The day when Tony Mutabazi was adopted out of the foster care system was a day filled with happiness and joy.
Sadly, when he was 11, Tony was abandoned by that family. He was hopeless and I despair, and just then, he was rescued by single dad Peter Mutabazi.
At the early age of two, Tony entered the foster care system. There was no information on his birth parents, and he lived in foster homes for the next four years.
When he was four years old, a couple from Oklahoma adopted him. Sadly, after seven years, they decided that either they weren’t able to care for him or perhaps that they simply no longer wanted to. They left Tony at a hospital, told him they would not return, and drove away without telling why.
Tony’s foster care worker Jessica Ward called Peter Mutabazi on January 16, 2018. Peter had been a foster parent for three years.
She called him to ask if he could just take Tony for the weekend. But, after hearing Tony’s story, Peter knew he couldn’t just leave him in the system again. He is aware that it is very difficult for older children to be adopted.
“Once I knew the parents’ rights were signed off and he had nowhere to go, I [knew] I had to take him.”
He fostered Tony for two years until the adoption papers were signed at last. Tony had a family at last, at the age of 13.
Tony’s story touched Peter deep inside because when he was growing up, he had an experience like that. When he was just a 10-year-old boy, Peter ran away from his abusive parents in Uganda and was entirely alone. Fortunately, he, too, found someone to be a parental figure for him and help get him through school.
“They became my sponsor, my family. I grew up with the poorest of the poorest people on the planet,” Peter explained. “I grew up where no one told me to dream, that there was no future for me.”
When he became an adult, Peter immigrated to the United States and he is now a US citizen. In the last three years, Peter has fostered 12 children and works for World Vision United States, providing help to kids who live in disadvantaged and difficult places.
If love at first sight exists, then this was exactly that. Peter explained that when he met Tony for the first time, he knew right away that he wanted to become his legal father.
“He’s the nicest, smartest kid I’ve ever had,” Peter told “Good Morning America.” “From day one, he’s always called me ‘dad.’ He truly meant it and he looks up to me.”
Peter had all of the resources, financial capabilities, and space in his home to adopt Tony, so there was no hesitation at all. Now the two of them live in North Carolina and Peter is helping Tony overcome his childhood trauma. Now, they also have another foster child in their family.
Peter and Tony share a beautiful story. Sadly, there are thousands of kids in the American foster care system who didn’t have that kind of luck.
At the moment, on any day, there are approximately 443,000 children in foster care in America. Children spend an average of two years in the system, with many of them staying as long as five years or more.
Children entering foster care are not as young as anyone would expect, either: The average age for kids entering the system for the first time is eight years old. Many of these children live in family settings, yet, eleven percent of them live in group homes and institutions.
Every year, over 10,000 children leave foster care not because they are adopted, but because they are too old for the system. Chances are that these children will become homeless, unemployed, or incarcerated, more than any other population group.
How can you help foster kids?
There are more ways to help kids in foster care:
— Become a foster parent yourself.
— Consider adopting a child.
— Donate to children’s rights groups that directly support children in foster care.
— Donate to foster families.
— Volunteer with organizations that support foster kids. (For example, CASA)
— Become a mentor for current and former foster kids. (Try Foster Care to Success)
— Become a respite foster parent: This is someone with the necessary qualifications and background check to watch over foster kids so their foster parents can have a much-needed break.
There are numerous ways you can help foster children so that more kids will end up happy like Tony with Peter. Always keep in mind that the more kids we help, the more of them will be able to have a positive influence on the future of the United States and the entire world as a whole.