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Mihika’s amazing update

nix family

Nixfamily-MihikaWith the love and support of her forever family, Mihika Nix—a bright-eyed girl with a big smile and even bigger determination—is achieving her dreams and wowing everyone she meets.

When her parents first met her in an orphanage in India seven years ago, she spent most of her days crying as she struggled with diagnoses of cerebral palsy, periventricular leukomalacia, cortical vision impairment and astigmatism. Read Loving Mihika for her mom Susie’s recollections of those early days.

Fast forward to today…

Nixfamily-Mihika3Mihika’s now a busy, thriving fourth-grader in full-inclusion classes at school. She’s been working hard in therapy and now uses a cane to walk…and she’s able to take 75 independent steps without her cane! She loves to ride with her adaptive cycling team and also participates in hippo therapy (horseback riding) once a week.

She’s still a social butterfly who likes to give hugs. She enjoys music, dancing, swimming, coloring and eating.

She adores her siblings, Elijah, Anna Dola and Simon. Her older brother Elijah can make her laugh like no one else can. Her sister Anna Dola, who also joined the Nix family via adoption from India, takes great delight in helping Mihika with anything she may need and playing with their younger brother, Simon.

Mihika’s mom reports that she’s a joyful girl who loves to pray and recite Bible verses. Her favorite is Psalm 103:8: “The Lord is merciful and gracious; He is slow to get angry and full of unfailing love.” (NLT)

Adoption Guide

tiffany vivian

cover of adoption guideIf you’re considering adoption, the Adoption Guide is the place to start.

It contains country program information, family requirements and our agency policies. The latest version has just been uploaded, so we hope you’ll find the answers to many of your questions.

Also, we encourage anyone thinking about adoption to attend one of our one-hour webinars.

 

Waiting for a Family

three waiting children

It is our privilege to introduce you to three precious children who joined our Waiting Child Program this week. Thank you for taking a moment to learn about them and for your prayers and advocacy so that their forever families will be found soon. If you have specific questions, please email our Waiting Child Coordinator. If you would like to request a child’s medical/social file, you can do so by completing the form below.

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This 8-month-old baby boy in our Korea Waiting Child program has age-appropriate development. He lives in a foster home and takes his bottle well. He also is a good sleeper, especially when patted on the back.

He has a small hole in his heart called an atrial septal defect that is expected to close on its own. He was exposed to alcohol and cigarette smoking before birth. His caregivers report that he is thriving without any issues.

This sweet boy needs a permanent, loving family. Could that family be yours?

Residence: Dillon is authorized to work with families in AR, KS, MO, OK and TX.
If families reside in AL, CA, CT, DE, GA, ID, IN, KY, LA, MA, ME, MI, MS, MT, ND, NE, NH, OH, OR, RI, SC, SD, TN, VT, WA or WY, we can work to obtain special permission from Korea.

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VIDEO AVAILABLE This adorable 3-year-old boy in our Vietnam Waiting Child program has had an echocardiogram, which was normal. His hearing and vision are also normal.

At 22 months of age, he was standing with support and working on walking. The orphanage reports no major medical or respiratory issues.He loves to clap along with his caregivers. He also enjoys playing with toys, and he can hold his own bottle.

He has been diagnosed with developmental delay, short stature and coarse facies. The doctor recommends that he have follow-up testing for a precise diagnosis.

Families from all 50 states may inquire.

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This precious 9-month-old girl in our Korea Waiting Child program was born slightly preterm at almost 37 weeks, weighing 4.5 pounds.

While in utero, she was exposed to significant amounts of alcohol through the duration of her pregnancy. She also has been diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension and an atrial septal defect.

While she is still small for her age, she is working to meet her milestones. At 6 months of age, she was able to hold her head up while lying on her tummy and babbles a lot. She is described as happy and is always ready with a smile. She needs a forever family to help her thrive!

Residence: Families must live in TX, MO, OK, AR or KS to apply to adopt this child.

Birth Family Meeting

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Stacey Roy wasn’t looking for a change of pace. Change found her.

It was the simple act of answering a phone call that initiated the dizzying series of events that redefined her adoption story.

The call came from Jan Dunn, director of Dillon International’s Search Services. She had some big news: Stacey’s birth family—including both parents and a twin sister, whom she never knew existed—was searching for her.

