Why Adoption Might be your Next Big Adventure

Gulf Coast Healthy Living Magazine Volume 3, Issue 4 - FamiliesFirst Network

Father playing video games with son

If you've ever considered adopting a child but thought you weren’t ready, you might reconsider after you hear the story of Randy Kafka, a retired U.S. Navy Force Master Chief and now a Florida Highway Patrol Auxiliary Sergeant.

Now in his 60s, his life as an adoptive father began when he was 25 and single, working in upstate New York. He met an 11-yearold boy in a Naval Sea Cadets program, who was struggling in a difficult home situation. The boy asked to live with Randy and the boy’s parents agreed. Thus began Randy’s life as an adoptive father. Over the next 35 years, Randy and his wife (now deceased) adopted four more boys ranging in age from birth to age 14, and he is looking to adopt another one in the near future. His sons now range in age from 17 to 48.

Randy is modest about his life as a parent. "Colleagues tell me, 'Randy, you're at the age when you should be thinking about tee times, not bedtimes.' But the way I feel is there's always room for one more child."

The boys Randy has adopted fall into a category that is often overlooked when parents consider expanding their families through adoption. According to Randy, the perceived drawbacks of adopting an older child often result in some of the greatest rewards.

"It's a common perception that older children have more problems, but I don’t see them as problems. These children may have certain needs that are different than a 5-year-old's, but a child of any age is capable of learning new things and ways of thinking. The rewards with older children come when you see them grow and excel in ways they never thought possible."

There currently are more than 50 children in foster care in Northwest Florida who are waiting for adoptive families. For the older children, adoption means that instead of aging out of the system to tackle adulthood alone, there will be a home to visit at Christmas, advice when things get rough, and the love and support that comes when you share the name of the ones you care about.

"I've heard just about all these children express the same wish – to have the same name as their family,” said Randy. "It may sound like a small thing to you or me, but it makes a profound difference in these children’s lives."

If you’ve been considering adopting a child, it’s time to contact FamiliesFirst Network (FFN).