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Wanted: adoptive families

Hollywood celebrities aren’t the only ones adopting international children these days.

Dillon International, Inc., an Oklahoma-based international adoption agency with an Orange County office serving all of Southern California, is actively seeking host families for adoptees from the countries of China, India, Vietnam, Korea and Haiti.

Dillon International is committed to providing the best possible lifetime of care for homeless children in developing countries. Every effort is made for children to remain with their original family or to be placed for adoption within their country of birth. When these options are not possible, children are then placed with families in the United States and on-going, post-adoptive support is provided for the life of each child. Dillon is also committed to assisting with foster and orphanage care as well as with educational, medical and therapeutic services for the homeless children remaining in other countries who may never be adopted.

The international adoption agency has placed more than 5,500 children throughout the United States during its 35-year history.

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Hedy Lee, adoption coordinator for Dillon, is coming to the seminar room of La Jolla Public Library, 7555 Draper Ave., Saturday, June 16 for a free informational meeting on international adoption.

Lee pointed out Dillon is more than just an adoption agency. “Half of what they do is humanitarian aid to better the lives of children in impoverished areas, not just orphans,” she said. “They’ve touched a lot of lives.”

There are many benefits to adopting an international child versus a domestic one. Said Lee: “People have various reason for going overseas. Some families choose to go with a child from a country of their heritage or culture. Some find it easier maybe to adopt a healthy infant. There’s not as long of a wait as with domestic adoptions.”

Of Korean lineage, Lee herself has adopted two children from her native land. She described the process involved in adopting an international child as “methodical.” A family has to submit a formal application. Then a home study is conducted to ensure those applying are as capable of being adoptive parents as they are willing. Then the family is matched with an appropriate child from a foreign country.

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One successful Dillon International adoptee who will be speaking at the June 16 adoption meeting in La Jolla is Jennifer Anderson. Anderson was 4 years old and her sister was 1 1/2 years of age when their destitute Korean family put them up for adoption. The pair were adopted and raised by a California family. They’ve since become adults, married and had children, and even found their birth mother through the aid of Dillon.

“They (Dillon) actually found her in less than a year,” said Anderson. “She wanted to be found. My biological father had passed away leaving her with four children from a previous marriage, along with the two of us. After my father died she couldn’t financially care for all of us, so she chose to give us up for adoption.”

The family reunion has a happy ending. Anderson’s birth mother is now in California visiting her long-lost daughters and her grandchildren.

Anderson feels she owes a debt to the internatinal adoption agency. “I don’t know if I’d be alive right now if Dillon hadn’t placed us,” she said. “We’ve been given a pretty good life. We’ve been living the American dream.”

But Anderson cautioned there are cultural issues which make adopting an international child more difficult for the adopting family. “Lots of times, parents don’t know how to help them to assimilate,” she said. “I was adopted by a caucasian family, in a caucasian community from Oklahoma which was very Southern.”

But most problems with assimilating to a new culture for foreign adoptees can be overcome with kindness and caring by their adopting family. Speaking from personal experience, Anderson said: “I knew I was loved and that I was part of the family and I was their child. That’s really the most important thing, that and letting the child be who they are, and what they are.”

Anderson had this advice to give to families considering adopting foreign children. " “Don’t go into this thinking you’re saving a poor child from a possible horrible life,” she said. “Go into it with the hope of creating a family. That should be the ultimate goal. It’s all about you wanting a family, and wanting a child to love.”

Dillon International, Inc., is a licensed, not-for-profit child placement agency that has specialized in international adoption since 1972. Dillon International was founded by Jerry and Deniese Dillon to meet the needs of the thousands of homeless Korean orphans.

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Centrally located in the United States, Dillon International is home-based in Tulsa, Oklahoma and was the first licensed international adoption agency in that state. The agency has volunteer adoptive families scattered across the United States. Each participating country in the agency’s adoption program has invited Dillon International to help find homes for their homeless children.

Additionally, Dillon International has helped to underwrite hospitals, orphanages and schools in Korea, India, China, and most recently in Vietnam.

With its lifetime commitment to children and families, Dillon International provides a variety of post-adoption services to assist families with integrating their child’s birth heritage into their family’s traditions, and to help instill a sense of pride and self-worth for each adoptee in his/her birth country. Some of these services include heritage camps for children, birthland tours, adoptive family gatherings, internet discussion forums, and an adult adoptee forum.

For more information about the June 16 Dillon meeting call (714) 734-8600 or visit www.dillonadopt.com.