When we began our second adoption from South Korea, we expected things to progress as quickly and smoothly as they did with the adoption of our first son in 2008. We only waited three months to bring our first son home and because he was only 8 months old at the time, his transition was remarkably smooth.
Our referral came quickly — a healthy baby boy 5 months old was waiting for us in Korea. Although with Korea our chances of receiving a referral for a boy were high, we were thrilled to be parents to a second son, and we could think of no greater joy and honor to now be the parents of two sons.
We were excited to dream of the possibilities that lay ahead with not one, but two boys now in our home. How wonderful it would be that they shared a Korean heritage and would grow up with a shared experience. As soon as we received the call, we were anxious to begin the next stage of life.
What happened next was anything but quick and smooth. The next 22 months would be filled with ups and downs and twists and turns.
As we waited for the final approval for travel to pick up our son, Korea was working its way through newly revised adoption laws. And as we waited, our son grew older and became more familiar with his home country and foster family.
Then one day, the call came and the whirlwind of planning two trips to Korea began.
In August of 2014, we arrived home to begin our lives as a family of four. The day we arrived home marked the end to one of the hardest weeks of our lives.
We had taken custody in Korea of a 2-year-old little boy who was heartbroken to be apart from the only family he had ever known. His cries in the taxi after leaving his foster family were gut-wrenching, so heartbreaking that there was not a dry eye in the taxi, including the taxi driver.
Lincoln’s world had just been turned upside down. He didn’t understand a word we were saying, we looked different than his family, smells were new, his surroundings were new, the food he was eating was new, even his clothes were new.
He controlled his environment the only way he knew how — by moving a lot!
He wore the same clothes that he brought from “home” for days; he slept and he ate a lot. We worried and analyzed every action, every morsel of food he ate and every minute he slept.
Would we be able to keep up with his excessive movement? Would we be able to afford to feed his voracious appetite? Would he wear these same jeans to his high school graduation?
Then came the flight home. He was terrified of the loud noise of the engines and strange surroundings. Those 14 hours on the flight home were some of the longest of our lives.
Yet, in the midst of his grief, he managed to play, laugh and smile each day. It was truly amazing. Even more amazing was how he would encourage us.
At one of my lowest points on the flight home, I was a heaping mess of tears and emotions. Not only was I ready for the flight to be over, but also I was emotional thinking about seeing our 6-year-old son for the first time in 10 days and thinking about how this long process was finally coming to an end.
As I sat in my seat on the plane crying, the flight attendant brought around hot towels. Lincoln took my towel and washed my face … he began to comfort me, which made me cry even more.
Prayer and our connection to friends and family back home are what got us through. God promises in Isaiah 43:2 that He will not let us go through the deep waters alone, and I am here to tell you that He is faithful to keep that promise. Had we not been absolutely certain that it was God’s design for us to build our family through adoption, we might have given up.
Not only had the adoption process been more than we bargained for, the result (adopting a 2-year-old) was more than what we imagined.
God gently reminded us at each turn what He went through to adopt us into His family – for us to become His sons and daughters. In light of what He went though, our circumstances were small and fleeting.
Over the next few days and weeks as his grief began to lessen, he began to settle in. His movements calmed, his fits lessened, he wore other clothes and his eating normalized.
We are also able to see more of his funny and loving personality. In so many ways he is perfect completion for our family.
Now, after almost two years home, it strangely feels like he’s been with us his entire life. Where there was once a language barrier, we now have a chatter box. Where there was once a frightened little boy who would barely leave our side, we now have an independent 4-year-old who can’t wait to experience all life has to offer. Where we once had fear and worry, we as a family now experience hope.
What I want you to know is he is worth it!
He is worth waiting for 22 months.
He is worth spending 20 days in Korea in one year.
He is worth the worry and sleepless nights.
Not just because he has a wonderful personality (which he does) or that he’s exceptionally cute (which he is), but because every child deserves a loving permanent family.
My prayer is that you gain courage from this portion of our story and know that you, too, can do this. No, not on your own, but God will be there with you through the deep waters. One of my favorite quotes says I can’t promise you that it will be easy, but I can promise you that it is worth it.
Emily Williams, Dillon Korea Mom
Note: The Williams family was one of the first to adopt under the new Korean court process. Today, the total process time is between 18 and 25 months. Once a family’s home study is sent to Korea, they generally are matched with a child within two to three months. The child’s arrival is typically between 12 and 16 months later.
