Thursday, August 21, 2008

What's with that really looong blog name, you ask? goes way back.

I used to read a lot of parenting magazines when the boys were little. I thought they'd hold all the secrets to being a perfect mom and raising perfect kids. I finally gave up and canceled every subscription when I realized that they were actually just giving me a whole bunch of stuff to worry about. I decided I didn't need to borrow trouble.

I did get at least ONE great idea from reading an article about reducing sibling rivalry. The expert doing the writing suggested that families come up with a cheer or chant or pledge that the kids could do together....something easy to remember and something that they would do only with each other.

The expert postulated that in good times and bad, having your kids pledge their devotion to each other would go a long way to foster positive feelings. The idea was to get them to see that getting along with siblings wasn't easy, but no matter what, they were together as family for the long haul.

Now...if you were hanging out in our cul de sac yesterday, you'd realize that I am any thing but a perfect mom. During some crazy football/driveway game the boys had made up (but loosely modeled after "keep-away") the name-calling was unbelievable! And hurtful. And not at all Christ-like. You'd have wondered if those three yahoos even had a mother.

Brant thought Jay was being a baby; Jay thought Brant was manipulating the rules mid-way. Will thought they both needed to go to their rooms.

And they DID....but not until they apologized to each other, put their hands in a pile together and did the Dixon Brothers' Cheer. They didn't necessary like doing it and they certainly didn't sing it or rap it this time, but they did say it. And yep, you know where this is going.....the words of the cheer are...

For always.
No matter what.

Simple words that do the trick.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Top 10 Most-Frequently-Asked Questions about our pending adoption---

Us Dixons love to talk about the new boys, how we came to choose Liberia and about the nuts and bolts of the adoption process—no matter how slow it’s going! It’s amazing how many of the same questions come up over and over, and while we’re never tired of talking about it all and are so grateful for your interest, I thought it might be helpful to put some things down for the record...

1. How did you pick Liberia? Or is it Siberia? I have felt the pull to adopt for a long time. Drew was a little less enthusiastic at first, but even before we had our bio sons, we’d had several conversations about the possibility. For years after the boys were born, it was clear Drew and I had absolutely all the kids we could possibly handle! But as time has gone on and our boys have become more and more independent, Drew and I began feeling that God was calling us to do more to serve Him. We investigated adopting through the North Carolina foster care system in the fall of 2007, but as we learned more, we felt it probably wasn’t the right thing for us. Around this same time, our friends, Bob and Elizabeth in Charlotte, sent pictures of the boys they were adopting from Monrovia, Liberia. We did the research and never really considered adopting from any where else from that point on. The needs of the Liberian people, and particularly the tens of thousands of orphans, are so very desperate, we couldn’t ignore God’s lead to adopt any longer.

2. Where IS Liberia? Liberia is located on the west coast of Africa bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, Sierra Leone, Guinea and the Ivory Coast. Liberia was settled in the early 1800’s by free blacks from America, so their government and constitution are based on ours here in the US. It is slightly larger than the state of Tennessee...and was nearly decimated by a 15-year long civil ending finally in 2003.

3. You didn’t want a girl? Nope.

4. What are the boys’ names? Are you going to change them?? We don’t know yet. The oldest boy, Amos, is named after his biological father and he may feel strongly about hanging on to that important piece of his heritage. The younger boy is Kalee (pronounced kah-lee), perhaps a little too close to Kelly, but I’m not sure if it will create any confusion. IF they would like to choose a new “American” name, then Brant, Will and Jay have generated a long list from which to choose! (Sorry NBA fans, Drew and I have nixed LeBron & Kobe....and likewise, Isiah Thomas Dixon and Chris Paul Dixon.)

5. Are Amos and Kalee brothers? Yes, but they haven’t always lived together. Their mother died several years ago and their father is not able to support them. Amos lived with a neighbor for some time and Kalee lived with an aunt until they were both relinquished to the orphanage last fall. Drew and I hope to meet their father when we travel to pick up the boys.

6. How old are they? Our adoption agency believes that Amos is at least 6 and Kalee is about 4 years old. These ages are only a guess as most births in Liberia are not documented nor are birth certificates issued. We suspect that the boys are probably a little older...Amos might be as old as 8 or 9.

7. Do the boys speak English? Yes, or at least a version of it! English is the official language of Liberia so they already speak it and are learning to read and write a bit while they attend a half-day school program at their orphanage. There will be a language barrier, though, as we all get used to each other’s accents and differences in dialects. The new boys will probably understand us a lot better than we understand them at first!

