I’m a typical kid.  Just turned 15. I’m getting ready to enter 10th Grade, I’ve got my learner’s permit, and I like shooting hoops. Seven years ago, I was just a confused and scared little boy. Even though I had lost all that I had ever known, I still believed that my mom would somehow change. I always thought she’d come back for me. But she didn’t. She just dropped out of my life.

Hopping from one foster home to another, it didn’t take long for me to lose hope. Finally I was put in a long-term children’s home. It didn’t really phase me the day my social worker told me that someone wanted to adopt me. I didn’t really believe that I was wanted. He didn’t even know me – how could he want me? What if we went through the whole process of adoption and it turned out to be just another foster home? The day came, early in the spring, when the man was supposed to pick me up. But he didn’t come. The spark of hope I kept hidden inside of me disappeared. Even when my social worker told me he was just late – stuck in traffic – and he was still coming, I couldn’t let myself believe it. Why wouldn’t he let me down? Everyone else had.

I went to the gym to shoot some hoops. This day would be just like any other day. And then they told me he was here – my new dad. My stomach felt sick. I didn’t want to meet him. I was so afraid that he wouldn’t want me after he saw me. But I obediently walked in and there he was. He spoke to me and smiled. Some of my nervousness began to leave.

He was tall and had a beard. I went over to him and gave him a hug. He was a nice man after all. We spent the rest of that day together and I went home with him the next day. He was easy to talk to – he made my fears leave. I knew this was what I had wanted.

This man adopted me and now he is my dad. I’ve been with him for three years. It is like I have been with him forever. I have brothers and he adopted all of them. We have lots of fun even though Dad gets on us about homework and chores sometimes.

My dad has shown me how a real dad should be. He can be tough as nails, yet I’ve learned to trust and to love him because he is kind and funny. We do lots of neat stuff and Dad has taken us all over the American West. With all of us together, there is never a dull moment.

I’ve put Dad through some tough tests. He passed them all, but I had to see if he really wanted me. After one particularly rough time, I told Dad that I was sorry for making it so hard on him and tried to explain that I just had to know. He looked at me and finally smiled and said, “Son, if you are going to test me, why don’t you just write it down on paper and let me pass it that way? If you will, it will save me from stripping a gear and having gray hair.” My dad is the best.

Today I am 15 years old, have done well in school, play the trumpet, and am in honor band. And I have a real family. My family has grown to include six brothers. My dad has taught me how to dream and how to hope for the future. I now know this: Never give up hope!