“It was like something you read about or hear about on some talk show or social media. It certainly was not something that I would have ever thought would happen to me in my own little world,” said Stacey, recalling her reaction to the news. “The swell of emotions and thoughts that ran through my head during that 30-minute conversation were probably enough to fill a book.”

stace as childThree decades earlier, Stacey, now a busy mom of young children, joined her adoptive family and grew up with a sister who was also a Korea adoptee. “People would sometimes ask me if I would ever go to Korea to find my birth mom,” Stacey said. “I never wanted to. I’ve wanted to go to Korea, but before all this, I wanted to go just to see the culture and to see where I was born, not to go searching for a part of me that was missing.”

After the exchange of several letters, Stacey’s birth parents requested to meet her in person. “That put a whole new spin on this journey,” Stacey recalled. “When I agreed to meet my birth parents and twin, it was primarily for them. At first, I was fine with just corresponding through letters, but I sensed the urgency they had of wanting to see me.”

After much discussion, a meeting was arranged at the Dillon office and an entourage of Stacey’s adoptive and birth family members gathered in Tulsa. “Dillon was so good to consider all our needs. They prepared us for possible emotions we might experience on the trip and even afterwards, as well as prepping us for any potential cultural differences. It wasn’t just the ‘Stacey and Birth Parents Show;’ it was a huge family gathering that happened to be because a daughter born to one mother was raised by another,” Stacey said

“Meeting some of my birth family filled in missing pieces of my story that I didn’t know I had,” Stacey continued. “But it didn’t fill a void of some kind. Rather, it just enriched the already blessed life I have.”

Stacyepic1Today Stacey continues to keep in touch with her birth family, particularly her twin sister who is fluent in English. “My family has grown. My birth parents feel as though my parents are like their older siblings who took care of their daughter for them. They feel like they’ve gained another daughter in my sister. My sister feels like she’s gained another little sister in my twin. My parents feel they’ve gained more family as well. In fact, my twin sister just had her second baby, and my parents wanted me to relay their message that the baby’s American grandparents can’t wait to see pictures of her.”

So what would she say to other adoptees who are considering meeting birth family or reconnecting with that part of their lives?

“Do only what you are comfortable doing. Pray about it and realize you are not alone. Whether you are the one searching and initiating a reunion or the one being sought after for so long, know that you have great support in the staff at Dillon,” Stacey said.

“The story that unfolds may be different than what you expect or hope for; you may end up with more questions as you find answers and that’s OK,” she added. “Realize a reunion is not the book end. Rather, it’s just a new chapter in your life. In my case, it’s been quite the page turner. But I’m so glad I’m not the author.”

—by Susan Serrano

You’re Not Alone

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SONY DSCI believe that every child who is adopted goes through a hard time; whether it is the “normal” coming of age difficulties or whether it is difficulties that come with our adoption because we don’t know how to properly deal with it. I went through a long period of time where I did not know how to really get by. I was going through an identity crisis and I felt completely alone.

Throughout my whole life I felt like my physical appearance did not match my mind and how I felt about myself. During one of the lowest points in my life I began attending Dillon’s Discovery Days. It was for other adoptees just like me. Adoptees who wanted to meet other adoptees and create lasting friendships. I first attended Discovery Days in 2007. It was the week that I was supposed to go to Korea to meet my birth mother. It was a very hard time for me, but that decision to go was one of the best decisions of my life. The people that I met there are still people that I talk to today.

The adults who were there watching over us were adoptees just like us. They shared their stories and experiences and they showed me that all of us have our ups and downs. It was only natural for us to have our ups and downs, but we would be OK. They showed me that our experiences would make us stronger people. It was at that moment that I decided that I would become a person just like those adults. I would become a friend to other adoptees and younger adoptee children. I wanted to become a role model for others just as those adult adoptees had been for me.

Since 2007, my life has completely changed. I have created so many friendships with other adoptees and have been able to see them change and become wonderful people. It only happens one week of the summer, where we are all together at the camps; however that week is the best week of my life. I look forward to it every year. I have seen the children that attend Korean Heritage Camp grow up for the past seven years. I feel like they’re my own brothers and sisters. I’ve seen them grow from the small little 4- and 5-year-olds who feel like their life is over when game time is over, to young teenagers who are starting to become camp counselors who are on their way to making their own difference in their campers lives. That feeling is one of the most rewarding experiences and I thank Dillon for that.

