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Dillons’ 50th anniversary

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Give in Honor of the Dillons

We hope you’ll make a tax-deductible gift in honor of the Dillons’ 50th wedding anniversary. Through the end of the year, a generous Dillon family has agreed to match all donations up to $150,000 through the Forever Family Matching Campaign.

Let us know you’d like your gift matched on the form below.


Waiting in Vietnam

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A child’s birthday shouldn’t be a special need, but sadly, that is the case for four bright, healthy, “older” boys in our Vietnam Waiting Child program. Each child longs to be part of a family who will support them unconditionally and help them achieve their dreams. To request the medical/social file of any of these great kids, please complete the Family Information Form below or email our Waiting Child Coordinator with specific questions.

di2015-v1This 14-year-old boy, whose case number is Di2015-v1, dreams of having a family and becoming a soccer player. His main special need is his age.

We have received medical information which indicates he is in good health. He was living in a private orphanage, but recently moved to a public orphanage.  A very brief social history is also available.

His loves music and watching movies, and his favorite color is red.

di2015-v9This handsome young man, whose case number is Di2015-v9, recently celebrated his 11th birthday. We pray he’ll have a forever family to help him celebrate the next one.

He’s described as nice, happy, studious, calm and respectful. He enjoys school and makes good grades. He gets along well with other children, but he does not have many friends at school because he is labeled as a child who lives in an orphanage.

He loves dogs, and he enjoys basketball, although he does not have the opportunity to play very often. He would love to be part of a family with siblings and either two parents or a single mother.

di2015-v10This outgoing 13-year-old, whose case number is Di2015-v10, needs a family who likes to play!

He enjoys being outside and loves sports, especially soccer, basketball and badminton, which is very popular in Vietnam.

He also loves computers, reading, writing and going to school. He is described as happy, talkative and respectful. He likes being the leader among his friends. When he dreams of a family, he dreams of a mother, father and brother.

IMG_1033This 12-year-old boy, whose case number is Di2015-v15, has a sad story to tell.

His father died in early 2014, and he never knew his mother, so he was living with his aunt.

When the aunt got married, she stopped caring for him, and he became homeless.

Since late 2014, he has been living at a social welfare center. We hope to have additional information about his interests and hobbies soon. We are working with another American agency to find a family for him.

This boy needs a second chance at a forever family. Could that family be yours?

Families from all 50 states may inquire regarding our Vietnam Special Adoption Program.

Webinar

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For all you night owls, late workers and those who need to get the kids in bed, we’ve added a late-night webinar option just for you!

Our webinar will give you an overview of intercountry adoption. Each session lasts one hour and offers general information about the adoption process, programs we offer, needs of the children we serve, and requirements for families looking to adopt. This meeting is appropriate for anyone contemplating adoption, whether you’re just getting started or if you’re ready to apply.

Dillon International also offers in-person Adoption Information Meetings in St. Louis, MO, and Little Rock, AR. If you live near one of these cities, just send us a message below and we’ll be glad to schedule a meeting at your convenience.

Please select your meeting preference below. We will email you back with either the webinar link or the location of the in-person meeting.

Exciting India news!

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We have great news from the India adoption program.

The changes amount to a more predictable process for all families and special consideration for Non-Resident Indian families. The new guidelines became effective August 1.

Since the 2011 Indian adoption guidelines, there has been slow progress in finding families for children, so the Indian Central Authority has decided to make changes so that more children can find families more quickly.

Rather than individual orphanages providing referrals to a database, the Central Authority is now handling the matching of families to children in order to provide a smoother, more predictable process.

Some of the changes include:

Number of Children: The new regulations state that families can have no more than four children at home prior to adoption. In the past, families were limited to three children.

Ages of Parents: For children up to 4 years old, the maximum composite age of prospective adoptive parents shouldn’t be more than 90 years for a couple and no more than 45 years old for a single person. For a child 4 to 8 years old, the maximum composite age is 100, and the maximum age for a single person is 50. For a child from 8 to 18, the maximum composite age is 110 years, and the maximum age for a single person is 55 years. Parents’ ages are counted from the date of registration in India.

Acceptance Process: After the family has reserved the child’s file, the family has 30 days to have the medical examination report reviewed and sign the child study report. Families who fail to move forward in 30 days will fall to the bottom of the referral list, and their registration will remain active for two years from the date of registration in India.