We need more families for the Korea adoption program and are actively seeking more families for wonderful children, primarily boys. For more information about the Korea adoption program, please visit the South Korea page on our website.
Stay tuned next week for another blog from Emily Williams about the joy and honor of adopting boys.
Dillon has just launched a new Coaching program as part of our Clinical Services.
Many parents want some extra tools to help them help their child with better discipline, routines or boundaries.
Whatever your situation, Dillon International’s coaching program may be able to help. We can even help a family before their adopted child comes home to prepare to meet that child’s individual needs.
As part of our Lifetime Support Services department, coaching is independent from our adoption program. All client coaching is 100 percent confidential, and your sessions will never be shared with your adoption caseworker.
Coaching can be done online or over the phone, with the participant and coach meeting weekly or episodically for a varying number of sessions depending on the situation. Coaching is open to any adoptive parent or any adult adoptee, regardless of the adoption agency and regardless of whether the adoption was international, domestic or through foster care.
Jynger Roberts is a master’s level social worker and has worked at Dillon International for 15 years.
She is on the credentialing path of the Institute for Life Coach Training and is working toward certification by the International Coach Federation. In her personal life, she is the mother of three children, including a daughter who was adopted internationally.
As a coach, she loves to help families set goals, reach them and build momentum for future success.
Dillon also offers a free 15-minute phone assessment to determine whether you’d be best served through coaching or counseling.
To set up a free assessment, please fill out the form below.
We are very happy to announce that Lisa Leung has completed the Level One Theraplay® training, which qualifies her to do individual and family therapy based on Theraplay principles.
Dillon’s counseling services are separate from the adoption unit, and all cases are confidential. We realize that families may not want their adoption social worker to know that they’re seeking counseling.
“We keep these services separate because we want families to feel that they can come to us without any judgement at all,” Leung said.
The most common issue for adoptive parents is guidance in responding to an adoptee’s emotional, behavioral, and developmental concerns.
Other issues experienced by adoptees and adoptive parents include understanding adoption, racial issues, relational challenges, school problems, aggression, trauma and identity formation.
Children of any age can benefit from Theraplay principles because it encourages playful, healthy interaction between parents and children.
Adult adoptees may experience similar issues. We want to help navigate their adoption journey as well, although the counseling techniques will vary.
Leung is the director of the Lifetime Support Services Department and has worked at Dillon International for six years. She graduated with a master’s degree in social work in May and is under supervision to provide counseling.
Counseling is offered in Dillon’s Tulsa, Okla., office.
We also offer a free 15-minute phone assessment for families in other areas of the country to provide feedback and referrals to professionals in their area. For a free assessment, call 314-576-4100.
Theraplay is a registered service mark of The Theraplay® Institute, Evanston, IL.
Mother’s Day: Twenty-four hours of honoring the woman who helped us through thick and thin.
For adoptees and adoptive mothers, this day can be bittersweet.
Growing up, I had always been questioning who my biological mother is. Since I could comprehend what adoption was, my mom has always been very open to talking out my feelings. Every year when Mother’s Day rolled around, it caused me to feel like a part of myself was missing. Eventually, I concluded that it was me wondering about my birth mother.
Kathy Kirk, also known as my mom, has always been so supportive in everything I have done. From school to rowing, she has been my biggest fan.
Mother’s Day is a great day to reminisce about small things that have happened throughout our lives together.
Two years ago, my family had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tour China on Dillon’s birthland tour. On this trip, there were some unforgettable memories. One of these camera-worthy moments happened at my orphanage.
The orphanage had just gotten relocated a couple of years before we came. The paint was wearing off, but we could still see the vibrant colors. I had so many emotions going into the orphanage. The orphanage vice president and one of the caregivers greeted us.
As soon as I took a step into the orphanage, I had a realization that some of the workers might have been there when I was a baby. We went into a big conference room. This is where the workers brought out our adoption files that would give my mom and me closure to just some of the unanswered adoption questions.
The file read that I had been left on a doorstep of a house across from the orphanage. I was left with a bottle filled halfway with milk.
The file also addressed that I was just over a week old. After I heard that, I started crying.
