Another Adoption Agency Closes—and Charges Adoptees for Their Own Records

Dillon International, a 51-year-old U.S. international adoption agency based in Oklahoma, having placed for adoption some 7000 children from a dozen countries, “will no longer provide adoption services, home study services, and post-placement/post-adoption supervision services” as of September 30, 2023.

Why? According to Dillon: “The ever-declining number of intercountry adoptions combined with the increasing costs of maintaining Hague accreditation were primary factors considered in the decision.”

The closure does not surprise me. It’s been a bit of a trend for international adoption agencies in recent years.

What if an adoptee wants their own adoption file from Dillon?

“Adoption file contents will include all adoptee background information, legal documents, and referral pictures (if available) provided by the birth country to Dillon International. In most cases, all of these records should have been received by the adoptive family.”

Ok—but wait:

“There will be a $50 service fee to aid in the retrieval of the file, digitization of the content and emailing to the recipient.”

That is outrageous. It is disrespectful to adoptees to have to pay for their own information from an adoption agency. No agency should be able to withhold an adoptee’s own documents unless the adoptee pays up.

Yet another barrier for adoptees to acquire their own information.

Mila Konomos, aka @the_empress_han, is an adopted/displaced person from South Korea, and she created an adoptee-led petition asking Dillon to do the following:

  1. Remove the $50 fee required to access our adoption files.
  2. Schedule meetings between Dillon’s Board of Directors and adoptees to discuss a long-term plan for accountability.
  3. Guarantee that every person adopted through Dillon receives their complete adoption file and all relevant information without unnecessary delays or restrictions.

Those seem reasonable goals. It is unfortunate at best that these items must be requested. I have signed the petition, and I hope that others do as well.

Thank you for creating the petition, Mila.

Adoptees (or their parents, if the adoptees are minors) have until December 31, 2023, to request the files, which could then take some six months to receive.

Also, “Per Dillon policy, we are only able to provide digital copies rather than original documents.”

When an adoption agency closes, the records and files must be carefully preserved: they hold adoptees’ identities and incredibly important information, including original documents.

According to this news story from KTUL ABC 8, this is where “Lifeline Children’s Services comes into the picture. Lifeline is newly licensed in Oklahoma for both domestic and international adoption and was recruited by Dillon to help families with the transition.”

Lifeline appears to be based in Alabama, has many offices (including this new one in Oklahoma), provides adoption services in the U.S.and in 19 other countries, and is accredited under The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions.

I hope adoptees can find a way to access their own original documents, as well as the digitized version, via Lifeline or otherwise.

I did not see anything on Dillon’s page that talks about any services that will be provided to the international birth/first parents in follow-up with this closing. They do have a list of Support Groups and other services for adoptees and adoptive families, but nothing for first/birth parents.