It was very similar to the party they hosted for her last year, but with one key difference: She was now an official member of the Stahla family. Valentina first met her parents, Tim and Shannon Stahla, shortly before her 14th birthday when she traveled from an orphanage in Colombia to the United States for the vacation of a lifetime through Dillon International’s hosting program.
The three-week visit was a great way for the couple to get to know the bright, outgoing teen that Tim and Shannon first encountered on Dillon’s Waiting Child listings. “I really identified with her story and felt like we wanted the same things in life,” Shannon recalled.
Valentina’s visit, timed during the Christmas holidays, was a whirlwind of activities and the Stahla’s had fun experiencing America through her eyes. “The pace was fast and furious. We had a great time with all the activities and getting to know Valentina,” Tim said. “No matter what, we wanted her to have a good time. We tried to do as many things as possible.”
“In fact, future host families might want to relax a little more than we did,” Shannon added with a laugh. “It’s also important to allow some time to be yourself and let the child see what being in a family is really like.”
Although hefty doses of flexibility and resilience have sometimes been called for as everyone has adjusted to their new life together, the Stahlas agree that adopting a teen was God’s plan for their family. “Even on the hard days, we know we’ve done the right thing,” Tim said. “The hosting program was an important part of helping us determine that this was something we could do.”
The program is a chance to make a lasting difference in a child’s life, Shannon added. “Even if a family decides not to adopt, hosting a child is still a wonderful way to have a huge impact on these kids and they have the opportunity to remain in contact by becoming a Godparent.”
Tulsa area host families are urgently needed to help us welcome seven children, ages 13-15, who will be visiting through our Colombia hosting program this July. The program also needs donations, prayers and volunteers or organizations to host events or contribute services. We hope you’ll take a moment to learn more about how to get involved with this important program to increase awareness of the older children who wait for families.
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
Guatemala Heritage Weekend is just around the bend and I can’t wait! The sweet families, fun activities, great food, awesome culture, and the ice cream sundaes are all things that I have been looking forward to ever since I started working at Dillon in October.
One of the biggest reasons that I just can’t wait for this specific camp is because of the special place that Latin America, and Guatemala specifically, hold in my heart. I was born in Kansas; however, I call Mexico my home. I lived there with my family for five years and believe that they were some of the most meaningful years of my life. The warm culture, the colorful people, and the loud music are things that I cherish dearly about the Latin culture.
Now you may be asking, “Why do you say Guatemala holds such a special place in your heart?” Well, one of the most precious little people in my life came from that beautiful country. My younger sister, who just turned 13, became an official part of our family a little more than 10 years ago on the day before her third birthday. I had the incredible opportunity to travel with my family twice during her adoption process and cannot wait to go back someday very soon.
Needless to say, I am counting down the days until Guatemala Weekend and I am so excited to meet everyone who will be there!
—Marissa Parr, Lifetime Support Services Assistant
Seven Colombian children will make the trip of a lifetime as they travel to Oklahoma for a three-week visit with American host families in July 2015.
Dillon’s hosting program brings older children who are residing in Colombian institutions and foster care homes to the United States for a fun-filled vacation experience. The program provides children a chance to learn about American culture, share their Colombian culture, and experience living in a family.
The program allows host families the opportunity to make a difference in the life of a child. The program also provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the need for adoptive families for older children and children who are part of a sibling group.
“Every night in Colombia, approximately 60,000 children in the care of the country’s child protection system fall asleep uncertain of what the future holds for their lives. Sadly adoption for most of these children will never come true in their birth country, where the majority of adoptions involve young, healthy children,” Schoborg said. “We have the opportunity to change these children’s lives dramatically through adoption,” Schoborg added. “Every child deserves the love of a family.”
Tulsa area host families are needed for the program.
Host families will receive assistance from social work staff and volunteer translators throughout the children’s visit, said hosting program coordinator Angela Lievano-Hess.
The children and their host families will also be treated to a variety of fun, child-centered activities and get-togethers throughout their visit, Lievano-Hess said. Some planned activities include a trip to the zoo, miniature golf and arcade games and swimming.
The children who will be visiting through this year’s hosting program are ages 13 to 15 years old. All are eligible for intercountry adoption, Schoborg added.
“We encourage Tulsa area families to consider being part of a miracle by opening their hearts and homes to these special visitors in July,” Schoborg said. “And we hope everyone—regardless of their address—will join us in advocating and praying for the thousands of children in Colombia who are waiting for a family.”
To learn more about hosting a child from Colombia through Dillon International, please email Angela Lievano.
To learn more about Dillon International’s Colombia adoption program, please email Denise Schoborg.
China’s Centre for Children’s Welfare and Adoption recently announced greater flexibility in its adoption guidelines. The new regulations—which take effect January 1, 2015, and impact families with dossiers logged in after this date—were developed in order to better help children in need find suitable families, according to an announcement from the CCCWA.