There were mixed emotions, being happy and sad. I knew that my parents did what they could for me. After this experience, it opened up many topics including the Lifelong Issues of Adoption. These issues include grief, rejection, shame/guilt, intimacy, identity, mastery/control, and loss.
Adoptees and their parents should look into these issues whether they have the opportunity to go back to their birth country or not.
On Mother’s Day, both my adoptive and biological mothers will be in my thoughts.
Even though I cannot physically be with my mother in China, she will always be with me in spirit. I think this day is a great time to bring up questions that you might have about your adoption story.
By Laura Bowen, an 18-year-old Dillon adoptee from Norman, Okla.
17031 N. May Ave.
Driving range: 7:30 a.m.
Putting contest: 8:00 a.m.
Tee off: 8:30 a.m.
Since 2012, Austin Evans has been hosting a benefit pancake breakfast to assist with Dillon International’s scholarship program in Vietnam.
This year, he has even bigger plans to raise funds: a golf tournament in his hometown of Edmond, Okla.
Austin joined the Evans family in 2007 and is now 12 years old.
“We wanted him to be able to do something for Vietnam, because that is where his heart is,” said Kim Evans, Austin’s mom.
Although a preschooler when he joined the Evans family, Austin arrived with memories of friends from his orphanage that he still carries with him. “He often talks about ways to help
the children he calls ‘his Vietnam kids.’ He really wants to give back to Vietnam. He wants the children to be able to have toys and go to school.”
“It’s hard for the kids there to go to school if they are not that rich,” Austin added. You can learn more about the Dillon International Vietnam scholarship program in the video on the left.
Austin’s efforts began with a jar that he decorated and kept in his room to collect spare change to donate to children in his birth country. “Each year, we keep thinking of more things to do, so the effort keeps growing,” Kim says.
Next, Austin spearheaded a pancake breakfast to raise money to support a Dillon International scholarship program which pays for school supplies, tuition, uniforms, book bags and shoes for children in Vietnam.
We hope you will support Austin by registering for the golf tournament today. If you’re unable to attend or play, Austin gladly will accept tax-deductible sponsorships and donations, which will go straight to the Dillon scholarship program fund.
There are 400 children from four provinces in Vietnam who count on the support of our donors to help them continue to attend school in the coming year.
I am so excited to be going on the tour this December and taking my daughter on her first trip back to India!
My first trip to India was when I was 19 years old, and I traveled with a missions group to south India. That trip and India impacted me in a way that I cannot explain, and I knew in my heart that India would always be a part of my life.
Since then, I have had the opportunity to travel to India many times; first as part of missions groups in college and then as part of my job during my 11 years working with the India program at Dillon.
However, the two most important trips to India I have taken were in 2007 and 2010 when my husband and I traveled to adopt our daughter and then our son.
When we chose to build our family through intercountry adoption, we knew that some day we would take our children back to their birth country, so that has always been part of the big picture.
My oldest daughter, Raina, has been expressing a desire to see India for many years. It has always been important to her, and although some children may not be ready until they are older, she is very ready as an almost-10-year-old.
She has many questions about the first year of her life, and although I can provide pictures and some answers, it does not provide the tangible experience of being there.
I believe this trip will not only be exciting for her as she experiences travel and new things, but also that it will provide her with more of a sense of her own story and her own history while also getting to experience being in the majority and learning about her birth culture.
I am also very excited that India adoption program director Jynger Robers will be there, as well, and I look forward to the fun of sharing this adventure together with our daughters!
I hope other families will join us as there is true value in adoptees experiencing this trip together as a shared experience.
By Tami Davidson, Dillon India mom
We have just added two new 3 1/2-year-old children from South Korea to our Waiting Child program.
We hope you’ll log onto the Waiting Child site to read more about their stories. A Family Information Form is included on each boy’s page for families that would be interested in viewing either child’s file.
Because of the two Waiting Children’s special needs, we are open to families in all 50 states.
In addition to the two Waiting Children, we also are in need of families for the traditional South Korea adoption program. For the traditional program, children are generally between 7 and 10 months old at the time of matching and about 2 1/2 years old at the time the family travels, with a total process time of 18 to 25 months.
For the traditional Korea program, please see the list of states where Dillon is authorized to work.
