“The world is my oyster,” a line from Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” has a generalized meaning — if you have enough resources you can have anything. I like to use that phrase to describe my world in the context of the precious gifts that I have from the world, the gift of children.
My world and that of my immediate and larger family has been enriched through international adoption. My youngest daughter, an adoptee from China, has graced our family and community these past 19 years. Her presence and success in our family helped my middle daughter and her husband adopt our newest grandchild, a toddler boy from Korea. The world, as you can see, is my oyster.
Where did these worldly gifts come from? They came from Dillon International, a private, licensed, non-profit agency, which specializes in international adoption.
Dillon International was founded in 1972 by Deniese and Jerry Dillon whose first mission was to open Christian orphanages in countries with populations of young orphan children. Their hearts led them to raise money and support these orphanages. They ultimately were led to facilitate international adoptions and find loving families in America for these young children. They opened orphanages in South Korea, Hong Kong, India, Vietnam and Haiti.
Deniese and Jerry Dillon answered a pressing need in China through adoption, when governmental decree and cultural preferences led to an abundance of baby girls in orphanages throughout China. When there was a need to protect children and form families, they found a way to answer the call. My daughter Kailynn, one of these blessings, was brought to me from China by Dillon International.
The Dillons started small and many people don’t know that Jerry Dillon took no salary so that the organization was able to sustain its mission to assist orphanages. Jerry and Deniese Dillon were led by their faith and their pastor, the esteemed Warren Hultgren, who served on their board of advisers. The Dillon board has had the support of many committed Tulsans and local foundations who believe in adoption and assisted them with its mission of creating strong families.
These contributions did not stop with orphanages and adoptions. Dillon International recognized the need to integrate these children into their communities, and yet encourage the children to maintain their backgrounds and ethnicities. To this end, Dillon sponsors heritage camps that provide education about birth homes and it sponsors birth land tours for adoptees and their families. Post-adoption services allow for full integration of adoptees and their families. Amazingly, all needs are addressed whether your child is a Dillon adoptee or an adoptee from another agency.
Dillon has placed over 6,500 children in loving Oklahoma families and throughout the United States. Dillon International is highly regarded by the U.S. State Department and is one of the most respected international adoption agencies in the world. In addition to supporting adoption sites and facilitating adoptions and post-adoption services, Dillon has helped sponsor national legislation to aid families in their adoptions.
Tulsans are lucky to have Dillon International as a working partner to our city.
My Dillion experience includes the many times we have celebrated the Lunar New Year dressed in Chinese clothing and partaking in ethnic food. We have enjoyed dragon dances, art and music, much of which would not have been on our to-do list except for the addition of Kailynn in our lives.
Now our family is on another national education journey with the addition of Channing, our Korean grandchild. Already my American-born granddaughters are wearing traditional Korean clothing and eating Korean food. There is so much enrichment for our entire family in these experiences.
Our family has some very eclectic roots. Some members can trace their direct roots to the Mayflower, and my oldest children identify as Native American with a rich cultural heritage of Pottawatomie and French origins. Everyone was raised with family ties and lore that makes them appreciate origins. To this mix comes my youngest child from Wuhan, China. Along with her newer American leanings, she retains her national roots through guided learning. The rest of the family now revels in their histories, as we are a nation of proud immigrants.
There is this one story that I enjoy telling. Last fall, I was in my backyard with my Chinese daughter and my Korean grandson and into this mix comes my renter, a young Oklahoma State University graduate from Saudi Arabia. We acknowledged the number of nations represented in the back yard, and I posited that surely my house was the United Nations of 19th Street.
As many, many American presidents have said, we are a nation of immigrants; I believe that our strength as a nation comes from the best of all nationalities and Dillon International, by grace and adoption, has helped make us strong.
Lynn Jones is a retired Tulsa Police major, community volunteer and a member of the Tulsa World Community Advisory Board. Opinion pieces by board members appear in this space each week.