Pictured from left to right in top row: son-in-law Ryan Costella, Lauren Costella, 24 with Paityn Dixon, 2; Shelly Taylor; McKenna Dixon, 3; Lori Dixon; Gabriel Dedes, 16; Caitlyn Dedes, 13; and Alec Dedes, 22.

Brownstown Couple Receives Creating Hope Award for Fostering Children

BY JASON A. MICHAEL

Lori Dixon and Shelly Taylor became a couple nearly a decade ago. Though Dixon had four biological children from a previous marriage, the couple soon decided they wanted to increase the size of their family.

"We just enjoy kids," Dixon said. "We talked about having more kids and we decided to foster."

Three years ago, the couple got their first opportunity to foster and three little sisters arrived at their front door. The couple was interested in adopting one of the girls but did not want to break up the sisters. Fate would do that for them when nine months later two of the sisters were placed with their biological father. Dixon and Taylor adopted the one left behind.

And so started their fostering and adoption journey. To date the couple has fostered 11 children and adopted three of them. All of this has been done through Wolverine Human Services, a social services agency for children in Michigan.

In recognition of their efforts, the agency recently presented the couple with the Creating Hope Award.

Noah, 1, was adopted after family photo above

"Wolverine was awesome," said Dixon. "I can't say enough about them. I wish we could take more kids."

But fostering hasn't always been easy.

"We've had a trying time," Dixon said. "Our children were all drug babies. At one time we had three kids in two different hospitals."

In many cases, Dixon and Taylor were able to introduce their foster children to a whole new world.

"Some of our foster kids had never been to a store, to the park," explained Dixon. "One of our kids didn't know how to eat meat. She had lived off of cereal and ramen noodles. It's very, very sad."

For their part, Dixon and Taylor choose to focus on the positive and the growth they have seen in their children.

"I think the main thing is they get the schooling and the help, and sometimes special services through the school," Dixon said. "One of our children didn't walk until she was 17 months old.

She had a lot of coordination and balance problems. But a lot of normal kids have issues, kids that aren't drug addicted. I think all three of our kids are going to be just as normal as the rest of my kids."

There are difficulties to having such a large family, and one that ranges in age from one to 24. Taylor has had to switch from day shift to midnights to cut down on daycare costs.

"It's been a big adjustment," Taylor said of the schedule shift. "I think it's scary for us. But it's a necessity for my family. We stay constantly busy but between the two of us we just manage it, juggle it and get it done. There are a lot of sacrifices on our part but everybody's worth it."

Dixon agreed.

"I knew my heart and my love was there," she said. "I just have a love for kids. They're with you 24/7. You just can't let them go. They're very special - every single one of them. We haven't let any leave our house that's come up for adoption. So I tell them don't bring any more.

"I tell my kids if it poops or pees don't bring it in the house," Dixon continued. "We have three dogs, two cats, a parrot and five kids living in the house."

It may be a crowded home but it's a happy one. And that's why the folks at Wolverine couldn't help but recognize Dixon and Taylor's efforts.

"These parents represent what every child needs and want - understanding, structure, tolerance and most importantly love," said Wolverine's CEO Judith Fischer Wollack. "They believe in our mission and live it, helping children to be victors."

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a care provider and Wolverine Human Services, please contact Gail Gotthelf at gg@wolverinehsorg or visit http://www.wolverinehs.org.
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