Archive for Thursday, June 12, 2003

Father’s Day returns to Doziers

June 12, 2003

Tom Dozier could have employed a simple formula for a calm and peaceful Father's Day by having a quiet, empty house. But this year, his house will be more active than ever.

Dozier retired from an administrative job for the Shawnee Mission school district. His post-retirement job of teaching Spanish had wound down. His wife, Marcia, had two children from a previous marriage, but the oldest, Jonathan, was married and out of the house, and the other child, Shanna, kept a typical 20-year-old's schedule of constant activity.

The couple married July 3, 1993, and eventually the desire for the challenges of parenthood got under their skin.

"We looked at the possibility of adopting a child," Tom said. "Because of (Jonathan and Shanna) I wanted to continue with raising children. We still had feelings about having kids, and we weren't ready to give up on that yet."

The couple decided to fill their house with love -- and four children from South America.

"After 9-11, that's when we started thinking about what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives," Marcia said. "We both decided our lives were happiest when our house was full of kids."

With Tom's professional background in Spanish, they looked to adopt from a Spanish-speaking country. When the couple came across the four children in the newsletter of the international adoption agency Children's Hope International, Marcia said, they knew they had found what they were looking for. In January, Tom and Marcia made a flight to Bogota, Colombia, to bring home four young -sters -- three brothers and a sister.

"The kids had desperately expressed they wanted to stay together," she said.

Tom said he believed potential adoptive parents unwilling to separate the children -- yet unable to take on the responsibility of adopting four children -- probably passed on the siblings. But, he said, he was ready for the challenge, so the couple started untangling the red tape of the adoption process, but not before some initial misgivings.

Jonathan recalled his feelings when he learned of the adoption plans.

"I thought they were crazy for doing this," he said. "As the process went along, everybody got more excited, especially after we met the kids. We all got a lot more excited."

After the papers were signed, the fees paid and the children in the Dozier home, the family worked through a slight adjustment of living with four curious new children.

"We felt that space wouldn't be a problem," Tom said.

Next was the language -- the youngest, Yensi, 5, spoke English pretty well. Andy Pete, 7; Michael, 10; and Cristian, 12; each had the basics of the language but needed to build from there. Tom said that was where the De Soto school district came in.

"De Soto has a good ESL (English as a Second Language) program," he said. "We've been pleased with that."

Around the home, Tom said he was often challenged to help encourage his children to learn his native tongue.

"I like working on my Spanish, but I still have to remember to speak more English to them," he said.

The family works through any language barriers with affection. After spending Tuesday afternoon swimming, the four children stormed into the house, assaulting Tom and Marcia with hugs and kisses.

"They pretty much have accepted a lot of different changes," Tom said.

He spoke to Cristian in Spanish, asking him what he liked best about America.

Cristian replied, and Tom gave the translation.

"Good parents," he said.

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