In 2013 I found out that, through Dillon and Eastern Social Welfare Society, I could participate in a scholarship program to attend a Korean University, learn the Korean language and volunteer with the children at Eastern. Luckily, I was one of the 11 applicants selected to participate along with other adoptees from America and Australia. We were all from different parts of the world and prior to meeting in Korea, we hadn’t met each other before. It was a very interesting experience to be able to meet other adoptees and see that not all of us have the same experience. Prior to this trip I believed that we all had a good experience with our adoption and our families; however, I learned that this wasn’t always the case. It opened my eyes to adoption and adoptees in so many different ways. I realized that I wanted to speak out more about my adoption story and meet other adoptees. I used to be shy and closed off to the world, to my friends and sometimes even to my family.

Through the different programs that Dillon offers along with Eastern Social Welfare Society, I realized that through all of my different experiences and feelings of adoption, I’m not alone. I was never alone in the battle. I found by meeting other adoptees that not all of us take the opportunities that their adoption agencies offer and I’m thankful that I am able to participate in the different camps that Dillon offers. If I hadn’t participated, I wouldn’t have been able to meet all of the people I have, or to have learned more about myself the way I have, or realized that I’m called to do more for the adoptee community. Dillon doesn’t want any adoptee to go through challenges alone and neither do I.

—Kathryn Pier

Dillon is able to provide Lifetime Support Services thanks to generous donors who believe in the lifelong programs that Dillon provides. You can support our work. We are a 501c3 nonprofit agency and depend upon donations. Thank you!

Hope for Vietnam’s Children

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I recently returned from my first visit to Vietnam and I am excited to tell you, this trip was one of my most rewarding and humbling adventures.

I traveled to meet with leaders from the U.S. Department of State, Vietnam’s Department of Adoptions, and Holt International Children’s Service to discuss ways to implement a cooperative intercountry adoption program to serve the nation’s most vulnerable children.

These meetings were a positive and important step as the Vietnam Special Adoption Program moves forward following the re-opening of adoptions this past September. I hope you’ll visit our blog to read more about our work toward the common goal of ensuring that waiting children who are older, have special needs, or are part of a sibling group, have the opportunity to grow up in a family.

The exceptional unity and clear sense of common purpose expressed throughout these meetings would have been sufficient reasons for me to travel home on Cloud Nine. But then I met the kids.

They are the ones I am truly eager to tell you about.

Much of my time in Vietnam was spent traveling to the four provinces where, thanks to generous donors, Dillon offers a program that provides school tuition, books, uniforms and a daily lunch to children in need. I had the honor of personally presenting these scholarships to the 400 kids we currently serve through this effort, which is in its tenth year.

In every province I visited, the entire community turned out for the awards ceremony. Family members, teachers, local government officials: Everyone was there to show support for the children’s achievements and to express their appreciation for this hope-sustaining program.

Success stories abounded. I met with former scholarship recipients who were now college graduates on their way to promising careers. I also had the honor of hearing the hopes and dreams of youngsters who were currently attending school through the program.

Gratitude and excitement for the future were common themes. Many dreamed of careers as teachers, lawyers and social workers. They all looked forward to the opportunity their education would give them to one day make money to provide for their families, but they also dreamed of the day they would be able to give to others in need.

Over and over again, I heard how this program had provided a child with their only opportunity to go to school and have a better life. It was almost embarrassing, this outpouring of gratitude.

Just $100 will send a child in Vietnam to school for a year. In the scheme of things, that’s such a small effort. That is, until you see the tremendous difference that little bit of effort makes in a child’s life, and the light of hope and promise in their eyes as they tell you their dreams.

And so, I returned home from Vietnam with many of the same emotions expressed by the precious people I met there: Feelings of hope and gratitude.

I’m grateful to our donors for the support that has brought so much hope to more than a thousand children in Vietnam over the past ten years. And I’m thankful for this new Special Adoption Program and the opportunity we have to unite waiting children with the loving families they need to thrive. And I’m so very optimistic that working together, we’ll make a true and lasting impact that brings hope to more of Vietnam’s vulnerable children than we ever dreamed possible.

—Kyle  Tresch, Executive Director

Our sons from China

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By Liberty Joy

Our family prayerfully began the process of adopting a child from China through Dillon in the summer of 2012. Our Dillon social worker, Rachel Lee, urged us to be open to a child of either gender. We agreed, and our homestudy approved us for a either a boy or a girl.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALike many other families, we had the preconception that adopting from China would mean that we would most likely be bringing home a little girl even though we were open to a boy. At this point, we did not realize that the face of Chinese adoption was quickly changing and that three-fourths of the children waiting for families were now boys. We did not yet know that, for multiple reasons, the number of Chinese girls in orphanages had drastically dropped in recent years.

