Anthony Hall had never considered becoming a foster parent, but that all changed in 1998 when he met a teenager in foster care. One day, the young man said to Hall, “If you really cared about me, you’d adopt me.” That challenge changed Hall’s life. Eight years later, he has fostered more than 35 teen boys.
“Being a foster parent is the most rewarding experience in my life,” Hall says. “The children have given my life meaning. They’ve also helped me become a more patient and well-rounded person. Seeing these boys change their lives and grow has given me far more than I have ever given them.”
With nurturing and stability, most of the boys Hall has fostered have turned their lives around. When Derek* first moved into Hall’s home, he had never thought about college. In fact, he wasn’t even attending high school due to a medical condition. After Hall provided the support he needed, Derek returned to high school, improved his grades, and entered college.
“Initially, I was hesitant about becoming a foster parent,” Hall admits. “I knew it would require me to put the children’s needs first. The thought of becoming an instant parent and having to take the boys to doctors appointments, meet with teachers, check homework, and help with school projects was overwhelming at first. But that first boy’s request motivated me to attend the classes I needed to become a foster parent. I met people who gave me support along the way.”
Hall understood that kids enter foster care for different reasons. Whatever the reason, they all deserve to be in a stable and safe environment. “It’s very important for these kids to have consistency and stability,” Hall says. “By supporting and encouraging them and being consistent, I earn their trust and respect. They trust me enough to open up and talk about the circumstances they came from. I encourage them about their situations and to stay in touch with their biological families. Accepting them as individuals and not judging them or the situations they come from helps the boys to trust me. That, in turn, helps them respect me and the boundaries I set for them.”
Hall focuses the boys on short-term goals and teaches them to be accountable for their actions. He teaches them that where they come from does not determine where they can go or what they can achieve in their lives.
“Raising males can be difficult,” Hall observes. “But I work to show them I want the best for them and will help them.”
“Most of the young men I’ve fostered have finished high school, and some have gone on to college,” he continues. “Whether they decide to go to college or begin working, all have my love and support. Every day is a new day, and each day is an opportunity for the boys to improve their lives. I’m here for them every step of the way.”
*Names changed to protect confidentiality
*Photography by Ezra Gregg www.ezragregg.com