For either traditional or Waiting Child programs, to qualify for the Korea program, only married couples are considered. Couples should be married at least three years and must be between 25 and 44.5 years old with no more than 10 years’ age difference between the spouses. For families who have adopted from Korea previously or for Korea heritage families, the age limit extends to 50.
Families with young children should be aware that a child adopted from South Korea must be the youngest in the family by at least 12 months.
Why go on a vision trip to Haiti?
“Because it’ll change your life. It changed my life,” said Lisa Leung, Dillon International’s post-adoption service coordinator. “It will really change how you see the world. You get to be a small part of a really big vision.”
This fall, families, individuals and groups can participate in a Dillon International vision trip November 22-29.
The trip will focus on the beautiful sights the island has to offer, along with visiting our international partner in Haiti, the Foundation for the Children of Haiti, including Rainbow of Love Nursery and Haiti Home for Children, which helps those ages 8 to 16.
The tour is open to any individual, family or group … not only Haitian adoptees. For adoptees, we usually can arrange a visit to the former orphanage.
The Vision Trip will be a perfect mix of service to the children of Haiti, witnessing the work of a Haitian nonprofit agency, and having a fun vacation.
There will be beach getaways, a shopping trip to the mountains and other activities meant to give you a wider view of Haiti than you would get at a single resort or trip to the capitol city.
“It’s definitely a gorgeous country. There is beauty amongst the hardship,” Leung said.
Much progress has been made since the earthquake that devastated the country in 2010, she added. “You see a lot of hope, a lot of people working hard toward a better future; but there is still so much to be done.”
Request additional information in the form below.
I’ve traveled to India about 15 times since I’ve been a social worker at Dillon International, but I’ve never been as excited about a trip as I am about the birthland tour with my daughter this winter.
In the past, all my trips have been to visit our partner orphanages, attend conferences, and to receive Kylea, when her adoption was final in 2003.
But the Taj Mahal? Never seen it.
Mother Teresa’s tomb? Never been there.
The Victoria Memorial? Never been inside.
So you can imagine how excited I am not only to be leading the Dillon International Visit India tour over the Christmas and New Year holiday, but also to take my daughter back to see her native land.
She has asked so many times when she will get to go back with me, and that time has finally come. I know that some parts will be very difficult, such as seeing the extreme poverty in India. But I know there will be so much joy when she visits her former orphanage, is greeted by her former caregivers, and learns even more about her own history.
I’m just as excited to be with other families – some I’ve known for years and others I will have just met on the trip – as they retrace their adoption steps and learn more about their children’s early days in India.
I hope if you have a child, niece, nephew, grandchild or friend who was adopted from India that you’ll tell them about the tour. Even better, I hope you’ll volunteer to accompany them on this life-changing adventure. Dillon encourages every adoptee to go back to see their land of birth at least once.
People always ask me what age is right for children to go back. Honestly, it’s different for every child. Some children may be ready at 9 or 10. Others may need to wait until they’re 13 or 14. As for my daughter, she’ll be 14 by the time of the trip, and I know that she’s ready because this has been a trip she has been excited about for the last couple years.
Yes, a trip to the birthland requires courage. But I’ll be there with you every step of the way to provide a social worker’s feedback and a shoulder to cry on. There will be several adoptees that your children will quickly befriend. And there will be other parents and extended family members for you to socialize with.
We will all have a great time!
A lot of us may be receiving tax refunds in the next few weeks. So I hope that you’ll consider using yours toward a trip of a lifetime!
And finally, I will be able to see the Taj Mahal with you!
–By Jynger Roberts, MSW. Jynger is the director of the India and Vietnam adoption programs and will be leading the India tour, along with local guides.
Dillon recognizes that adoption brings with it many lifelong issues and challenges.
Especially during the teen years, adoptees want a chance to share their feelings and experiences with other adoptees.
That is why Dillon is starting a teen support group, which will meet from 6 to 8 p.m. on the last Friday of each month.
The next meeting will be Friday, May 27, in Dillon’s new headquarters, 7335 S. Lewis Ave., which is called the Southern Oaks Building.
Any teen adopted internationally, domestically or through foster care ages 13 to 17 is welcome to attend.
The cost is $25 per session, which covers snacks, activities and facilitator fees.
Please RSVP below. The fee can be paid on the night of the event.
For questions, please email Lisa Leung.