NRI Status: Families with NRI status, which means that one spouse is a US citizen and the other spouse obtains a valid Indian passport, will have their adoptions treated on-par with a domestic Indian adoption.

Other changes have been implemented to streamline the adoption process from India.

If you’ve ever thought of adopting from India, we hope you’ll apply with Dillon today. The application is free and online. Start by getting your user name and password for the application.

We would also love for you to join us for an upcoming international adoption webinar to learn about Dillon and all our country programs.

Read the Guidelines Governing Adoption of Children 2015 (English starts on p. 65)

Birthland tours

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Join us on our fall birthland adventures in Vietnam and Guatemala.

By Susan Serrano
IMG_0155Should your family go on a birthland tour? Yes. Absolutely.

But answers to the questions “Are we ready?” and “How do we get ready?” are a bit more complex.

As with any great adventure, there are many factors to consider as you prepare for this important milestone.

Start by making it a priority. (Yes, it’s really that important.)

“It truly is something every family should experience,” said Jan Dunn, a social worker and director of Dillon International’s Lifetime Support Services. “We want families to realize that when they adopt internationally, they are becoming an international family—Korean American, Haitian American, Chinese American, etc. A birthland tour should be a family affair and a very natural and normal event.”

vietnam 3Children do not stay children forever. As they grow, they will encounter social expectations that they have visited their birth country and know some of its language. “There will be a great sense of pride and satisfaction for them in having achieved these things,” Dunn added.

Build a foundation.

Don’t wait until you’re thinking about a birthland tour to start exposing your child to elements of their birth country’s culture. Seize every opportunity to let your child know that celebrating their heritage is important to you. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • If you traveled for your child’s adoption, share your treasured memories with them: what the trip was like, the people you met and all of the sights, sounds, smells and tastes you remember from their birth country.
  • Attend heritage camps for adoptees and work to stay connected to the families you’ll meet there.
  • Get involved with community organizations of individuals from their birth country.
  • Learn about and celebrate some of their birth country’s holidays and special occasions.
  • Add some of their birth country’s popular foods to your family’s mealtime lineup.
  • Read age-appropriate books about adoption and their birth country.
  • Work together to learn some key phrases in their birth country’s language.

So, what do you expect?

Don’t get on the plane without first framing a few expectations of what a birth country visit is—and is not.

This is going to be fun; you will have a great time and you will see plenty of tourist attractions. But this isn’t going to be your ordinary vacation or holiday, so don’t approach it with that mindset.

Because of the price tag associated with international travel, it might be tempting for parents to make the tour a graduation, birthday or anniversary gift. Don’t do this without consulting the adoptee first.

If your family is facing struggles, deal with those issues separately. Do not look to a birthland tour for a quick fix or magical solution to the challenges of adoptive parenting.

A birth country visit is a life-changing trip where one revisits the past, celebrates the present and anticipates the future.

And remember, this trip is about your child so talk with them about their expectations. How do they feel about traveling? What are they excited about? Or worried about?

“Their expectations could be completely different from yours,” said Lisa Leung, Dillon International’s tour coordinator. “Unless you make a point to sit down and talk about it, you’ll never know.”

Here are a few ideas for starting conversations and preparing to get the most out of this trip-of-a-lifetime:

  • Break out the paperwork. Reviewing your child’s lifebook, adoption paperwork and referral photos are great ways to start a conversation about adoption and your child’s birth country. Be sure to make copies and take them on the tour with you.
  • Learn as much as you can in advance of travel, Dunn advised. “When you get to your birth country, a lot of questions you didn’t even know you had will surface once you get involved with the culture. You are definitely stepping into another world when you get off the plane.”
  • Talk to other adoptive families who have gone on a birthland tour. Their shared perspective will give you unique insights. They’ll be a great resource for practical tips on travel and packing, too.

“OK. When do we go?”

If your child joined your family at a young age, plan on making the first birth country visit when they are a pre-teen, around 8-13 years old.

“They’re old enough to remember and enjoy the trip, but still young enough that they aren’t as overwhelmed with identity issues,” Leung advised. “The first trip is the perfect opportunity for an adoptee to get to know their birth country’s culture and experience the sites.”

