Wednesday, July 13, marked the first anniversary of Mixon Day – the day my husband’s adoption of my oldest daughter was finalized.
“My” daughter became “our” daughter, but that really wasn’t news. She was our daughter long before Judge Sharon Marchman made it official by signing the adoption papers. I posted the “Once Upon A Time…” blog on the anniversary, but I wanted to share a few more thoughts that didn’t fit into the fairytale format of the previous blog.
So much attention was given to Sarah on Mixon Day that I thought it would be worthwhile to turn the spotlight toward the person who actually made the commitment that day.
Without my husband Randall, there wouldn’t have been a Mixon Day.
Sarah had a rough start in her family life. Her biological father and I had our first bitter argument in front of her when she was barely 48 hours old and hadn’t yet been discharged from the hospital after she was born. I vowed at that moment never to talk like that in front of her again.
We tried to make our relationship work for a short period of time, but it became clear that the man with whom Sarah shares DNA was not ready to settle down. We went our separate ways and struggled through some problems (many of which unfortunately had to be refereed by the courts) for about a year and a half before we finally ceased contact.
Randall came into Sarah’s life when she was about eight months old. I had never introduced her to any other man and had previously had no interest in dating. I was happy with just me and my little princess and the life we had created for ourselves.
Having grown up in the same town and the same church, Randall and I had known each other for many years. In fact, he and his brother were friends with my brother in school. Randall and his dad sang at my first wedding, and his mom helped me pick out my patterns and arranged the flowers and bouquets.
Weird, I know. What can I say? Crossett is a small town. Paths cross.
So when we first began talking in 2007, I wasn’t quite sure how to feel. My mom thought it was a bad idea at first.
“Rebecca! That would be like dating your brother,” she said when I told her we had been emailing and texting.
I sort of felt the same way, but I kept talking to him. There was something so quietly wonderful and sweet about him. Even though we were only texting and occasionally talking on the phone at that point, I felt a certain teenage-girl giddiness I hadn’t felt in quite some time when I saw his name on my phone, and I wondered where this flirtation would lead.
Sarah did not share my caution. She took to him immediately.
Up to that point, my dad had really been the only consistent male influence in her life. One day when we were at my grandparents’ house, Sarah was playing in the middle of the floor between the two recliners. Dad was in one recliner. Randall was in the other.
“Daddy,” Sarah said, without looking up.
We all froze. To whom was she referring? She knew my dad was Papa, but when she couldn’t get his attention, she had been known to say, “Papa. Papa. Papa. DAD!” in the same tone of voice I used when trying to get his attention. Could it be that she was referring to Randall instead?
I had to ask.
“Sarah, which one is Daddy?”
She lifted her head from where she was playing and pointed at Randall. She looked back at me with a look that said, “Duh.” At that moment, my little princess had chosen her king. I already knew I loved him and wanted a future with him, but at that moment, I began to clearly see the future for all three of us.
A year after we began talking, that “flirtation” led us down the aisle at South Main Baptist Church in Crossett. Sarah was right there by our side to light the unity candle and ride her “Dadall’s” shoulders as we walked up the aisle together as husband, wife and daughter.
We were an instant family, but at that moment, the only thing that changed was the fact that we would now be living under the same roof. As far as Sarah was concerned, her Mama and Daddy were already set. We just needed to all have the same address to complete the picture.
Even though we were now functioning as a family, I didn’t ask Randall to adopt Sarah.
He brought it up even before we were married and asked what it would take to make her an official Mixon. She was already part of the family long before that, but without that sheet of paper, she would still have the name with which she was born and would always wonder why Mommy and Daddy didn’t share her last name. When we found out four months after we got married that a second child would soon join our family, it seemed more important than ever to begin working on finalizing the adoption.
July 13, 2010, Judge Marchman signed the adoption papers declaring Randall to be Sarah’s father and changing her name to Mixon. Aubrey, the baby that had been on the way when we first started the process, was nearly a year old, and the judge’s signature on that paper was the culmination of a tremendous amount of patience, effort and determination to see the adoption through to the end.
We had bumps along the way as roadblocks presented themselves during the adoption process. We had to borrow the money to pay the attorney’s fees and court costs. We had to take time off from work to sign papers and go to appointments, and I won’t even go into how much paperwork and documentation had to be submitted.
But it was all worth it when Sarah’s birth certificate arrived in the mail showing her name as Sarah Mixon and her birth father as Randall Mixon. Her DNA may not match his, but her name and her heart do, and, to us, that is all that matters.
We have been very upfront with her about what it means that we celebrate Mixon Day. We will never hide her original name and the other part of who she is from her. She will grow up knowing the name with which she was born and understanding what that means for her family tree.
Hopefully, without our ever having to explain it to her, though, she will also know that even though her DNA shows another man as her father, Randall is and always will be the only Daddy she has ever had.
I love you, Randall. I am so thankful you are, as Sarah puts it, her “always and ever Daddy.” You are always willing to be silly, to offer protection from Life’s storms, to listen to a million “what I did at school today” stories or to go to doctor’s appointments, school programs and kids’ movies, and you are far better than most dads at knowing and understanding your kids. I am so thankful you came into our world, that I can call you my partner in life and love and that both our girls call you Daddy.
We give all the attention to Sarah on July 13, but it wouldn’t be Mixon Day without the Mixon who started it all. Thank you for being you and for loving us.
We love you, too.