motivation to adopt is central to your family’s lifelong journey of adoption. The “why” is asked by friends, family members, the adoption agency and even strangers. How will you answer? What will your child hear you say? How will those answers impact her perspective of you as the parent? How will your answers impact the way he sees himself?
Now is the time to carefully consider why you want to adopt and how this decision is in the best interest of the child and your family.
For those of you who are married, let’s begin with your motivation. Are you adopting because you want to support your spouse? Early in the adoption process, most couples have a “dragger” (driving force behind the adoption) and a “draggee.” In time, both are equally vested in the decision to adopt. If not, the “draggee” will expect the “dragger” to carry the majority of the responsibilities for parenting the child. This eventually leads to marital problems and a child feeling unwanted by the “draggee” parent.
Are you adopting so the child in your home will have a brother or sister? One parent said, “My child will have a playmate and friend for the rest of his life.” Sibling relationships have positive value, but the expectation of an intimate bond is not realistic. The child currently in your home will learn, from you, how to cope with the adjustment, trauma and challenges of the new sibling. Orphanage culture is different than family culture. Even foster care culture is different than your family culture. Are you sure you want to help your child learn to navigate a new kind of sibling relationship?
If religious, spiritual or altruistic motivations are your primary reasons to adopt, please remember that there are many ways to help children without legally adding them to your family. We find that many families applying to adopt say they are called to adopt and some believe it is a Biblical mandate.
The Bible states the importance of caring for orphans, widows and the fatherless. The Bible also presents a God who wants decisions that are in the best interest of children. So when difficult times come, what do you think God wants you to do?
What resources has God given you to help a child heal from physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wounds? If your child does not believe in God, what wisdom will you use to parent a child who does not believe? Does your call to adopt also include the strength to work through problems or do you believe your call gives you a “spiritual bypass” to the wounds and challenges your family will face? As you prepare to adopt and encounter educational materials about the potential challenges, do you think, “God has called me to adopt so He will not let these problems happen in my family”? As you consider your motivation to adopt, ask yourself, “Am I using God’s calling to avoid the reality of adoption?”
Determining what is in the best interest of the child you plan to adopt is never easy.
Most very young children are happy they were adopted. By the time they are 7 or 8 years old, they begin to wonder why they were adopted and why they were not kept by their birth family. During adolescence they have a lot of questions. This is normal development of children who were adopted.
What you tell others and your children about your motivation to adopt will impact these times. Think about why you want to adopt and what you are telling others. Here are some actual statements from children and teens:
How will your child perceive your motivation?
—By Karin Price, MSW, LSW, Dillon International’s director of education & post adoption services
I was recently talking with a family who is preparing for their adoption of a 14-year-old girl from Colombia. The mother shared with me that, whenever she tells others that their family is adopting a teen, she gets really strange looks from people.
The only word they utter is, “Really?” but the look yells, “Are you crazy?!?”
I chuckled knowingly as she told me this, but, to be honest, I have (in my head, of course) asked that same question.
Almost 90 percent of the children served by our Colombia program are 9 to 16 years old. When the program first opened two years ago and I began reviewing the profiles of the older children, I struggled to repress the troubling thought, “How will we ever find families to say ‘yes’ to these children?”
They have been neglected, hurt and betrayed over and over again. They have lost their birth parents to drugs, alcohol, prison, prostitution and death. They have been rejected by extended family members. Many are struggling to navigate the twists and turns of the tween and teen years without much, if any, adult guidance.
But then, when I looked more closely, I also saw children and teens who are incredibly courageous and resilient. Despite the circumstances of their past, they survived. They are striving to make a life that is not defined by their physical and emotional scars. They are searching for normalcy.
