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Orphan Sunday

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By Karin Price, Executive Director

Do you know who we honor on November 12, 2017? It is the one Sunday set aside each year to acknowledge and help children identified as “orphan” or “foster child”.  Throughout the world 15 million children have lost both parents and 130 million children do not live with parents.

In November, places of worship throughout the world will pray, educate and collect funds to improve the quality of life for children. In some countries, churches will collect funds to keep families together, as well as support orphanages. During a trip to Tanzania, I met with three churches helping children stay with their parents and funding the local orphanages when parents passed away. Each year more countries celebrate Orphan Sunday.

One year we supported several families in Asia who brought their children to the local orphanage because they could no longer afford to feed the children. Each family faced a crisis when one parent died.  The support we provided kept the families together and in six months the microbusiness established by the families flourished. They became self-supporting which prevented children from entering an orphanage.

Yet, we know too many children live in orphanages and foster homes. Children need permanent families. This month, Dillon International, Inc. is joining others at Adoption Fairs, Foster/Adopt Parent Recruitment Workshops and Orphan Care events. We commend those places of worship and child focused organizations that are giving adoption grants to bring children home and collecting donations to help children living away from their families.  When Jesus lived on earth, he loved and cared for children. Let’s follow his example.

How to Write Good by Ryan Higa’s – Book Review

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By Michelle James, Adoptive Mother

I happened upon this book in Walmart, and intrigued by the young Asian man on the cover, I picked it up.  I’m the mom of a 12-year-old Vietnamese boy, and Asian adult role models are rare.  As I read the blurb on the back of the book I was further intrigued to learn that the author is a famous You-Tuber (the very profession to which my son aspires) and the book is about overcoming adversity (a perfect topic for every middle schooler).

I pre-read the book since I was completely unfamiliar with the author, Ryan Higa, and it is definitely not for any child under the age of twelve.  Mr. Higa uses lots of bad language.  I reminded my son that he is mature enough to read bad words without repeating them, and we have not had any issues.  The author also writes candidly about using weight loss drugs when he was on the wrestling team in high school.  He does make it clear that it was a mistake and discourages kids from following his example.

That being said, my son has really enjoyed this book.  He was less than enthused at first, given the title, but I assured him it really wasn’t about writing but more about this You-Tuber’s life story.  It’s very readable, with cartoons and graphics mixed into the text, and the humor is spot on for a tween boy.  My son has read the book through once and is now reading it again.  He likes to tell us about the funny parts, such as “the stereotypical Asian parent grading scale” where “A stands for Average.  B stands for Better try harder.  C stands for Care for an a** whooping?  D stands for Don’t come home,” and “F stands for Forgiveness . . . as in, Forgive me, for I have murdered my child.”

The book has also been a great conversation starter for us.  We’ve talked about the author’s drug use and about his being called a “chink” even though he wasn’t even Chinese.  (Higa is native Hawaiian.)  My son, thankfully, had never heard the word “chink,” but I’m sure he’ll hear it eventually, and maybe he won’t feel as isolated knowing others have gone through the same thing.

My son and I have also talked a lot about Higa’s use of humor to “disarm” those who tried to bully him.  Higa writes very candidly about being an Asian kid in a mostly white school and how he was bullied to the point that he felt suicidal.  Higa ended up dealing with the bullies by using humor.  He noticed that all the kids would laugh at the things the bullies said and did.  He learned to turn the humor around so the kids were laughing at the bullies instead.  I don’t think this strategy would actually work for every child, but even so it’s a great place to start the conversation about strategies to deal with bullying.  My son is something of a comedian, and he really enjoyed reading about Higa’s eventual victories over the bullies.

Higa also stresses the gift of perspective.  He encourages kids to remember that middle school and high school don’t last forever, even though it feels like it sometimes.  YouTube didn’t even exist when he was in middle school, so he never could have imagined the turns his life would take.

My son has really enjoyed this book, and I would recommend it for adopted Asian kiddos ages twelve and up.  Read it and talk about it – you might be surprised what’s going on in your kid’s head!

