Men: A Simple Strategy to Better the World

gus bw
For better or worse, men are the ones who change the world.

Women, please don’t get me wrong. History reveals the fingerprints of strong women who have pressed their hands into humanity and improved the world over and again.  But men are different.

We have a power to do substantial good in our lives but more importantly we have the tendency to do lasting harm to everyone around us. Women and men may work hand in hand to improve a community or culture, but the atrocities that destroy are almost always from the hands of men.

At the core of each man who causes such grief, there is a little boy who wasn’t loved enough.  He passes on his inheritance … anger, abuse, apathy.  He will not do for others what he always wanted for himself.  He has no pattern to imitate.  Love in that society grows colder one person at a time.

These were our thoughts when my wife and I chose to adopt 3 older boys.  Love also grows stronger one person at a time, or 3 at a time.  When the boys came to live in our home, these young strangers had a trajectory toward the atrocities that only men can cause.  A lousy dad and dozen foster home placements will do that.

Stevens familybw
Stevens Family 2 bw

family mustache

But resilience is strong in kids, and we nurtured it in them.  We began to love each of them in the way they needed and they are beginning to bloom. We are cultivating them into young men who will pass through life using their strength to make the earth a better place and people will be better for having known them.  Instead of knowing them by their abuses and their own children reared in anger and apathy, we will all know them by their music, their creations, their dancing, their humor, and the love that compels them to care for those around them.

By loving one person at a time, we change our community and the world.

If you’d like to know more about foster care or adopting a child from foster care, please email us.  

If you’d like to contribute to the strengthening of young men in your community, please email us for ideas, materials or simple encouragement.


gus and papa


  1. Well said.
    I don’t know why, but I think I’ve always had starry eyes about couples who adopt from foreign places and bring home a kid from some exotic land. It was majestic for some reason, and grand. But for couples who have adopted locally and especially older kids out of foster care or an orphanage, I’ve always just felt sorry for them (the parents that is). Like all they could afford was a second hand, used kid. I know this is horrible, but I don’t think I’m the only one who unconsciously sees adoption that way.
    We tend to have a “new is better” way of thinking about kids just like we do our cars. Buy new so you know what you are getting, as if new cars never have issues.
    Forgive me if this offends.
    But thanks so much for enlightening me, and maybe some of the others who have thought the same way. It’s people like you who do the extraordinary through the simplest of things. You inspire.

  2. tobystevens says:

    Chris, no offense taken. Thanks for your input.
    All of this began with us completely by accident. We had no intention of becoming foster parents and adopting kids from the state’s custody, but after spending some time with foster kids we knew we wouldn’t be the same. We saw the trajectory they were headed in, and simply put, it was very similar to their parents and grandparents, etc. It was looking behind their circumstances that showed us the steps we needed to take in order to shift the direction of these kids lives. And though it’s not easy, we haven’t regretted it.
    Thanks again for being honest. I agree with you that you are probably not the only one who has seen adoption that way. But I hope our story and our perspective can help shape a new view of adoption and caring for young men in our culture.

  3. This was very moving, and well said. I especially like the pictures. You two are very much an inspiration.

  4. LeeAnn Reicks says:

    Toby, Ellen and boys,

    Often wonder about you all and absolutely thrilled you are all doing well. You have added so much light to these boys lives but also to people like myself who need stories like yours to keep doing what we do. Take care.