You should plan on taking a second trip when your child is an older teen or young adult. That trip will be an invaluable opportunity for an adoptee to explore their unique adoption story, reviewing their adoption file or exploring options of a birth family search, Leung added.

A birthland visit can be emotionally taxing for young adult adoptees. “They relish being in a country where they look like everyone else, yet at the same time, they feel separated and isolated by not speaking the language and constantly being called upon to explain why this is the case,” Leung explained.

“It’s ideal for young adults to travel with other adoptees,” Leung said. “We have heard from many adoptees who report that having the support of fellow adoptees is what got them through the pains of culture shock, identity issues and birth family searches.”

Because of this sense of camaraderie with other adoptees, traveling parents should be prepared that their child (of any age) might tend to distance themselves during the trip. “It’s natural for them to want to blend in and to spend more time with fellow adoptees in their travel group,” Leung explained.

While this can be a lonely feeling for parents, it’s actually a good thing. “This can be an important step in their identity formation while reconnecting to their birth country,” Leung said.

“What about children who arrived home when they were older?”

With more children arriving home to their forever families when they are in their tween or teen years, it is important to note that their feelings surrounding a birth country visit will be significantly different from a child who arrived home as an infant or toddler.

While a birthland tour is still a valuable experience, the trip must be approached with additional preparations, Dunn said.

“Parents would need to consider how their child has coped with the trauma of leaving their birth country and talk through with their child about how he or she feels about returning for a short trip,” Dunn advised, adding that families should seek guidance from their adoption agency’s post-adoption department or an adoption-competent counselor before departing. “The key to a successful trip would be preparation: Making sure that their child understands they are going to their birth country with their parents and coming home with their parents.”

The journey doesn’t end when you get home.

Returning to their birth country can bring up unresolved emotions, particularly feelings of loss and grief for both adoptees and parents. It might take weeks or months to process these emotions. And that’s normal.

“There’s a feeling of being at home and foreign at the same time. There’s a struggle between those root issues of ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Why am I feeling this way when I had such a great time?’” Dunn explained.

Adoptees typically feel an increased desire to know more of their history once they’ve visited their birth country. It can be difficult for them to reflect on an adoptee tour companion who was able to meet their foster family or birth family when they were unable to have this experience, Dunn added. “There’s that inward struggle of wanting to be happy for someone, but that feeling of ‘Why isn’t this happening for me?’”

Parents should be ready to be supportive as their child navigates these feelings and keep in contact with their adoption agency for advice after they get home from the tour, Dunn added.

Travel. Reflect. Repeat.

“It’s wonderful that we are seeing more and more families who make birth country visits a regular part of their child’s life, going every year or so,” Dunn said.

This is ideal since your kids will experience their birth country through different perspectives as they grow up; however, realistically, this isn’t affordable for everyone. So just commit to taking every opportunity you possibly can to connect with the country that gave you the most beautiful gift ever: your child.

Editor’s Note: This article was also published in the March 2015 issue of Adoption Today magazine.

Meet your match!

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“We believe in the mission of Dillon International, and have experienced the joy of growing our family with their help. We encourage you to join us in helping to fund this worthy organization in their efforts to connect families with these precious children” – Forever Family Campaign benefactors

We are excited announce the Forever Family Campaign – our new matching grant campaign.

One of Dillon’s treasured families has agreed to match your donation, up to $150,000, made by December 31. Your contribution will be matched dollar for dollar through this matching grant. This campaign will help Dillon bring more children home and make more families complete.

Our Dillon family welcomed home their lovely daughter in 1988 from South Korea. She graduated from college with honors and worked as a math and science teacher before becoming a full-time mother to her two girls. And now our Dillon adoptee and her husband are considering adopting from Dillon.

Perhaps this story brings back memories for you of your own adoption journey … how you felt the day you first saw the referral photos, the tears of joy when you first held your child, the day your child called you Mommy or Daddy. Maybe you have grandchildren through the miracle of adoption. Whatever your adoption memories, we hope that you will continue to remember Dillon because the number of children who need a family is increasing. We still need your help; the need has not diminished.

Our benefactors want to celebrate their daughter and help ensure that Dillon remains a strong nonprofit agency. We hope that your family will participate in this giving opportunity. When we all work together, we can create a lasting treasure for decades to come – the treasure of Family, Love, and Hope. Make your gift today and double the impact!