8. Are Amos and Kalee going to attend school this year? Probably not immediately after their arrival, but it will all just depend on how the transition goes. Our agency director and some other adoptive parents have indicated that most Liberian kids that come to the states do well in school situations. Because our guys have lived in an orphanage, they are used to being around many other kids and will probably need the social contact with others. Our bio boys attend a wonderful Christian school here in Winston-Salem and the admissions office is holding spots for Amos and Kalee so that they will be available once the boys are here and settled.

9. When are they coming?? Oh, if only I knew...! What we thought was going to be a six-month wait is stretching on and on as the Liberian government re-evaluates its adoption policies and procedures. We’d love to have the new boys home by the end of 2008, but it’s hard to anticipate any sort of time frame at this point. I’ll keep you posted.

10. What are you and Drew going to do with FIVE boys?? Ummm....I’m not sure I’ve got a real solid answer to that question yet. Love on ‘em? Take things one day at a time? Do the best we can? Invest in a cow?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Meant to be...

When we started talking seriously about adoption last fall, Drew and I browsed hundreds of pictures of waiting children in all parts of the world. We knew we wanted to adopt an older child and we learned quickly that the situation in Liberia was desperate for hundreds of thousands of orphans there. When we came across Amos and Kalee on the Addy's Hope Adoption Agency webpage, we kept going back for another look, then another. Eventually, we felt as though God had put these boys in front of us and that they were meant to be our sons. In December, we signed all the paperwork and committed to the boys. We hurriedly started work on our dossier, met with the social worker to complete our home study, sent off the INS documents and waited for a finger print appointment.

Our Christmas was completely different last year than in all others. I didn't bake a single cookie...I hardly wrapped gifts and didn't deliver sugar cakes to the neighbors for their Christmas breakfasts. Who had time for festivities?? We were doing every thing possible to get our dossier to Liberia to beat governmental changes that were rumored to go into effect after the first of the year.

One afternoon, right after Christmas and after we'd mailed off the last of the many adoption documents, Brant came downstairs from where he'd been reading. He'd already volunteered to give up his bedroom for the new boys, but I wasn't at all prepared for what he was about to tell me and Drew. While doing some research on Liberia, Brant discovered that the small quilt hanging on his bedroom door---one that I'd bought for his room while we were living in Dallas in the 90's---was not, in fact, a folksy version of the Texas or early American flags. It was actually the flag of Liberia...and it had been flying proudly from Brant's door for the last ten years. What are the chances of that?? How could that possibly be?

I'm not a big fan of that saying, "It's a God thing," not because I don't believe it, just because I don't like the saying. No matter, NO ONE can tell me that this wasn't a God thing. Only, only God could have planned and orchestrated the events that led us to Amos and Kalee. God knew before I could even find Liberia on the globe that we would someday commit to bringing these two Liberian boys into our family.

So, no matter how down I get about the adoption delays or how discouraged I am by the lack of progress in the Liberian court system, I am always comforted by looking at the quilt hanging on what is now Amos's and Kalee's bedroom door. That Liberian flag reminds me that God knows what's meant to be...and that He has always and will continue always to orchestrate the details of my life...and the lives of all my boys...big and small...on both sides of the Atlantic.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Just get me started....

Typically, my husband, Drew, and I fight on only one day of the year. That's the day in early December when we write our annual Christmas card letter...together. It started as a quaint holiday tradition between newlyweds sipping hot chocolate in their pjs. Now?'s....not.

I take full blame. I admit the problems arose when I began insisting each year that the letter open in just the right way.

"Just get me started, Drew" I say every December, "and I'll take it from there."

I guess I worry most about the tone. Our only communication all year with about a hundred people has to know...upbeat, but not annoying, newsy...but not boring. Plenty witty. Plenty funny. Year after year, I think the letter should convey just the right
...every thing.

It's important to note here, that psychoanalysis would probably indicate I have control issues and am some sort of a perfectionist. Our master shower would absolutely indicate otherwise. But at any rate, I
do want the Christmas letter at least to be perfect, even if our lives are not. Drew just wants the letter DONE.

We're different like that. Or "complimentary" as we like to tell ourselves. can imagine when I told Drew that I was going to start writing a blog to keep folks updated on our family happenings and the progress of our Liberian adoption, he was nervously less-than-enthused. Actually, I think he said something like, "You? You're kidding me, right?" in a very cranky tone of voice.

Undaunted, nevertheless, I sit here posting my first entry...I jumped right in with no hopes of perfectionism... am even writing it all by Drew necessary, today anyway. A year ago, I didn't know what a blog was....never mind that with that ignorance came a lot more sleep..I've come a long way!

Likewise, one year ago...I thought my family was complete. Life was good...had the shirt and every thing. I was happy and content. Little did I know that, an ocean away, there were two more boys whom God had deemed my sons.

Getting started....hmmmmm....could be a new theme for me, ya think? Maybe I can get the hang of it, yet.