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Father, son spend first ‘actual’ Christmas together

STEPHANIE CARROLL
Nevada Appeal News Service

Allen Dockwell and his dad have had Christmases together before. This year they plan to open presents at home and have family and friends over for a big dinner.

Nothing different, nothing special, except this Christmas the 17-year-old Dockwell is officially Dennis Moore’s son.

“I think this year will have more meaning now that he’s been adopted,” Moore said.

Moore, 42, is a civilian contractor who works on jet engines at the Fallon Naval Air Station. He “discovered” Fallon after being stationed here with the U.S. Navy in December 1984.

Moore isn’t married and doesn’t have any children. He decided to become a foster parent after watching a segment on the news about children in need. He’s had a total of four foster children, but most only stay around a month.

Dockwell was his first foster child. Moore explained child protective services took Dockwell after his mother couldn’t care for him any longer, but the Fallon teen may have perceived the experience differently.

“My mom didn’t want me,” he said.

He was only 13. He had two older sisters and an older brother, but they were all legal adults and living on their own. Dockwell stayed in two other foster homes for about a month each before coming to Moore. By the time he got there, the experience of moving into a stranger’s house wasn’t intimidating.

“I was used to it,” Dockwell said.

Whether or not Dockwell found a place to stay permanently wasn’t something he necessarily hoped for either.

“If I was, I was,” Dockwell said. “If I wasn’t, I wasn’t.”

The experience of bringing in a foster child wasn’t portrayed like it is in the movies. Dockwell didn’t spend evenings glaring across the dinner table and trying to run away. Moore described their initial relationship as one of respect, the kind that comes with welcoming someone into your home and being welcomed.

“With all the children, there’s a sense of trust and respect on both sides,” Moore said.

Still, Moore made an effort to start a friendship with Dockwell.

“He took a couple days off so we could bond,” Dockwell said.

During the next three years, they continued to grow closer. Moore shows his appreciation by giving Dockwell respect, choices and some freedom. Dockwell has his driver’s license and is allowed to go out on his own. He has friends over to their house quite often, and he gets to visit his biological relatives regularly. Moore gives him trust and love.

“He’s nice. He understands. He doesn’t need to yell,” Dockwell said. “He’s old school.”

In return, Dockwell shows Moore respect and care.

“I come home from work, and he’ll ask how my day was,” Moore said. “He can tell if I’m having a bad day and asks if there’s anything he can do for me.”

Dockwell also shows appreciation by doing those things teens rarely agree to do, like clean up the house.

“I clean it before he even tells me,” Dockwell said.

Three and a half years after their first meeting, Moore asked Dockwell what he would do if someone wanted to adopt him. Dockwell told Moore, he could adopt him.

“When he mentioned about adopting him, it was kind of hard to say no,” Moore said.

On Feb. 5 of this year, Dockwell was officially recognized as Moore’s son.

“He’s part of a family that loves and cares for him,” Moore said.

So what’s going to be special about this Christmas for this father and son?

“I’d say a Christmas wish come true,” Moore said.