Make your secure gift today, and let us know you’d like your gift matched on the form below.


 

Birth search success

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It all started last summer with a craving for Korean food.

That’s when Dillon adoptee Julie Evans dropped by an Asian eatery in Detroit and the Korean owner inquired about her heritage. Soon, she was sharing her story: How she, too, was Korean-born and had joined her adoptive family in rural Michigan at 5 months old.

The restaurant owner asked if she had ever considered searching for her birth family and told how he had helped another Korean adoptee connect with her birth family.

It was a question Julie had considered several times. She had weighed the pros and cons, grappling to balance her personal curiosity with the worries of her adoptive family. And each time, she tabled the matter for another day.

Now, at age 38, she realized she was finally ready to move forward and start the search process.

Christmas 2014 came early for Julie. She received a call from Jan Dunn, Dillon International’s birth search coordinator, in mid-December. “Immediately tears were flowing as she shared the news that my mother and father were located, and I had two older sisters and one younger sister.”

JuliewithbirthmomJulie learned that her birth mother was excited to hear that her daughter was searching for her and she was very apologetic that she had been unable to raise Julie. “She said that she and my father were very poor and the hospital had recommended that I be placed for adoption.”

It took time to come to terms with the reality that her often-wondered-about birth family had actually been located. “My friends and family were worried about the outcome; however, I decided not to have any expectations and be grateful for each step.”

In January—three days before her birthday—she received a handwritten letter from her Korean birth parents inquiring about her health, marital status and life. “They also told me the time of my birth,” Julie said. “That was such a gift.”

She headed back to the Korean restaurant for a celebration. She arranged a birthday party, including a dinner with authentic Korean food, to make the announcement to her adoptive family and friends that her birth family had been located.

The restaurant owner, also delighted for her, offered to help her compose an email to her birth family. They sent the message and waited for two weeks. When no response arrived, he volunteered to serve as a translator and they telephoned her Korean family. “I’ll never forget the first time I heard my mother’s voice. I was a living a dream,” Julie recalled.

After months of communicating through Kaokao Talk (a Korean communications app that is similar to Skype), Julie began the process of obtaining a passport and preparing to travel to reunite with her family in Korea.

“The staff members at Dillon and at Eastern Social Welfare Society were so supportive. They provided counseling services, translation services in Korea and continuous psychological assistance,” Julie said. “I couldn’t imagine a better support team. They approached every fear with understanding, ease and calmness.”

She flew to Korea in May and was greeted at the airport by her birth parents and a sister. They were holding a sign welcoming her to Korea. “My mother ran to give me the warmest welcome, crying, while repeatedly saying, ‘I love you.’”

Her time in Korea was filled with significant moments.

A childhood friend in America arrived in Seoul, providing 10 tickets to a Paul McCartney concert. The music was significant to Julie because throughout her adolescence, it nourished hopes of one day reuniting with her birth family. Midway through the concert, it began raining and her mother said in broken English, “Tears from Heaven.” Later, she and her father stood alone together on the balcony as the band played Hey Jude, a song that was special to Julie, a part of the soundtrack of many poignant childhood memories. “It was almost like a Lifetime movie, the timing filled voids I had carried my entire life,” she recalled.

Children’s Day was also unforgettable. Julie couldn’t wait to surprise her nieces and nephews with gifts and attention on this popular Korean holiday (May 5) that celebrates kids. Instead, she was the one who was showered with attention.

“When I awoke that morning, they surprised me by treating me as the child they had missed for years,” Julie said, recounting a beautiful day filled with bike rides, a trip to an aunt’s beauty salon and meetings with extended family members.

The day concluded with a trip to the facility where Julie was placed for adoption. As they stood outside the building, now transformed to a bank, “My mom started crying, trying so desperately to communicate with me,” Julie recalled.
Separated by different languages, the two could only cling to one another. “It was a pivotal moment that shifted the voids of curiosity and fear to forever love.”

Additional clarity came on Parent’s Day (celebrated May 8 in Korea), when the family was able to sit down with a professional interpreter at Eastern Social Welfare Society and ask questions and sort out misunderstandings.

