Forty Years of Beautiful Families

I spent this past week in Washington D.C. in a hotel where my computer would not cooperate with the “free” WiFi. So my phone became my computer, but I absolutely could not bring myself to write a blog post using a touch screen the size of my wallet. I know the world is moving toward mobile, but it most certainly is a movement of people with sharper vision and more nimble finger dexterity. I like my 15-inch macbook with the command+ key.

Last Sunday evening before we took our early morning flight to D.C., we celebrated with our adoption agency. Ten years ago we adopted a dragon baby (Alison was born in 2000, the year of the Dragon), and last Sunday night we participated in a Lunar New Year dinner celebrating “Forty Years of Families.” Dillon International, our agency, was founded in 1972, hence the celebration. And, in case you didn’t know, this Lunar New Year is once again the Year of the Dragon. After twelve years of rat, monkey, horse, snake, rabbit, etc., we’re back to the dragon. The first time since 2000.

Dillon International is our adoption agency, not only because they helped us bring our daughter home and now Kyle works there (a beautiful irony), but because over 30 years ago they helped open my eyes to the beauty of a different kind of adoption. I grew up knowing the founders of the agency, Jerry and Deniese Dillon, because they were friends with my parents and we all attended the same church. As an adopted child, I knew that adoption was one way to build a family, although we rarely talked about it in those terms. There was little attention to the language of adoption and we certainly didn’t spend much time discussing it. Some kids were and most kids weren’t. That was about the extent of it. If I pressed my parents, they would remind me how special adoption was – how God chose special children for special parents. But for an adopted kid, “special” is a relative term that often is translated “different.” I knew that the Dillons founded an adoption agency, but I don’t remember talking about it with my parents. Then, a baby girl named Mia appeared in our midst. There was a small crowd in the nursery the first day her parents brought her to church and my friend Polly and I were immediately smitten by this tiny girl with the black hair and eyes. We begged to work in the baby room so we could hold her, but we didn’t meet the age requirement so we stood at the half-door of the nursery like star-struck fans.

A couple named Mike and Diane adopted Mia from Korea, a country I knew almost nothing about. I was fascinated. They had two older boys who looked like a combination of mother and father, and now they had a little girl who looked nothing like any of them. She had almond eyes that disappeared when she smiled and straight black hair that stuck up like a fountain when they clipped it in little pink bows. She was Asian and they were not, and now she was their daughter. The five of them together turned heads in those days, but everyone in our church embraced the variety of these families and people began to talk about adoption. A few more children from Korea were brought home by other families and the variety began to seem almost normal. I thought these were the most beautiful kind of families I had ever seen.

I still do.

Last Sunday night, I looked around the ballroom of the hotel where we held our dinner and saw a room full of these most beautiful kind of families. Parents that look different than their Korean, Chinese, Indian, Guatemalan, Vietnamese, Haitian, African, and African-American children. Variety. The barriers of color and ethnicity torn away so that families can be completed. Do these children have identity issues? Yes. But so do I. And so do you. When we open our arms to each other and love despite the differences, we are able to fill up so many of the holes that we carry around in our hearts – both children and parents.

I’m so incredibly grateful to our adoption agency for helping bring Alison to us. Three decades after I met little Mia, my own daughter has now taught me about loving and bonding and becoming a most beautiful kind of family.

3 thoughts on “Forty Years of Beautiful Families

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