Fast-forward to today: We now have the two sweetest Chinese boys in our family, thanks to the Dillon China special needs adoption program. This is the story of how they came to be ours.

We were matched with our son Daniel at the end of February 2013. Saying yes to his referral was a giant leap of faith for our family. His special need was listed as beta thalassemia major, a life-threatening, chronic, incurable disease, which results in a short life expectancy for children who remain in Chinese orphanages.

In fact, the vast majority will die by age 10 if they are not adopted internationally. Once we saw his face, researched like crazy what he was facing as an orphan in China, and read his story, we knew we could not say “no.” We knew the Lord would provide what we needed and would guide us each step of the way. Daniel came home the summer of 2013 and the Lord in His Providence knew what He was doing. We live only an hour away from one of the top thalassemia centers in the U.S. This place is phenomenal!

Our little guy’s life expectancy has gone from grim to one that is near normal. He will likely live a full life and be a grandpa. He is healthy, robust, and a firecracker. You would never ever imagine him to have this condition; he is the picture of health. He fits into our family perfectly and he even earned the nickname of Emperor in the first few days he was with us.

When we had been home with Daniel for a few months, we began discussing the possibility of reusing our dossier. This is a unique opportunity for families in the China program to bring home a second child with the documents already logged in with the CCCWA. The rules are simple and clear. Families must use the same agency and they must be matched with a special focus child within one year of the previous adoption day.

What was extremely appealing was the simplicity of the process, with only three documents that would need updating. We asked Denise (Dillon’s China adoption program director) to keep her eyes open for a little girl with thalassemia for us to possibly reuse our dossier. That is right about when God probably started laughing and shaking His head, knowing what was to come.

A few months later, we got the referral call. It was not a girl, and the special need was not thalassemia.

The referral was in fact for our son Luke, a precious little guy with a limb difference and a few other issues. Exactly one year and two weeks after bringing Daniel home, we were back in China getting Luke.

What we discovered within minutes of having him in our arms was that Luke needed us just as much as Daniel did. Though his special needs did not include a life threatening disease, he was, in fact, in very bad shape and sick. He was extremely malnourished, weak, and at 13 months could not sit up alone nor do much of anything at all due to poor muscle tone.

He did not cry, fuss, eat or drink the first three days we had him. He has now been home four months and has made huge strides. He is crawling, working to overcome eating and sensory issues, gaining weight and thriving in our home. He is such a precious little guy with a quiet and calm personality.

Our sons from China are priceless and beloved in our family. I grieve the thought if we had only been open to adopting girls. Often times just being a boy is what keeps these little guys from being adopted. All orphans need families, boys and girls alike. However, the sad fact remains that the boys will likely wait much longer than the girls.

Editor’s note: Of the six Chinese children on Dillon’s Waiting Child page, five are boys. We hope you will log in to the Waiting Child page to meet them!

Time running out

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A 16th birthday is not sweet at all for an orphan awaiting intercountry adoption. That’s when they become too old to meet the USCIS guidelines for intercountry adoption.

Right now, the clock is ticking loudly for three teens in our Colombia program—two girls and a boy—who are approaching their 15th birthdays. They URGENTLY need their forever families to find them before they “age out.” Please drop by our Waiting Child page to learn about these bright, talented kids: Their case numbers are Di2012-CB16, Di2013-CB25, and Di2014-CB35.

There is also a great need for families with big hearts and open arms to embrace waiting siblings. Currently there are four sibling groups—for a total of 11 awesome kids—in our Colombia program who are waiting for families. We would like to introduce you to one of these groups of siblings today:

Meet the siblings

ColombiafamilyThis group of siblings (case numbers Di2013-CB21, CB22 and CB23) had the opportunity to visit the United States last winter through a hosting program and their host mom, Anita Hochstettler, reports that they are a delightful crew who enjoyed their visit and playing games with the family.

“I was blown away at how respectful they were,” Anita recalled.

The eldest child, Di2013-CB21, is a bright and considerate 15-year-old who has served as a mother figure to her little sister and brother. “She loved to have music on all the time and she loved to cook,” Anita said. “She needs a mother to guide and support her through her teen years.”

Her younger sister, Di2013-CB22, is an outgoing and energetic 12-year-old. “She loved to try everything—all the activities, clothes and shopping—during her visit,” Anita remembered.

