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Joys of adopting a teen

McAnally

Like most 17-year-olds, Macy loved the lazy days of summer.

Days filled with sleeping in, piano lessons, playing volleyball, basketball and shopping with friends. And that epitome of teenage joys: learning to drive on the Texas back roads.

Only a few months ago, life was much different.

Macy was a “waiting child.” She lived in an orphanage in Hong Kong. And Time was not a friend.

Her 16th birthday was closing in fast. Within months, the girl with a bright smile and a love of acting would “age out,” becoming too old to meet the USCIS guidelines for intercountry adoption.

Meanwhile, more than 8,000 miles away, Ryan and Alexa McAnally were wrestling with uncertainties of their own.

The East Texas couple—after reeling from a heartbreaking miscarriage—had finally decided adopting a baby would complete their family, which included 8-year-old Kate and Garrett, 10.

“Everybody wants to adopt a baby, right?” Alexa said with a laugh.

Research led them to Dillon International. And the agency’s Waiting Child Page. And Macy.

“We were looking at all the waiting children,” Alexa recalled. “When we got to Macy’s profile, we were amazed no one had adopted her. There was nothing wrong with this girl! We thought, ‘What’s up with this? Why is she still in the system?’”

Alexa and Ryan’s plan to adopt a baby quickly changed and the couple wholeheartedly leaped into a whirlwind of paperwork, eager to adopt Macy before time ran out. “We prayed about it and had peace from the beginning,” Alexa said.

Opportunities to spend weekends with her brother’s teenage children had served to increase their comfort at the prospect of parenting an older child, Alexa explained.

Pre-adoption training, a friendship with a woman who had adopted a 14-year-old from China, and an unshakable faith all served to increase their confidence. “God reaffirmed our decision all the time in small ways that we knew were to us from Him,” Alexa said.

Others weren’t quite so sure. “Most everyone thought we were nuts! We got a lot of ‘those’ looks and comments,” she recalled. “But now that they know Macy they don’t think that anymore.”

Macy arrived home last fall and began adjusting to her role as big sister. “Her biggest challenge was learning to get along with a brother and sister who love each other one minute and then fight two seconds later,” Alexa said.

But she quickly acclimated to the eccentricities of life in a family and Macy and her siblings now get along great, Alexa added.

Right now, Macy’s looking forward to joining in the family tradition of deer hunting this fall.

“She arrived home during the opening weekend of deer season and her brother Garrett killed a deer,” Alexa recalled. “She had the normal girl reaction of ‘poor Bambi’ until two weeks later when the deer sausage came back from the processor. After her first bite, she said, ‘Garrett, go shoot another deer!’ She loves it so much that she wants to hunt this year. It’s just another example of how she was meant to be part of our family.”

“We thank God every day for Macy,” she added.

Does she have any advice for families who are considering adopting an older child?

“If you know that this is God’s path for you, don’t hesitate! He will have a child for you that He has hand-picked!”

—By Susan Serrano

Editor’s Note: Our Hong Kong program currently has 11 great kids who are waiting for families. Grants are available to cover the international fee for all waiting children from Hong Kong.

Waiting in Colombia

waiting4

There are currently precious 23 children — including 11 boys and 12 girls — in our Colombia Waiting Child program eagerly awaiting the opportunity to share their hearts and lives with loving families.

The children’s ages range from 3 to 16 years old. Some have special needs; some are healthy older children; and some are part of a sibling group. Several of the children have grants available to assist with their adoption expenses.

Today, we would like to introduce you to two darling girls who are part of this great program.

Di2012-CB05: This beautiful 9-year-old is a sweet, shy girl who enjoys an affectionate relationship with her foster family. She attends school and loves swimming, sports and playing with other children.

She wears glasses to correct a diagnosis of strabismic amblyopia and hyperopic astigmatism and takes a medication to help her deal with the emotions associated with her history of neglect and abuse. She has a low tolerance for frustration and is constantly looking for acceptance and affection. Although it is difficult for her to express her feelings verbally, she states a desire to live in a stable and loving home where she will no longer know fear.

She needs the loving support of an adoptive family who will establish a calm routine and be supportive of her cognitive and emotional development as she learns to trust them to keep her safe.

