On Adoption and Affirmation, With Peter Mutabazi
Dadditude Newsletter #11
Dadditude interviews dads from different backgrounds, professional fields and ethnicities to get their insights on what it means to be a dad in the current moment.
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On Adoption and Affirmation, With Peter Mutabazi
A kind stranger rescued Peter from the streets in Uganda at age 10 and changed his life. Today, Peter lives in America, is a single, black foster and adoptive dad, and has dedicated his life to advocating for the most vulnerable children.
We spoke with him recently about being a foster and adoptive dad, the power of words of affirmation, and his mission to make as many kids as possible feel seen, heard, and known.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m originally from Uganda. I’m a single, black foster and adoptive dad of 4 kids and 2 dogs (currently). I am the founder of Now I Am Known and a full time dad advocating for the most vulnerable children in our communities, especially kids in foster care. You can find me on Instagram @fosterdadflipper. The man who rescued me from the streets used words of affirmation that changed my life forever. Today, being a foster dad for kids from hard places I know using words of affirmation is impactful. That’s why I created a Plushie modeled after our dog, Simba, that wears a bandana with 12 affirming phrases. For every Now I Am Known Plushie sold we also donate one to foster or adoption agencies and hospitals. My kids and I would like to donate as many Plushies as we can and get them into the hands of the kids who need them the most so they can truly know that they are seen, heard, and known.
Tell us about your kids.
Ryder is 5. He is full of energy and is one of the kindest kids I’ve ever met.
Skye is 6. She is Ryder’s sister and she’s a girly-girl who loves cute dresses, playing with her dolls, and bossing everyone around!
Kai is 17. He’s smart, very active, doesn’t shy away from any topic or talking to anyone, and he has some big dreams that we can’t wait to watch him realize.
Anthony is 15. He showed up at my home when he was 11 and almost immediately declared that I would be his dad. He is kind, smart, an amazing reader, extremely creative, and he’s growing up to be an amazing ambassador for Now I Am Known and for other kids, especially other teens in foster care.
Tell us about your journey growing up and becoming a foster and adoptive dad.
Like so many of the stories of our kids in foster care, that too is my story. I grew up poor and became a street kid at the age of 10. Through the kindness of a stranger my life changed. He gave me the opportunity to hope and dream. Eventually I made it to the United States and I chose to pay it forward by becoming a foster parent. Today, I’ve had 16 kids and adopted 1, my son Anthony.
How do you manage to mix work and family?
I have dedicated my life to advocating for children. Becoming a parent has given me even more empathy towards our most vulnerable kids. Knowing the impact I can have on my own kids with words of affirmation has made it clear to me that I will always be working towards spreading my mission to make as many kids feel seen, heard, and known.
What do you think is your biggest strength as a parent?
I didn’t have a good childhood. Today, I choose to use those challenges and experiences to be a better, less reactive, more understanding dad who can support kids to navigate through their trauma.
What stresses you out the most these days as a parent?
Being a single parent. It’s not like I can just run out to do an errand when I need to. I have to juggle and plan constantly.
What side of parenthood do you wish you had invested more time and energy in the past?
I have no regrets in my parenthood to this point. I’ve invested my entire self into the process and embraced it. I love being a dad!
Can you tell us about an especially favorite/special moment with your kids recently?
I love car rides with the kids. That’s where I get to learn more about them. Their personalities come through more, and I love it when something they see on our drive triggers a past memory and they start to share about it.
Thank you Peter!
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We’ve enjoyed reading:
‘How’s Our Girl?’: On Loving a Foster Child and Letting Go
Every time we choose to love other mortal beings, someday, we will have to give them back.
How Adult Children Affect Their Mother’s Happiness
Plenty of moms feel something less than unmitigated joy around their grown-up kids. Make sure yours feels that she’s getting as much out of her relationship with you as she gives.
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