A Beautiful New Normal


The night before we were set to get on a plane from Houston, Texas to Beijing, China I was filled with a deep sense of mourning.

I know that is probably not the first sentence you were expecting to read on a post about adoption. It was the emotion no one told me about; the one I was not prepared for. I was suppose to be excited even giddy, but here we were less than 24 hours from boarding a plane to go get our little girl and I had a heavy heart.

Why? Because I realized that our daughter had no idea that in less than a week she was going to leave the only normal she had ever known. Her foster family, her caregivers at her orphanage: the only people who had ever shown her love. The thought of her being so confused and possibly completely shutting down from being removed from the only normal she had ever known was heartbreaking.

The closest thing I can compare it to is getting your child vaccinated. When you take your child to the doctor to get their vaccines, you know that despite the fact that this is going to bring temporary pain to them, it is the best thing for your child. So you help the nurse hold your child down while he/she is painfully poked and prodded, because even though it may just break your heart watching it all happen, it is absolutely what is best for them.

I know that having a family is what is best for our daughter. It is what she needs and what she deserves. And so for that reason, despite the grief and mourning, we got on the plane the next day to offer what I hope is the best family she could ever imagine.

But Kennedy was not the only child I was mourning for, I was also mourning for our three biological children as well. I was mourning for the fact that this was also our last night as “Jones Party of Five”.

As I watched my three kiddos pray for “baby sister in China” for the last time, I realized our family would never be this again and my three oldest had no concept of what that meant. They don’t understand that we will probably have some very rocky roads ahead of us. That there will be times in which they are going to be hurt and confused as a by-product of this decision, but watching what God does through this and the character it will develop in them is absolutely what is best for them.

A death of what has been normal, in order to give birth to something beautiful…

KennedyJones1And now that we are eight months post adoption, the beauty of our new normal has blown us away. The timid 21-pound 2 year old that we became “Mommy and Daddy” to on March 9, 2015, is now our rather sassy and boisterous 31-pound almost 3 year old! We have seen her personality come alive, from her absolute love for Elmo to her monumental melt-downs when she doesn’t want to share with her brother that is only 15 months her elder. Every morning before my 9 year old heads to school, she is sure to come in her little sister’s room, get in the crib with her and cover her in hugs and kisses before heading out the door. My 6-year-old son has taught his little sister how to kick a soccer ball, sword fight and drink from a juice box. But I think that the most beautiful thing that has come from this journey is the many other families in our church, social media circles and community that have contacted us with questions over adoptions and what that may look like for their family.

Making the decision to become Kennedy’s family is the scariest, hardest, most meaningful thing we have ever done with our lives. But even on our hardest day, I would never want our old normal back, because our new normal is more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.

—By Jenny Jones

Celebrating Maren!

maren b

Today we are celebrating the 20th work anniversary of Maren Brose, Dillon International’s adoption supervisor.

If you’re a current Dillon family or are thinking about adopting, Maren is the one who will review your home study and supervise the social worker in charge of your case.

Over the years, she has seen 2,468 children come home to their forever families, and we look forward to her guiding us through thousands more.

We’d like to take a moment to thank Maren, who doesn’t like the spotlight but always deserves it.

And since it’s basketball season, we’ll tell you that her favorite pastime this time of year is cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks.

So go Jayhawks!

Welcome home!

hong kong slide
Welcome home to some of our recent arrivals, who came home to their forever families in the last few months.
Daily Family

1. Grayson Daily, son of Paul and Becky Daily of Texas (China)
1a. Family Selfie: Grayson Daily in the arms of his mom, Becky, along with
his brothers and dad,
1b: Grayson (in red life vest), with his brothers Cade and Tucker (who are Dill
on Korea program
adoptees), Aidan, Noah and Titus.
1c: Grayson Daily with his mom, Becky
1d: Grayson Daily with his mom, Becky
1e: Grayson with his parents, Paul and Becky Daily
1f: Grayson with his dad, Paul Daily

Wood Family

2. Hyun Chae Oliver, son of Ron and Halee Wood of Oklahoma (Korea)
2a: Hyun Chae Oliver Wood with his brother Reese and parents, Ron and Halee

Wilkins Family

3. Jian, son of Dan and Hyejung Wilkins of Alabama (Korea)

Petty Family

4. Joshua, with his parents Zane and Tiffany Petty of Texas (China)

Bushman Family

5. Macy Emmanuela, daughter of Lisa Bushman of Illinois (Haiti)
5a: Macy Emmanuela with mom Lisa and siblings, Braeden, Liam, and Olivia
5b: Macy Emmanuela with her siblings