Di2014-CB33: This joyful 4-year-old has bows in her hair, a smile on her lips and a song in her heart!

She loves to learn and is fully involved in the world around her although she has been blind since her premature birth.

This active, affectionate little girl is developmentally on target for her age. She really enjoys music, various instruments and singing. She’s a very social child who captures the hearts of all who meet her.

Advances in technology will make it possible for an adoptive family to help her learn and play alongside her peers and grow up to reach her amazing potential.

There is a $1,000 grant available to assist with her adoption.

We hope you will take a moment to learn more about our Colombia Program. You can meet these, or any of the other wonderful children who are waiting for families, on our Waiting Child Page. Please email us with specific questions.

A brother’s perspective

cozad golf

brotherperspective By Keith Cozad

I’ll tell you why you should consider adoption.

It may seem strange, welcoming a new child into your home, but I can assure you, the benefits are very worth it.

Until I was 12 years old, I was an only child. But after 2 ½ years, we finally received my sister. The process was slow, and emotionally stressful at times, but ask any member of my family, and I can promise you they’d do it all again to have my sister!

Cozad golf swingingSome people may be afraid of the bonding between the new sibling and the only child. However, this fear is completely unfounded. In fact, I got the first laugh out of my sister. We love each other as I imagine any siblings love each other. We get on each other’s nerves from time to time, but I figure that’s normal. Sibling bonding wasn’t an issue at all for us.

Some parents may also be worried about favoritism or not bonding with the child who joined the family through adoption. Both of my parents will tell you it’s nothing to worry about. My dad enjoys playing golf with my sister, and my mom loves cooking with her, and they all like reading books together.

I tell you all this about my family because the benefit we received from adopting my sister is the blessing and joy she is to us. It was a rough and long process, but she was definitely worth it.

Adoption can be a scary thought, but that doesn’t change the fact it’s actually a wonderful thing.

Editor’s Note: Keith is the proud big brother of Elliot-Sloane, who joined the Cozad family via adoption from China in 2007. Right now, she’s a busy 8-year-old who has won numerous golf honors. She’s currently in training to win regional events to receive an invitation to the Masters in Augusta, Ga., next April.

Meet your match!

cowboy hats

At Dillon International, we love matching, especially when it comes to your donation.

Now through December 31, all donations will be matched by the Anne & Henry Zarrow Foundation.

The foundation will match every gift made—up to $150,000—before year’s end.donate now button

“I know that kindness shared multiplies and has a ripple effect as it radiates from one heart to another.”

“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.”Print

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.

We need the support of our donors now more than ever and this matching grant is the perfect opportunity to give, knowing that your gifts will be doubled.
donate now button

 

 

Calling Korea parents

children on playground

Attention, Korea Families, we have good news! If you’ve desired to grow your family through another adoption from Korea but the age guidelines have prevented you, there is reason for cheer.

There is now more flexibility for families who previously have adopted from Korea. The maximum age for parents has been raised to 50. This applies no matter which agency handled your previous adoption.

This means that you would need to start the adoption process when you are no older than 49½ to make sure that necessary paperwork is completed in time.

“Families call all the time who are not finished building their family, but who don’t meet the age guidelines,” said Mary Anne Mesko of the Dillon Korea program. “I hope this new flexibility will allow many more children to come home to their forever families.”

Another group with more flexibility: Korean adoptees. Those adopted from Korea also can be up to 50 years old to be considered as an adoptive family.

Call Mary Anne at 918-748-5621 or email her for more details.

DHS adoptions bring joy

hill children

By Susan Serrano —

Would you like to hear an adoption success story?

Dillon adoptee Jay Hill will gladly tell you several.

hill4Jay, 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.

hill3Shortly 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.”

hill2However, 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.

Meet two incredible teens

Enrique,Tomea for website

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.

To learn more about either of these great kids, please visit our Waiting Child Page or contact our program coordinator with specific questions.

Older child adoption

NeverTooLate

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.

New grants added for Waiting Children

new grants added54

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.

To learn more about our Waiting Children, log in to see the photo listing today. For more information about financing an adoption, be sure to read Making Adoption Affordable.

Video: Dillon needs your help today

dillon needs your help

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.

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