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Ready for School?

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by Karin Price, LMSW

As parents we want our children to be safe. This time of the year ideas for getting ready to go back to school are everywhere. As we prepare for another academic year, let’s remember to prepare our children for the questions and challenges they will face because you are an internationally adoptive family.

My children are adults and of all the things we did to prepare for school, the best pre-school family activity we did was learning the school handbook ‘s policy on “no bullying”. Today, some handbooks title that section “respect” or “duties and responsibilities”. When an incident happens at school, your child needs to be empowered to handle the incident as outlined in the handbook. If your child does not know the school policy, your child is at a disadvantage. If the policy is inadequate, you can work to change it.

In high school, a racist comment was made to my child. She knew the policy and followed each step which lead to a 3 days suspension of the young man. Needless to say, after that incident everyone at the high school began to respect each other with their words. My daughter had other teens who told her she had done the right thing. Everyone felt safer.

Here are some other ideas to prepare for school:

https://www.adoptivefamilies.com/category/parenting/adoption-at-school/

https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/adoption/adopt-parenting/school/

http://www.adoptionpolicy.org/Adoption_Awareness_Schools.pdf

Korea Program – Urgent Need for Families

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If you’ve considered adopting from Korea previously but felt like the process was too long, now is the perfect time to apply! The waiting times are the shortest they’ve been in many years. Families just now beginning the process can expect an overall process time of 16-20 months from the initial application to homecoming. Korea remains one of the more predictable and stable country programs. The children are considered young for international adoption at close to 2 years old at the time of homecoming. Generally, the children are healthy with only mild/correctable identified needs or risk factors in their social history. Families can expect to receive monthly pictures and updates.

Families can determine if they qualify by visiting the following link: https://www.dillonadopt.com/south-korea/.

If you are ready to start your journey, click here to apply now: https://www.dillonadopt.com/apply/

An Adoptee’s Reflection

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Over the past few years, I have seen articles by young adults who have been adopted by Western families as children, sometimes infants. These adult adoptees have returned to Korea and advocated for the end of international adoption of Korean children. They speak of loss of culture, racist experiences, parents who don’t understand what it means to be a minority in the United States, and anger because they lacked any control over their adoptions. I sympathize with their pain and angst and hope they can find peace.

These articles touched me for two reasons: first, I felt sad for the obvious anxiety and anguish the young people in the articles suffered; second, I worried that the general public, or at least those not intimately familiar with international adoption, would only know these stories and believe that these experiences were widespread and the norm for adult adoptees. My story is different. I do not want, or intend, to minimize others’ experiences, but I feel the need to tell my story, too.

In 1977, at 10 months old, I was escorted from Seoul, Korea, to my family in Wisconsin. I grew up in rural Wisconsin with an older brother and sister (both adopted domestically) and a younger brother (also adopted from Korea). Adoption was and is my normal. My family was created through adoption, and I didn’t give it any more thought than children whose families were created through birth think about biological connectedness. It was always amusing to hear comments about how my older brother inherited his height from our mom’s side of the family.

I lived what I consider a typical small town American childhood: I played sports, I knew all of my classmates, I went to the local holiday parades and celebrations, and I couldn’t walk, bike, or drive through town without waving numerous times. I grew up in the generation of adoptees whose parents were told to assimilate their children of different races and to be colorblind. I was called racist names, both by those with malicious intent and by friends who meant no harm. I freely admit I used other people’s ignorance for my own purposes-I would pretend I didn’t speak English when salespeople came to the house. I grew up, went to college, married, worked, went to law school, welcomed two children into my family, worked some more…nothing I consider unusual.

Growing up, I never fantasized about my “real” parents or idealized them. Frankly, I rarely thought of them. I had my family, and I didn’t agonize over my adoption. Did I have issues? Absolutely. I was a perfectionist. I demanded a lot from myself and rarely gave myself permission to be human. In middle school, I wasn’t very nice and was entirely too concerned with what others thought. I struggled with boyfriend issues, conflicts with friends, and parents who didn’t understand me and sometimes seemed to be aliens. In short, I was a typical teenager.

However, unlike the adoptees in the articles I have read, I never felt I was missing pieces of my identity, never felt like I was an outsider, never felt pressured to feel obligated or indebted to my parents, and never felt any confusion as to my culture or ethnicity. I am American. While I understand the trend of hyphenating culture as a proxy for race, I do not identify as Korean-American. I have no Korean culture or ethnicity. Korean-American, in my mind, more accurately reflects a person who identifies in some meaningful way with Korean culture or ethnicity.

Yes, throughout my childhood (and adulthood), I experienced racism. That’s the reality of being a person of color in the United States. I’ve lived in the Midwest, the West, and the South, and have experienced racism everywhere. It has not defined me, though I find as the years pass, I am more willing to be “impolite” to those who make racist comments and ask racist questions. By impolite, I do not mean yell at or cuss out (what I sometimes actually want to do). Rather, my answer has more to do with my comfort than with the actual question or the comfort of the person asking. I resent the implication that I’m not American when people ask where I’m from, and then are unsatisfied when I answer Wisconsin, because, clearly, I can’t be from Wisconsin. Frankly, I find it hilarious when someone comments on my English, because it’s clear to anyone who sets aside their preconceived notions that English is my first language. I try to find humor in the ignorance and racism I experience, but, after a lifetime of it, that’s not always easy.

Adoption and racism are often conflated. While they sometimes intersect, they are two very different issues. Any person of color in the United States, whether adopted or not, can probably relate to at least some of the previous paragraph. The focus of this article, however, is adoption. With other adult adoptees advocating for the end of international adoption, I can’t help but imagine how different my life would have been had I not been adopted. As an abandoned baby in 1970s Korea, I would have lacked the essential support system necessary for success in that country: a family to claim me and for me to call my own.

