Arizona Mother of the Year Was Meant for Motherhood
Contributed By Abby Jennings Church News staff writer.
- Sister Bette Doxey grew up with an innate love for kids and applied that love to her studies in early childhood and family relationships and teaching in elementary school.
- She and her husband were not able to have children, but she could not entirely resign herself to not being a mother.
- She received a call about a family of five children, ages three to eight, who needed a home, and she and her husband adopted them.
“Children are the most wonderful thing in the world to have.” —Bette Doxey, Arizona Mother of the Year
Growing up in Arizona, Bette Doxey always had a love of children and a desire to be a mother. Her parents, Robert and Lora Magnusson, instilled this love of children in her at an early age. “My mom loved having children, and she taught me how fun children are,” she said.
She attended Brigham Young University, where she pursued a degree in early childhood and family relationships, also taking classes in special education. This is where she met Ronald Doxey. “My husband loves kids; that was one of the main reasons I married him,” she said.
After marrying, they moved to Nebraska, where he attended dental school. There Sister Doxey taught first grade at a Catholic school. “The Holy Ghost made all the difference,” she said. “I went into my classroom every morning feeling strong and ready to lead them to the next step.”
During this time, the couple discovered that they were unable to have children. “We were heartbroken,” she said.
After Brother Doxey finished dental school, the couple moved to Hawaii, where he was diagnosed with kidney disease. They found comfort in a priesthood blessing from a close family friend.
After some time, they established themselves in Phoenix, Arizona, where Sister Doxey opened an academic preschool where she taught for almost 10 years.
Sister Doxey did not have children of her own, but she found joy in her preschool and in teaching seminary. “They all kind of became my own kids,” she said of her students.
Throughout these busy years in Arizona, Brother and Sister Doxey had not given up on having children. They looked into adoption, but the long waiting lists seemed hopeless.
“I started to plan my life as a childless mother, but I never really could do it. I just couldn’t put my heart into it. … I wanted to be a mother,” she said.
Their prayers were answered when Sister Doxey received a phone call from a cousin in Las Vegas. “I have a family for you, a family of five children,” he said. The five children, whose ages ranged from three to eight, had lost their parents and been put into the state’s care.
She traveled to Las Vegas to meet the welfare workers and children. “I just prayed that I could become a mom to them,” she said.
A week later, Brother and Sister Doxey welcomed the children into their family. “There is no doubt in my mind that these children were meant to come to our home,” Sister Doxey said. She taught two more years at her preschool—with five new students—then stopped to become a full-time mother.
“Like every family, we’ve had challenges we’ve had to face,” Sister Doxey said. During hard times, she was grateful for her experience as a teacher. It prepared her to educate her own children. “I gave seminary lessons to my kids before they went to school.”
Wanting to do something special for her seminary students in Hawaii, Sister Doxey wrote a 10-act musical pageant based on the Book of Mormon. The pageant has been performed in Chicago, Mexico City, several times in Phoenix, and was even translated into Portuguese to be performed in Curitiba, Brazil.
Miraculously, Sister Doxey’s husband received a kidney from their son-in-law. Brother Doxey has had the kidney for 11 years.
As the 2015 Arizona State Mother of the Year for American Mothers Inc., Sister Doxey is grateful to be a parent. “Children are the most wonderful thing in the world to have,” she said.