RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Time now for StoryCorps, the project capturing the stories of everyday people. On this Father's Day weekend, we'll hear from a foster dad. In 2004, Horace Atwater Jr. took in Adrian Hawkins, who was a teenager at the time. Here, Horace remembers when they first met.
HORACE ATWATER JR.: You were this little, skinny kid, about 14. (Laughing) You didn't really have any clothes. You had mismatched socks.
ADRIAN HAWKINS: I remember times being hungry, seeing drugs and all kinds of stuff. I mean, some things had to happen for me to be in foster care, but I'm glad I'm with you.
ATWATER: Thank you. I'm glad you're with me, too.
HAWKINS: Why do care so much for a stranger?
ATWATER: I had a personal experience where I lost everything - a wife, two fine sons - because of drug addiction and anger. I didn't experience my own sons growing up. I would only see them on visitation periods. But when my wife remarried, she married a man that embraced my sons as though they were his own.
He has been an excellent father to them. And I am so grateful that he embraced them the way he did. I'm also grateful for the opportunity that I had to embrace you. So that's the least that I owe, the least I could do.
HAWKINS: I mean, you know, you had it good at one time, and I know you messed it up, but you're the most influential person in my life. Like, I'm just glad that I met you.
ATWATER: I am so glad that you came into my life, and you're doing so well. You know, it makes me look like I'm smart, but you're the one who's smart.
ATWATER: God, for you to become the man that you are - I am so proud of that.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
MONTAGNE: Horace Atwater Jr. with his foster son, Adrian Hawkins, at StoryCorps in Atlanta, Ga. Adrian is now a senior in college, studying biology. He still talks to Horace every day. Their interview will be archived at the Library of Congress. Get the podcast at npr.org.