Julie said the experience of traveling to her birth country has helped satisfy her curiosity about her heritage and why she was placed for adoption. “Although I had little contact with elements of my heritage growing up, I was always attracted to Asian art and culture. This trip helped me fully realize that I really am truly, genetically Korean.”

And so, Julie—a small-business owner who is pursuing a Ph.D. in health psychology—arrived home feeling fulfilled and eager to share her experiences with close friends.

She soon learned that five of her adopted friends had also had birth family reunions of their own, but had never discussed their experiences because of feelings of shame or pain.

“I believe adoption has nothing to do with us; it just wasn’t the right timing,” Julie said, adding that she feels it is important for adoptees to share their stories. “I really encourage adoptees to talk about their experiences of confusion, identity issues and potential shame.”

Julie continues to keep in close touch with her birth family. She regularly awakens to text messages filled with love and encouragement, and the family continues their regular chats using Kakao Talk.

Her world is broader in other ways as well. “I have a bigger purpose in life. Reuniting with my family has reassured my desire to become a bridge between American and Korean culture. I believe my desires were led by a simple prayer from my Korean mother. She told me, ‘I prayed you would get a good education with more opportunity in the United States.’ My experience is the definition of a full circle.”

—By Susan Serrano

8 children have families

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At Dillon, we are serious about finding families for the children who need them.

And when it happens, we like to celebrate!

Today, we are celebrating that in recent weeks, eight of our Waiting Children have families identified. The families are in various stages of the process, with many of them working on a home study or preparing their dossier to send to the country.

Who is a Waiting Child?

A Waiting Child is legally available for adoption and has his or her paperwork ready, but has not been matched with a family. A child may become a Waiting Child due to various factors including medical special needs, developmental delays, emotional issues, or simply being an older child or part of a sibling group.

If you’d like to meet the children who are still waiting, please visit our Waiting Child page.

We would love to celebrate with you and with even more children.

In Honor of Dad

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Last year these smiling dads experienced the miracle of adoption together when they traveled to China to bring home their precious children. Although they live in different states, they recently got together for a reunion to celebrate this special anniversary and sent us this great photo to celebrate the happy occasion. We’re honored to be a part of such treasured family memories and grateful to all the donors whose support allows us to unite waiting children with loving families.

As you celebrate Father’s Day this year, please consider giving a gift in honor of Dad that will ensure that Dillon’s work of finding families for children continues. Just put a note in the comments section below to let us know about your dad. We will be glad to let him know how special he is and to inform him of your donation in his honor.

Welcome home!

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Welcome home to all of our recent arrivals, who came home to their forever families in the last few months.

1)Brian and Jennifer Batchelor of Arkansas with their son Christopher (Korea)

2)Caleb and Brooke Lewis of Arkansas with their son Samuel (Korea)

3)Emma, daughter of Chris and Amalia Gill of California (Korea)

3a) Emma Gill with older brother Noah, also a Korea adoptee

4)Brian and Jane Kidder of Florida with their son Ethan (Korea)

5)Jeff and Mi-Sook Kyle of California with their son Logan (Korea)

6)Alec and Katie Lawrence of Oklahoma with their son Shepard (Korea)

6a) Shepard Lawrence

7) Kyle and Caroline Lewis of Maryland with their son Paul (China)

8) Liam, son of Brad and Joanna Curtis of Texas (Korea)

9) Lina Borrego with her brothers Daniel and David and her parents Antonio and Stephanie Borrego of Louisiana (Korea)

11) Jeffrey and Shivali Ober of California with their son Akash (India)

12) Nathan, son of Jeremy and Brandy Romine of Oklahoma, with his older brother Conner (Korea)

13) Asa and Serenity Scrimsher, son and daughter of Wayne and Ronda Scrimsher of Missouri (Korea)

14) Jude Moore with his older brother Samuel, sons of Jordan and Heather Moore of Texas (Korea)

15) Mia Mitchell (left), daughter of Missy Mitchell of Oklahoma, celebrates with her family, including her sister Kaylee, at Dillon International’s Lunar New Gala (China)

15a) Mia Mitchell arriving at the airport

16) Joy Foster, daughter of Justine Foster of Oklahoma (Hong Kong)

16a) Joy Foster, at the wedding of her mother, Justine, to her new dad, Alan Anderson

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