Hart Family

6. Michael Dylan Hart son of Will and Ashley Hart of Oklahoma (China)
6a: Michael Dylan Hart with his family.

Van Scotter Family

7. Mila, daughter of Ryan and Brianne Van Scotter of California (Korea)

7a: Mila with her mom, Brianne

7b: Mila with her parents

7c: Mila with her parents

Ward Family

8. Samuel, son of Scott and Jennifer Ward of Arkansas, with his brothers Joshua, Brennan

and Luke (Korea)

Kamp Family

9. Joseph, son of Benjamin and Emily Kamp of Oklahoma, with his sister Catherine and his brother Andrew (China)

9a: Joseph Kamp in the arms of his mom, Emily

9b: Joseph Kamp

Potter Family

10. Ryan Potter with his parents Hannah and Benjamin of Illinois (Hong Kong)

10a: Ryan with his parents Hannah and Benjamin and siblings, Joanna, Curtis, Caty

Thomas Family

11. Katie Mei’a, daughter of Brett and Shirley Thomas of Texas, showing off her new smile. (China)

11a. Cooking in the kitchen.

11b. Gotcha Day 5/11/15! Brett (Daddy), Holt (brother), Shirley (Mommy) and Katie Mei’a.

11c. Katie Mei’a playing with her brother.

11d. Seeing her brother off for his first day of kindergarten.

How far they’ve come!


Then and now: Benjamin Adams, Korea, and Emily Wright, China

Dillon International wishes to recognize our 2015 graduates. Congratulations, and we are so proud of all of you!

1. Benjamin Adams, Stony Point High School, Round Rock, Texas. Adopted from Korea.

2. Nathan Cook, Rejoice High School, Owasso, Okla. Adopted from Korea.

3. Noah Cottrill, Canyon High School, New Braunfels, Texas. Adopted from Korea.

4. Taylor Lin DePetris, Eagle Point Christian Academy, Sapulpa, Okla. Adopted from China.

5. Alexandra Durso, Brookwood High School, Lawrenceville, Ga. Adopted from Korea.

6. Liz Flusche, University of Oklahoma. Adopted from Korea.

7. Natalie Gary, Metro Christian Academy, Tulsa, Okla. Adopted from China.

8. Joe Hubble, J.J. Pearce High School, Dallas, Texas. Adopted from Korea.

9. Lauren Lusk, Booker T. Washington High School, Tulsa, Okla.

10. Macy McAnally, Full Armor Christian Academy, Laneville, Texas. Adopted at age 16 from Hong Kong.

11. Andy and Alex McClain, Broken Arrow High School, Broken Arrow, Okla. Fraternal twins adopted from Russia.

12. Laura Grace Meshek, Cleveland High School, Cleveland, Okla. Adopted from China.

13. Kimi Phillips, home school, Abilene, Texas.  Adopted from Korea.

14. Shaylin Regier, Chisholm High School, Enid, Okla. Adopted from China.

15. Emily Wright, Bixby High School, Bixby, Okla. Adopted from China.

16. Luke Veldt, Grace International School, Chiang Mai, Thailand. Adopted from India.

17. Abby Kazee, Keystone High School, Missouri. Adopted from India.

18. Thomas Gregory Fleming, Casady School, Oklahoma City, Okla. Adopted from Korea.

Learning from Haiti

Haiti Blog 3

haitiLearning from others across the globe has always been a passion of mine. Understanding how others solve problems, empower people and serve is something that I have enjoyed when traveling on mission trips. I find that learning from others is how we make our own communities stronger. Whether those communities are within our families, our neighborhood, or our world, there is always something new we can learn.

Dillon has decided to provide opportunities for others to connect and share their hearts with other ministries all over the world. We hope that what we learn will help us serve and transform our communities and challenge the way we see the world.

Through service, we’ll learn, grow and empower ourselves and others.

Dillon’s mission trips have given me the opportunity for personal growth and learning. I’ve acquired a greater understanding of other cultures, learned how other agencies serve and formed relationships with some amazing people across the globe. Our mission trip program is about building bonds, growing understanding and serving others by listening to their needs.

I know as an American, I have grown up in a culture of timetables and lists for each day. Sometimes I feel we get so stuck in doing things according to pre-planned lists that we miss some of the greatest moments in life. When traveling on the Haiti Mission Trip the first time, I learned from a culture that is not so stuck on timetables and itineraries.

Instead, I learned to enjoy the beautiful moments in life without being so concerned about sticking to an itinerary.

