To quote Mickey Mouse, “Oh boy!” We have got one super special Guest with us today. Please welcome my friend Kim Dillen! Kim is a Registered Nurse, wife, and mother to two amazing children. She is also a member of the 2012 Walt Disney World Moms Panel. Kim’s joining us today to share two of her life passions, Disney travel and adoption. You can learn “More about Kim” below the article.
When I was approached by Jodi to come up with a blog post regarding my love of Disney, I immediately suggested combining two of my biggest passions in life into one write-up: adoption and Disney travel.
It’s certainly not a secret to my family and friends that I firmly believe in the power of Disney Parks to transform lives! In the past, while volunteering at Give Kids the World Village in Orlando, I’ve been privileged to see firsthand the impact of sprinkling pixie dust into the lives of children facing potentially life-threatening illnesses and the families who love them. I have also happily enjoyed many years of Disney vacations with my close friends and extended family members, some with mobility and dietary needs. However, it was on our first visit to Walt Disney World Resort with my then nearly 5-year-old foster-to-adopt daughter that I knew without a doubt that “Disney Magic” is, in fact, quite real!
My sweet girl had been home all of 6 weeks and was adjusting to too many primary caregiver changes in her young life. As a result, she was refusing to get close to my husband and me by fighting our attempts to claim her as part of the Dillen Family. Older child adoption can be like that sometimes. Parents can pour all the love in the world into the child, but they have to be willing to accept it and believe that you will never abandon them before they can return your affection. As a result, all that is left is the hollow shell of a kiddo who is unwilling to participate in typical childhood play due to anxiety, who denies the world of make believe in favor of more hyper vigilant behaviors, and who works constantly at controlling their surroundings in order to feel safe in the world.
So, when we arrived at the Walt Disney World in April 2007 during the Year of a Million Dreams, I had greatly limited my expectations for a positive experience. Part of me even questioned the wisdom in bringing a young child, who still didn’t have our legal last name, to a 47-square-mile resort! However, so much hope and happiness occurred during our trip that I know those enchanted surroundings helped crumble the bricks that had walled off my daughter’s heart, thus allowing her to begin trusting me. This incredible world of fantasy taught her that it was okay to let her guard down enough to experience life through the eyes of a child. It was shortly thereafter that she requested to call me “Mommy” instead of “Miss Kim,” and together we began the long and tedious process of helping her learn to accept me as her mother and to see herself as worthy of my love. Fast forward to present day, and my now 10-year-old daughter is absolutely flourishing. She loves Walt Disney World almost as much as I do and was beyond thrilled when I was selected to join the Disney Parks Moms Panel in 2012. Having visited more than 10 times since coming home 6 years ago, to include a recent first visit to Disneyland in California, my amazing child happily enjoys character interactions, pressed pennies, hunting for the elusive hidden Mickey, and wearing Mickey Mouse Ears while holding hands with her MOM and skipping down Main Street, U.S.A.
As a board member for one of the largest adoptive parent support groups in the southeast, and while answering questions for the Disney Parks Moms Panel, I’ve been able to help other adoptive families plan their own heart-opening Disney vacations. In June of last year, I was honored to be able to join one of my closest friends in taking her own foster-to-adopt 12-year-old daughter to Disney for the first time! THE place to celebrate an adoption finalization, reaching a milestone in treatment, or just bonding as a new family is at Disney Parks! Recently, I also became a board member for Magical Families: An Adoptive Family Weekend in Walt Disney World. This special event is a beautiful way to celebrate adoptive and foster families while vacationing at Walt Disney World! Now entering its 3rd year, details about the Magical Families Weekend can be found at: http://magical-families.weebly.com/and is open to ALL pre- and post-adoptive and foster families, regardless of agency affiliation. If your life has been touched by adoption or foster care, please consider joining us! I’m so looking forward to meeting other Magical Families in Walt Disney World this November!
Thank you so much for being our Guest today, Kim! I look forward to seeing pictures and hearing your reports about the Magical Families Weekend this fall, and I hope someday to meet you in person and give you a real-life hug!
Magical Mouse Schoolhouse fans, you may read more about Kim below. For Today’s Takeaway, I encourage you to support the Magical Families organization or Give Kids the World. Click the links to discover ways you can help!
MORE ABOUT KIM:
Hi! Kim Dillen here! I’m a Registered Nurse, wife, and mother to two amazing children, a biological son Andrew age 21 and a daughter Nia age 10 who joined our family through adoption just prior to her 5th birthday.
I’ve been in love with all things Disney for many years now and always seem to find a reason (excuse) to return to the Most Magical Place on Earth to celebrate a special Dillen Family milestone or life event. In 2012, I was honored to be selected as a member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel. The Panel’s collective passion for the House of Mouse is so overflowing that one of our greatest joys is found in helping others create their own amazing Disney vacation memories. Since I am on hiatus from answering questions this year, I recently joined the board of directors for Magical Families, and I’m helping with planning the 2013 adoptive family weekend gathering in Walt Disney World! I also enjoy fostering animals in my home for the Humane Society of Charlotte, and I serve on the board of directors for my local adoptive parent support group: Southern Piedmont Adoptive Families of America.
You can read all about my adventures with the Moms Panel at this link to a write-up on the Disney Parks Blog: http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2012/03/moms-panel-monday-meet-new-2012-walt-disney-world-panelist-kim-dillen/
And you can watch my online video biography that I recorded during Moms Panel Training in December 2011 here: http://disneyworldforum.disney.go.com/videos.aspx?pnl=242
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