A new generation of parents, to which my husband and I belong, are now told to celebrate their children’s birth cultures with culture camps and language and culture classes. Parents are encouraged to discuss race openly with their children. My husband and I take our children (also adopted from Korea) to culture camp, and race and adoption discussions are common in our house. The adoption community is filled with discussions of how to ensure internationally adopted children are exposed to the cultures of their birth countries.

Could I have graduated from both college and law school had I remained in Korea as an orphan? Maybe. However, I feel confident that I would not have had my husband, mom, dad, two brothers, one sister, two sisters-in-law, one brother-in-law, two nieces, and one nephew at my law school graduation cheering me on. Without the support of a loving family, the joy I found in my success would have been diminished considerably.

Had I not been adopted, I doubt that I would now celebrate the holidays amidst not only my family, but also my husband’s family. Through my husband, I gained another loving support system consisting of his parents, four siblings, three siblings-in-law, and nine nieces and nephews. Our families fill my life with love, support, and family connectedness. That is what adoption has brought to my life.

My hope is that other adult adoptees from Korea will share their stories, or at least say, “Me too-I’m happy, healthy, and was raised in a loving family because of adoption.” While my heart aches for those adoptees in pain, my life has been enriched by love, support, and the sense of security only a family can provide because of adoption.

Yvonne, adoptee and adoptive mom

Florida licensing

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We are thrilled to announce that Dillon International is now licensed in the State of Florida.

What does this mean for you?

It means that Florida families can now have Dillon as both their placing agency as well as their home study agency.

For Florida families who are pursuing an adoption through a different placing agency, Dillon can do the home study.

Dillon is licensed to conduct home studies in California, Florida, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas.

Please do not start your home study until:

  • your home study provider has entered into an agreement with Dillon
  • and your home study application has been approved by Dillon International

For more information, call Maren Brose at 918.748.5614.

Catholic families needed

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We have received the files of several children from Vietnam who live in Catholic orphanages.

The centers have specifically asked us to look for Catholic families only for these children.

The children are generally in good health, are active and attend school. One wants to be a pilot. Another wants to be a priest. Another wants to be a teacher. Above all else, they dream of loving families.

Are you a Catholic family who is considering adoption? If so, we would love to talk with you!

In addition to the children in the Catholic orphanages, we are looking for a family for an 11-year-old girl who wants to be a doctor, a toddler who will be 3 next month, and a 5-year-old girl who is deaf. These children are not in Catholic orphanages, and the family’s religion is not a factor.

In general, to qualify for the Vietnam program, both heterosexual married and single applicants between 25 and 55 may apply. Marriage length of 2 years for first marriage or 3 years if either person has been married previously.

Single men may adopt a boy only.

Parents should be in generally good physical, mental and emotional health.

Families from all 50 states may inquire.

To meet the children in our Waiting Child program, click here to receive the user name and password.
If you already have the user name and password, please click here to meet the children.

On each child’s page, there is a form to fill out for families who would like to view the child’s medical and social file. The form goes to our Waiting Child coordinator, who will be glad to contact you.

To contact the Waiting Child coordinator directly with questions, please email nellie@dillonadopt.com or call (918) 748-5619.

The joy of boys

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“And now,” cried Max, “let the wild rumpus start,” Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are

Brother ProudI often feel like this is the cry from my two wild things when we hit the back door each evening upon arriving home from work and school.

Yes, it can be wild. After all, there are Legos to build, a world that can only be saved by the heroics of superheroes, and stuffed animals who need to be cared for in the imaginary pouch of a kangaroo (otherwise known as a pillowcase).

There is always a wild rumpus at our house and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

They are as tender as they are wild. I love to hear them say, “I love you Mommy!” and see them running to me with open arms for every scrape and booboo.

Oh, how my heart melts every time my youngest brings me “flowers” from the yard for my “wedding.”

Seriously, is there anything cuter than a little guy in his Cub Scout or soccer uniform?

I just might be “that Mom” who cheers the loudest while watching my son’s Pinewood Derby car cross the finish line.

Saturday morning soccer games and hot summer days spent at the baseball field all come with the territory with boys.

I am constantly amazed at their curiosity and passion. We have the best time exploring wherever their latest curiosity and passion take us. Be it superheroes, trains, race cars or loud music, it all brings fun.

No buddy like a brother

Don’t even get me started on the joy of brothers. Seeing them cuddled on the couch taking in their favorite cartoon or hearing them giggle in sheer delight at the latest adventure they are exploring makes me so happy that they have each other to share life with. Really, there is no buddy like a brother.

I love being a boy mom!

Every boy deserves to have a family who will nurture his “wild side.”

An extraordinary privilege

However, many boys who find themselves orphaned spend lots of time on a waiting child list in an orphanage or foster care just because of the simple fact that they are a boy.

Around the world, being orphaned and being born a boy is one of the most difficult hurdles to cross when it comes to a child finding a forever family.

On a list of waiting children, often times the girls are chosen first while the boys continue to wait.

Theories abound as to why this is true. Maybe girls are perceived as sweeter-natured than boys, making them somehow easier to raise.

Or maybe mothers have dreams of frills and princesses.

Whatever the case may be, as a general rule, girls are preferred.

Although the thought sometimes overwhelms me, I consider raising the next generation of husbands, fathers and leaders to be an extraordinary privilege.

Right now, there are boys who wait and pray for a family to call their own. Would you open your heart and consider if you are the answer to their prayer?

Emily Williams, Dillon Korea Mom to two awesome boys

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