Those moments included loving on the smiling child sitting next to me. Or painting beds…which I admit did not seem so important to me until I learned that it meant the world to the housemothers who wanted to keep the rooms looking nice for the children they serve.

Each time I travel on a mission trip, I learn something new about myself and others. Those that we serve are also our teachers; they can teach us a new way of seeing the world.

This year Dillon will be taking two Sharing Heart Mission trips: One to Uganda and the other to Haiti. We’ll be working with agencies that have established missions in each country who know the needs and locations for service. We are so excited to begin the growth of our missions program and hope that as we travel around the globe we come home with a new way of seeing our own communities.

To learn more about our two Sharing Heart Mission Trips, visit the Uganda page and the Haiti page.

—Lisa Leung, Dillon’s Supervisor of Events and Tours

10 ways to help an adoptive family

raking leaves
Top 10 Ways Friends and Family Can Help

10. Rake the leaves, mow the grass or shovel snow when the family is traveling to receive the child and for the first couple weeks after they get home.

9. Offer to care for the family’s pet and check the mail while they’re traveling.

8. Clean the family’s car or van, which will need some TLC, too.

7. Bring over a casserole to make dinners easier.

6. Start a Meal Train.

5. Make a donation to the family to help with adoption fees.

4. Offer to babysit the other children. It will be awhile before the newly adopted child is ready to be away from mom and dad, but the siblings will be ready right away!

3. Don’t bring lavish gifts for the new child or try to make yourself the child’s favorite person. Remember, the child needs to be bonding with the parents first.

2. Continue to call, text and visit even if the family seems withdrawn. They’ll be focused on the new child, but they’ll appreciate that you’re staying in touch and offering to help.

1. Don’t expect the family to be perfect quickly. Building trust and attachment takes time.

You’ve finally done it! You’ve started the adoption process. You’re so excited to announce your joyous news to family and friends.

“How can we help?” they’ll ask. You have great friends, awesome in-laws, caring cousins….who may have no clue where to begin without a few specific ideas from you.

Here are some suggestions you may want to share with friends and relatives who are looking for ways to support you during the adoption process that will hopefully turn would-be bloopers into bliss for all concerned.

Learn together.

Invite your loved ones to learn the basics of adoption by accessing information materials from your agency’s website or by attending an introductory workshop about adoption (like our free adoption information webinar). Help them avoid putting their foot in their mouth by sharing some information on positive adoption language. Encourage them to read a book about adoptive parenting. (The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis is a great one.) And don’t forget that learning can be fun, too: Ask them to join you in a cooking class to learn how to make dishes from your child’s native country. Or practice learning a few phrases in the language of your child’s birth country together.

By understanding a bit about the unique process, terminology and challenges of becoming a parent through adoption, they’ll be prepared to be the wonderful source of support that they want to be.

(Gently) let them know what not to do.

As you go along in your adoption process and the paperwork weariness starts to set in, you’ll likely develop your very own hot-button question: The one that secretly makes you crazy every time you hear it.

For many waiting families, it’s “When is he coming home?” or “Have you heard anything new?” Try to curtail the repeated questions by letting them know in advance how difficult the wait will be for you and assure them that you will keep everyone in the loop as important milestones approach.

When the child comes home

Another common area of concern that new adoptive parents often face occurs in the first weeks after their child comes home. They’re trying to keep things quiet and build trust and attachment with their child while fending off a small army of loving relatives who want to shower their new addition with hugs, food, toys and trips to Disneyland.

This is another area where you can be proactive. Talk to your close friends and relatives about how important it will be for your family to have some quiet time in the first few weeks after your child comes home. Let them know how happy you are that they’re excited, too, and that the opportunity for them to become your child’s favorite grandparent, aunt or cousin will come. You just need some time to bond with one another first.

Ask for help

Let them know when you need help. If you are comfortable talking about money and adoption expenses pose financial hurdles to your family, say so. Let your loved ones know that you would rather receive a cash gift to help out with adoption costs rather than a birthday or Christmas present this year. Or, consider asking your friends or church family if they would be able to help you organize a garage sale or other fundraiser.

And then there’s the time you travel for your child’s adoption. International travel is never stress-free; factor in the challenges of traveling with a child you just met and…well, you’re going to need some help. If you’re a single parent, let a trusted friend or family member know how much you and your child would benefit from having someone travel with you to be a support person during this beautiful-yet-exhausting adventure. And if you have other children who won’t be accompanying you on your adoption trip, you’ll need the help of your support team to care of them while you are away.

Once you are home, your newly enlarged family will need quiet and privacy, but you’ll also need an equal measure of help.

