Opportunities to adopt children used to be limited to people past the age of 50. But now this trend is changing, and one 60-year-old man has proven it—opening his heart, and his home, to six teenage kids. Not done yet, he has decided to welcome number seven into his humble abode.
For the past decade, Joe Toles, a former guidance counsellor from Queens, New York has adopted and raised teenage boys, who have had rough childhoods.
— New York Post (@nypost) March 6, 2019
For Toles, he knows exactly what it’s like to be in the foster care system as he was thrust into the system soon after being born to a 15-year-old mom. Not having a secure home growing up left an imprint on Toles, and he was able to understand the problems young teenagers could encounter in similar situations.
You may remember we started off the month on June 1st with the adoption of Haiden by Paul and Luna. We are wrapping up…
Toles showed promise at track and field as a teenager, and was disappointed when his foster parents showed no interest in supporting him at competitive meets. Luck was on his side though—the coach took an interest in him and became his mentor—and allowed him to reach his full potential scholastically and in sport. As a result, Toles received a full sporting scholarship to Auburn University, Alabama.
“The coach said, ‘I treat you the way you deserve to be treated,’ and that’s the way I raise my sons,’” Toles told New York Post.
Tole’s first son was Xavier, whom he adopted in 2009. “I was 18 when I was adopted by my dad, Joe,” Xavier told You Gotta Believe, a U.S.-based foster care organization.
Xavier didn’t have much hope of ever having a stable life—born into a life of drugs and crime. “I thought I would die by twelve,” he said. “And now it’s a whole different story.” Xavier now has 3-year-old twin boys of his own, and he looks to dad Joe for advice.
“If I’m ever having difficulty with my kids, I’ll reach out to him and ask, ‘What would you do?’” he said.
Toles formally adopted Johnathan, now 24, in 2010. Next was Ronny, 21, in 2012, and then Creemel, 25, in 2014. They were followed by Kamren, 14, in 2017, and Cinsere, 13, in 2018.
Jhon, 20, a special-needs young man from the Dominican Republic, is about to become son number 7 for Toles. Two of his sons, apart from Jhon, are also special needs. Life has not been without its challenges as the boys struggled with puberty.
“It takes work, but I make the effort in nurturing the relationships,” Toles said. “Until I took the plunge, I would never have understood the real difference it’s made to all our lives. Love happens and it changes everything.”
The non-profit organization You Gotta Believe has been behind Toles all the way, matching him up with his sons.
“Adopting an older child gives hope to somebody who probably doesn’t have much hope at that moment,” he said. “No matter how old they are, they need a home base and to be part of something.”
Toles established The Joseph Toles Foundation in 2005; the foundation aims “to provide leadership and social skills development workshops, retreats and camping experiences to children from all walks of life,” according to its mission statement.
Toles is a man on a mission—and it’s all about feeling empathy and giving security to kids in need. Toles has plenty to give.
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