Joe Toles, a 60-year old single father from New York City, has spent the past 10 years raising six sons he has adopted. Without any regrets about it, he is now about to make their family bigger with his seventh adopted son, a 20-year old named Jhon who is from the Dominican Republic and has learning difficulties.
“There’s never going to be the perfect time to start or expand your family,” Toles, a former guidance counselor, told the said. “But this feels like the right thing to do.”
Growing up in foster care ever since he was born, Toles himself experienced the struggle of not having a home of his own during his childhood. It’s what inspired him to adopt those most in need — teenagers and young adults — instead of babies that are what most people would likely adopt.
“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.”
Although in most cases, foster kids who weren’t adopted become homeless, poor, or drop out of school, Toles said he was guided to the proper path by his high school track coach. Aside from having finished high school, he was also able to enter Alabama’s Auburn University on a full athletic scholarship.
“The coach said, ‘I treat you the way you deserve to be treated,’ and that’s the way I raise my sons,” Toles said.
Toles had his first adoption in 2009 with the help of the nonprofit You Gotta Believe, which finds permanent homes for hard-to-place teens and young adults. His first adopted son, Xavier, was then 17 years old. In 2010, he took in Johnathan, now 24 years old, followed by Ronny, 21, in 2012 and Creemel, 25, in 2014. They were followed by Kamren, 14, in 2017 and Cinsere, 13, in 2018. Toles is now about to also become a legal father to Jhon.
Toles admitted that he went through a number of challenging issues regarding puberty and behavior, especially that two of his sons aside from Jhon have special needs. But he was able to surpass it as a great father.
“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.”
Moreover, Toles goes beyond providing security and stability to his adopted sons. He also established a foundation in 2005 called The Joseph Toles Foundation. Through that, he helps foster kids get sponsorship to summer camps and other activities.