Adoptive Dad Says Don't Be Afraid of Older Kids

Two years ago, Ron Hancock was like any other single man in Tampa, Fla. He could come and goes as he pleased, owned a home and enjoyed what he describes as a carefree life.

But something was missing. Ron had always wanted children, and when he turned 40, he decided it was time to look into adoption.

Ron's contact at the local children's home suggested he visit the Heart Gallery exhibit the following weekend. She knew of a boy, Steven, whom she thought Ron might like. Although admittedly hesitant at first -- Ron wasn't interested in adopting a teenager -- he agreed to go and has never regretted it since.

"He looked like a Hancock, and he had a great smile and a twinkle in his eye," said Ron, describing the first time he saw Steven's photograph. "I called Sharon on the way home and said, 'That's the kid. I want to meet him.'"

Two years later, Ron and Steven are a happy family. Despite struggles at first, Ron is proud to report that Steven, now 17, is a wonderful student who hopes to become an emergency room nurse.

"Steven had been in the system since he was 2, and when I got him he was on six different medications after being diagnosed with bipolar disease," said Ron. "In the two years I've had him he takes no medicine and is a straight-A student."

Ron and Steven are now looking to expand their family. They hope to welcome another foster kid, Alex, 4, into their home soon.

Ron offered some advice for prospective adoptive parents who, like him, are wary of adopting an older child.

"Give these older kids a chance," he said. "They need someone to pat them on the back, give them a kiss, and they also need someone to kick them in the butt and get them into gear. They all deserve a place to call home."