They go to school, hang out with friends, do their chores or balk at doing their chores. They listen to their favorite music, dance spontaneously and sing at the top of their lungs or hum quietly to themselves. They play soccer and fantasize of being a superstar on the national team. They aspire to attend college and become a veterinarian, teacher, artist, journalist or social worker. They dream of marrying someone who will love them just the way they are. They envision how they will treat their child when they become a mommy or daddy. They are living their lives and dreaming about their futures.
That’s when it occurred to me that it’s never too late.
We all need a family whether we are 4 months old or 14 years old or 44 years old. We all need people surrounding us who care about us, want the best for us, encourage us and believe in us. We don’t stop needing these things just because we go away to college, or get married or become a parent.
In fact, there have been many times I have needed my parents’ support even more during these milestones. How would my life be different if I didn’t have a family to go home to during Spring Break or a father to walk me down the aisle at my wedding or a mother to show me how to care for a baby? We need our families for a lifetime.
Every child deserves those privileges!
I have to believe there are families out there who are well equipped to be a mom and dad to these children and teens. I don’t mean adults who are capable of teaching them life skills until they emancipate from home or who have the financial means to assist with the cost of college. Although life skills and college are huge assets, they don’t replace parents who stand by your side throughout your life.
If you think you might just have what it takes to provide a loving, forever family to an older child or teen, we would love to hear from you.
—by Denise Schoborg, Dillon International’s Colombia Program Director
Editor’s Note: Want to know more about the older children and teens in Colombia, China, Haiti, Hong Kong, India and Oklahoma who are waiting for forever families? Visit our Waiting Child pages for more information and to meet the children.
Adopting a child through Dillon International’s Waiting Child program just got easier.
Through donor support, Dillon has added grants of $1,000 to $2,000 toward the adoption of selected Waiting Children.
Additionally, grants have been added to cover the International Fee for ALL Waiting Children from Hong Kong.
“We don’t want money to ever stand in the way of a child having a family,” said Waiting Child coordinator Kimberly Alls. “We hope these grants help children come home.”
The children selected for grants were chosen based on the length of time they have been waiting, a short deadline for the child to be designated to our agency, or the child’s degree of special needs.
The new grants for these waiting children do not change a family’s ability to apply for further financial assistance. That option is still available for all Dillon families through the Building Families Fund.
As the adoption process takes longer, as children have greater needs, and as the need for post-adoption services increases, we need your help now more than ever.
Adoption fees simply do not cover the costs of the work we do. We need your gifts to support our work.
Please make a gift to Dillon International today.
The email inboxes here at Dillon International are blessed with many photos of smiling faces.
Photos of families celebrating their child’s arrival home. Photos of holidays, birthdays and graduations. Photos sent to say “hello” or “look how he’s grown!” We treasure these pictures and the beautiful stories behind every single one.
But every now and then, a photo comes along that takes our breath away, reaches straight to the heart of why we’re here and compels us to action. We received one of those recently.
It was a picture of a little sweetheart in a pink jacket. She was 6 ½ years old and lived in an orphanage in China. I wish you could’ve seen her! (Confidentiality requirements prevent us from publishing her photo.) Her dark brown eyes absolutely radiated an inner joy that defied her outward circumstances.
She was born with cleft lip and palate—a condition that made daily life in the orphanage a challenge and, combined with her status as an “older child,” reduced the likelihood she would be adopted.
We were honored to have the opportunity to advocate for her through our Waiting Child program, but this little girl’s circumstances cried out for us to stretch beyond the routine measures.
She needed surgery for her cleft lip…could we pay for it?
Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we could!
And now, there’s a little angel in China who is thrilled with her new look. We’re praying one day soon she will get to share her beautiful new smile with a forever family.
Those are my favorite smiles. The ones from children who positively shine when they learn they will receive things many of us take for granted. Vital things like healthcare, a nutritious meal, an opportunity to go to school, a family.
Your donations make these life-transforming necessities—and those beautiful smiles—possible.
Please consider making a tax-deductible gift to Dillon today to help children keep smiling.
By Steffanie Bonner, Dillon International development director