Under the new guidelines, more families will be considered to adopt a non-special-focus child (typically a younger child with minor or correctable special needs).
Here are a few highlights from the recently announced changes.
Singles and couples over the age of 50 are now permitted to adopt either a non-special-focus or special-focus child. The age difference between the youngest member of an adoptive couple and the adopted child must be no more than 50 years. The age difference between a single adoptive mother and the adoptee should be no more than 45 years.
In addition to being eligible to adopt special-focus children, single mothers may now apply to adopt a non-special focus child.
Couples with more than five children living at home are now eligible to adopt either a special-focus or non-special-focus child.
Singles may have no more than two children currently living at home and the youngest child must be 6 years old or older. A single mother with three children under the age of 18 in the home is ineligible to apply to adopt from China.
The CCCWA requires a minimum family income of $10,000 per family member (including the prospective adoptee). For singles, the minimum family income follows the same guideline plus an additional $10,000. A couple’s net worth must be at least $80,000 and a single mother’s net worth must be at least $100,000. HOWEVER a family whose annual income and net worth is lower than the stated guidelines may be considered if they can document that their locale has a lower cost of living and that their income is above-average for their area.
The most significant change in the guidelines is that the CCCWA will now consider applicants who are taking medication to treat minor depression or anxiety provided that the symptoms are minor, stable, and under good control.
Additional details on the new guidelines, which cover the areas of family eligibility, child placement, CCCWA adoption service fees, and post-placement reporting and fees, will soon be updated on our China Program page and in our online Adoption Guide. Please contact our China Program Director with specific questions.
To learn more about our China program, and all of Dillon International’s adoption services, register online to attend a free information webinar. Our next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 11.
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.
Like 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!
The opening of our new Special Adoption Program begins a wonderful new chapter in our long history of serving the children of Vietnam. We’re excited about this opportunity to find families for some of the country’s most vulnerable children, including children with special needs, children over age 5 and sibling groups.
We wanted to take a moment to fill you in on the latest updates in all our adoption programs.
There continues to be a tremendous need for families for children in our Korea program and we have great news for Korea adoptive families who have wanted to adopt again but were deterred by the age requirements. The maximum age for parents who have previously adopted from Korea has been raised to 49 ½ at the time of application. The more flexible age guidelines also apply to Korean adoptees or married couples with both spouses of Korean heritage.
Grants are available to cover the International Fee for the adoption of ALL waiting children from Hong Kong. Currently 13 children, ages 6 to 13, are waiting for families. Some of these precious kids have been waiting for years and need families who are committed to a lifetime of care. We recently received updates on several of the children, so if it has been awhile since you’ve visited the Waiting Child page on the Dillon website, please check in again!
Our China program has entered One-to-One agreements with orphanages in the Hainan and Guangdong provinces. We are thankful for the opportunity to serve the children in these facilities, both through adoption and humanitarian aid. There continues to be a great need for adoptive families open to parenting children with medical and developmental needs.
Good news for children in Colombia! The nation’s Institute for Family Welfare is reviewing the cases of thousands of children in its custody to determine if adoption would be in their best interest. Previous regulations kept many children in limbo: unable to be reunited with their birth families, but not declared available for adoption. We’re looking for families who are open to parenting older children and teens who have experienced loss and trauma.
Our India program, which re-opened in December 2013, continues to accept applications. Families are needed for children with special needs, particularly children ages 6 and older. Younger children generally have more significant special needs. Families with NRI (Non-resident Indian) or OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) status may apply to adopt a child without special needs.
Five children have arrived home so far this year, and other families’ dossiers are currently in Haiti. Our Haiti program is not presently accepting new applications while the country implements Hague standards. Updates will be posted on the Dillon website.
Pre-teen and teenage children in Oklahoma’s foster care system are waiting for permanent adoptive families. Oklahoma families are encouraged to consider our new program with the state’s Department of Human Services.
Dillon’s Open Options program—which allows applicants to have paperwork ready to qualify for a variety of programs—launched at the beginning of this year and has been a very popular choice for families who are uncertain about which adoption program is right for them. The program’s goal is to help more children find families who are farther along in the adoption process.
No matter what stage of the adoption journey you’re in, we would love to have you join us for an upcoming webinar, where you will learn more about the adoption process and all of our programs.
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:
This 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.
If you’ve been wanting to learn more about adoption, you’re in luck!
Dillon’s webinar will answer most of your questions in less than an hour.
No matter what stage of the adoption journey you’re in … whether you are researching the possibilities or are ready to turn in your application … we are confident that this webinar will benefit you. What’s more, it will benefit the children who are waiting for a family just like yours.
Please select your meeting preference below. We will email you back with the webinar link. If you’re registering on a weekend, please give us a little extra time to send back the link.
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)