Bringing the Gift of Education

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Starting the school year for us here in the United States is filled with supply shopping, backpack stuffing, and the long dreaded new wake-up call routine.  Then before we know it the first day of school arrives, a photo is taken and your child races off to their classroom or to their new school area in the house.  In the middle of the back to school chaos we sometimes forget what a gift education really is for our children.  There are so many around the world who do not have the option to go to school.

Dillon has always had a heart and a vision to help children, families, and communities in the countries in which we work.  Working in partnership with Vietnam for over 10 years, Dillon has been able to purchase books, uniforms, and cover tuition for around 400 students each year.  This partnership was created out of a vision that education is planting the seed for future economic growth and working toward family sustainability.  One young woman expressed her thankfulness for the scholarships she received because since her parents died, she has been able to support her siblings.  Dillon continues to pursue the goal of keeping families together and empowering children to reach their full potential.

We have seen huge success with the Vietnam education sponsorship program.  Many students who received a scholarship in this program have gone on to gain their college degrees and promising careers, allowing for each of those graduates to be able to pay for their own children to attend school.  All it takes is for one drop of investment to create a ripple effect of change through generations.

As the new school year begins in Vietnam, we are hoping you will be able partner with us in helping as many children in Vietnam as we can this school year.  The cost to cover one child’s tuition, books, and uniform is $100.  Whether you are able to cover multiple children, one child or partial scholarship of a child, each donation will make a huge impact.  

Jazz Concert Fundraiser!

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Dinner and Jazz Concert
Featuring Eric Marienthal
November 4, 2017
University City, Mo.

We are honored that one of our very own Dillon dads, classical pianist and Emmy Award-winning composer Michael Silverman, will be presenting jazz saxophonist Eric Marienthal as a benefit concert for Dillon International.

The show will start at 7 p.m. November 4th at Mandarin House Banquet Hall, 8004 Olive in University City, Mo. Doors will open at 6:00 p.m.

About Eric Marienthal

In 1977, Marienthal began studying at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass. mariBy the time he left Berklee, he had achieved the highest possible proficiency rating given by the school. He has since gone on to perform in over 80 different countries, recorded 13 solo CDs and has played on hundreds of records, films, television shows and commercial jingles.

Among his 13 solo CD’s, his latest is titled “It’s Love,” on Peak Records. Nine of the songs that Marienthal has recorded have made it to the top 10 of the National Contemporary Jazz Radio Charts and three have made it to No. 1. Marienthal was voted the year’s “Favorite Alto Sax Players” in the Jazziz Magazine Reader’s Poll along with David Sanborn and Phil Woods.

Eric has also written three instructional books, “Comprehensive Jazz Studies & Exercises,” The Ultimate Jazz Play Along” and “The Music Of Eric Marienthal,” as well as three instructional videos, “Play Sax From Day One,” “Modern Sax” and “Tricks Of The Trade,” all published by Alfred Publishing/Belwin Jazz.

About Mike SilvermanBachToTheFuture

Silverman’s own band, Bach to the Future, will bring the classics of Bach, Beethoven and Mozart to life with modern jazz, African and Latin rhythms, as well as a variety of wild instruments, including a drumitar, keytar and a violin that glows when it is played.

Silverman was moved to produce the benefit concert because he wants to help more children come home to their families, just like his son, who came home in 2010.

To register click here!

 

 

Ready for School?

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by Karin Price, LMSW

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

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

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

Here are some other ideas to prepare for school:

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

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

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

Korea Program – Urgent Need for Families

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

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

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

An Adoptee’s Reflection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yvonne, adoptee and adoptive mom

Florida licensing

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

What does this mean for you?

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

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

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

Please do not start your home study until:

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

For more information, call Maren Brose at 918.748.5614.

Catholic families needed

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

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

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

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

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

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

Single men may adopt a boy only.

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

Families from all 50 states may inquire.

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

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

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

The joy of boys

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No buddy like a brother

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

I love being a boy mom!

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

An extraordinary privilege

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

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

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

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

Or maybe mothers have dreams of frills and princesses.

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

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

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

Emily Williams, Dillon Korea Mom to two awesome boys

Want to learn more about adoption? Join us for the next adoption webinar!

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