Their little brother, 9-year-old Di2013-CB23, was a bit shy at first, but enjoyed using a computer, riding a bike, and playing with toy cars, LEGOS, and the Wii during his visit, Anita added.

“They were very loving and affectionate and would love to have a forever family who would provide them with love and guidance,” she said.
Because their Colombian culture is very important to them, an adoptive family would need to make a commitment to helping the children stay connected to their Colombian heritage, Anita added.

Please take a moment to learn more about these wonderful children and help us advocate for them! You can learn more on our Waiting Child page or by contacting our Waiting Child Coordinator with specific questions.

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. Mari, daughter of Roger and Karen Welser of Rhode Island (India). Family photo includes parents and big brothers Andrew and Evan and big sister Jenya (also an India adoptee)

2. Makaio, son of Matthew Spencer and Jennifer Kaneshiro of Oklahoma (Korea)

3. Willow Robinson, daughter of Kyle and Amber Robinson of Texas (China)

4. Hadley Williams, daughter of Jered and Melissa Williams of Oklahoma (Korea)

5. Samuel Huebner, son of Jason and Lisa Huebner of Kansas (China). His sisters are Olivia & Annalie.

6. Max Parkinson, son of Scott and Christine Parkinson-Hallman of Oklahoma (Korea)

7. Olivia Smentowski, daughter of Marc and Wendy Smentowski of Oklahoma (China)

8. A.J. Brice, son of Ryan and Cristy Brice of North Carolina (India). Family photo includes big brother Brody.

9. Nicka Jean Lee, daughter of Tony and Debra Lee of Arizona (Haiti). She joins her big sister, Almaz, also a Haiti adoptee.

10. KaEun Edwards, daughter of John and Susan Edwards of Texas (Korea)

11. Ezekiel Hubartt, son of Nathan and Amanda Hubartt of Indiana (Hong Kong). Siblings are Violet, Anra, Edison and Eloise

12. Lyle Harrison, son of Grant and Kimberly Harrison of Arkansas (Korea)

13. Lincoln Williams, son of Nathan and Emily Williams of Arkansas (Korea)

14. Collyn Puryear, son of Crews and Kara Puryear of Arkansas (Korea)

Exciting Vietnam news!

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Dillon International has been named—in announcements by the U.S. Department of State and by the Ministry of Justice’s Department of Adoptions in Vietnam—as one of two U.S. agencies selected to place waiting children from Vietnam with adoptive families in the United States.

The decision allows Dillon to offer an intercountry adoption program to find families for orphaned children with medical special needs, children over the age of 5 and children who are part of a sibling group. Both married couples and single applicants, ages 25-55, may apply to adopt through the new program, which will open effective immediately.

“We are thrilled by this opportunity to serve the children of Vietnam who are in need of permanent, loving families,” said Program Director Jynger Roberts.

Dillon International has a long tradition of serving the children of Vietnam both through adoption and a humanitarian aid program that has provided food, clothing and educational scholarships to children in four Vietnamese provinces for the past 15 years.

Dillon also provided adoption services until 2008 when adoptions by Americans were placed on hold following the expiration of a Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. and Vietnam. The new agreement, initiated by the U.S. Department of State and Vietnam’s Department of Adoptions, allows intercountry adoptions to resume through the Special Adoption Program offered by Dillon International and Holt International Children’s Services.

“We consider it a privilege to continue in our long-standing commitment to meet the needs of children in Vietnam,” said Kyle Tresch, Dillon International’s executive director. “We are honored by the trust Vietnam’s Ministry of Justice has placed in us to serve some of the nation’s
most vulnerable children.”

Vietnam becomes the eighth adoption program currently offered by Dillon International.

Dillon also offers adoption services in China, Colombia, Haiti, Hong Kong, India, and South Korea, as well as a domestic adoption 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.

Families interested in learning more about Dillon International’s Vietnam program will find the latest information on the Dillon website, Roberts said. Founded in 1972, Dillon International is headquartered in Tulsa, Okla., with branch locations in St. Louis, Mo.; Little Rock, Ark.; the Kansas City, Kan. area; Santa Ana, Calif. (in Orange County); and the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area. Dillon International is Hague Accredited
through the Council on Accreditation to process international adoptions pursuant to the Intercountry Adoptions Act of 2000.

Learn all about the Vietnam program.

Click here to read the announcement from the Department of State.

 

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