Buffalo, New York — When Lamont Thomas became an empty-nester, it was the end of a parenting legend. As CBS Newsa couple years ago, the divorced father of two took on hero status when he took on a foster kid named Michael Perez in 2001.
"He was a good young man and I just hated to see him in the system," Thomas said.
Thomas eventually adopted Perez, who now works as a nurse.
"I don't believe that I would be the person that I am today without the morals that he instilled in me and the extended family that I have now," Perez said.
Perez was just the beginning. Over the next 15 years, Thomas fostered more than 30 kids. He did so all as a single parent and with all of his heart.
"Every child that I have had, it was my goal to make a difference in their lives," he said.
When he retired from fostering to spend time fishing and traveling, that didn't last for long.
"It really was a shocker," Perez said. "I didn't expect for him to restart and to do it all over again."
Thomas, a retired caterer, began fostering again when he found out that five siblings all under the age of 6 were going to be permanently split up. To guarantee they stayed a family, he adopted all of them too.
"I had to help them. They deserved to be raised together," Thomas said.
After Thomas' story first aired, CBS News received a lot of surprising mail from women who expressed interest in the overwhelmed bachelor. Some notes were subtle, others were more bold. "Ask Mr. Thomas if he would like a pen pal," wrote one woman, while another said, "I'll marry Lamont!"
But the kids see no room for romance, nor does Thomas.
"I was about to change my number," he said.
So he remains single. He spent Thanksgiving with family and is more grateful than ever.
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