While you’re busy getting to know one another and settling in to a new family routine, laundry and dishes have a way of piling up. Let your friends and family know that you could really benefit from someone coming over to mow the grass/shovel snow, drop off a casserole, or help with the housework during the first few weeks after you arrive home.

Be specific.

Most friends and relatives who offer a generic “if you ever need anything, just call me,” really do mean it; however, they can’t read your mind. With a few specific suggestions, you and your child will have an all-star support team and a much broader and deeper definition of family.

—Susan Serrano

Meet your match!

“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.


Calling grandparents!

Calling all adoptees and adoptive families, our
Guatemala and Vietnam birthland tours are departing for adventures this fall and winter. Reserve your spot today!

Lapolla12All Aboard!

Dillon’s tours are not just for kids and parents. Grandparents are very welcome, too! We know. We did it. What did we think? Read on.

Ten years ago our grandson arrived in the U.S. from Korea. Our son and his wife adopted him as an infant through Dillon. We had only a limited idea who Chris was, where he came from and what kind of grandson he would become. The birthland tour helped us answer all those questions. We have since learned he is a neat kid who came from an advanced country with a rich culture.

What is the Tour?Lapolla1

Last year his parents committed to the 2015 Visit Korea Tour through Dillon. It would be Chris’ first return visit. We were invited to join them. We initially dismissed the offer thinking that this is not for grandparents and we should just stay out of the way. We were wrong. Upon further thought, we changed our minds and committed to the trip.

Our 10-day experience was in late June 2015. Four other families accompanied us. Our group had nine kids ages 7-22, nine parents, one aunt – and one set of grandparents: us. A Korean tour guide from Seoul and two Dillon staff members accompanied us every day.

We are experienced travelers, but have never visited the Far East. So believe us when we say that the organization by Dillon provided a wonderful tour that was a super value. The tour was much more than just sightseeing. It had the higher purpose of bonding the kids with their home country and culture.

Other than sightseeing, Dillon incorporated experiences families could enjoy together. We had a cooking class at a culinary school, were instructed how to conduct and participate in a formal tea ceremony, attended a stage show, and had a pottery-making class taught by a Korean master.

Our grandson knew some language, was familiar with culture and customs and knows the food. Where did he learn this? It was from his parents and at Dillon’s summer Korea Heritage Camp and other Dillon programs. Now that we think back, we realized that Chris wanted to make sure that we saw and experienced “his” Korea. He loved teaching us and showing us how much he knew.

What did we learn?

Before the trip the names Dillon International and Eastern Social Welfare Services were abstract to us. After visiting Eastern, and during our trip, we learned firsthand that both agencies are first class – and that they care about “their” kids and families. The staff members at Eastern in Seoul were gracious hosts and treated us like family during our visit with them.

We have often wondered what Chris thinks about his Korean heritage, and, of course, realized he doesn’t know. He is an Oklahoman! We learned that South Korea is an advanced first world country with a terrific culture – and that Chris should be and will be proud of his birth heritage. When people ask us about Korea we fall back to some unique experiences. For example, where in the U.S. can you send email over Wi-Fi on a train going 185 miles per hour? Where in the world can you go and never see a bit of litter in subways, train stations, airports or the city streets? Where do you go to visit an industrious people with impeccable manners and courtesy? The answer is Korea.

What about being grandparents with such a group?

It was never an issue with the group. It was quite satisfying to see all of the adults share in the goal of making this a special experience for the kids. And it was terrific to see the kids naturally bond and look out for each other. One concern we did have was how we would be received by Koreans. It was obvious that Chris was adopted and we worried that there may be some misplaced resentment towards us. Not so! Everyone we met in Korea was uniformly gracious and unfailingly offered us seats on crowded public transit. Maybe it was our gray hair? All in all, we were relaxed, welcomed and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Should you do it?

Absolutely! As grandparents, you will offer a unique perspective with the maturity of your years. And it was fun to watch the others enjoy it all so much.

Bottom line? If you are a grandparent and have the chance to go on a birthland tour, sign up now. Just do it! You will thank us later.

—Mike and Carol Lapolla, Oklahoma

Dillons’ 50th anniversary

dillon cover

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

Aug2015boys in vietnam

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 elderly aunt who could no longer care for him.

Since late 2014, he has been living at a social welfare center. He like to swim, play soccer, do art and use computers. Unfortunately, his family never was able to send him to school, so he just started first grade recently and will need a family who is willing to support him academically.

He gets along well with others and is eager to learn.

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.

Password Reset
Please enter your e-mail address. You will receive a new password via e-mail.