"A house is not a blessing unless it can be shared, even in the toughest times," the single dad said, explaining why, despite the timing, he couldn't forget the needs of others.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on August 7, 2020. It has since been updated.
Peter Mutabazi is no stranger to the foster care system. Having had a difficult childhood himself, he has dedicated his life to helping children in vulnerable situations. As soon as he had the means to do so, he opened up his home and heart to children in foster care. In fact, it is through fostering that he met his son Anthony, a teen who'd been abandoned at the hospital by his adoptive parents. Meeting each other changed both Anthony and Peter's life forever—as we've previously reported—and so when the pair moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, last year, they knew they wanted to continue fostering and opening their home to other children in unfortunate circumstances.
However, according to Scary Mommy, moving to a new state meant Peter had to go through the long approval process all over again. It took almost a year for the approval to finally come through and as fate would have it, he received the green light just as many states, including North Carolina, issued stay at home orders due to the pandemic. "I knew the chances of placement or respite were close to none. All offices were closed and every family had been in lockdown for almost two weeks," Peter recalled.
Although the odds of receiving a placement at such a time were very slim, the call came just when Peter was least expecting it. "Would you be willing to take in a 7-year-old boy during quarantine?" his new social workers asked him. They gave him some background about the 7-year old boy they hoped would be a good fit for him, but Peter was initially a bit apprehensive given the current circumstances. "I was a little shocked, but listened to why they needed me to take him in during this lockdown," he explained.
Both Peter and the social workers were well aware of the risks involved with bringing a new foster kid into his home amid the pandemic. "We had already been in quarantine for more than 2 weeks and I could not imagine taking someone in. We had no clue where he had been or who he had been in contact with," he said. Peter had taken all the necessary precautions to protect himself and Anthony and struggled with making the right decision about the 7-year-old who was in need of a home.
Although he was worried about his son's safety, Peter couldn't help but wonder what would happen to the young boy if the social workers couldn't find a home for him. All kinds of questions raced through his head as he contemplated the right move for everyone involved.
"All I could think about were the what-ifs. So much was going through my mind. I was taken aback," he explained. However, when he heard why the young boy needed a home and a loving family, Peter knew it was time for a family meeting with his son. As he filled Anthony in on the call and request to foster, the 13-year-old set aside his video game and listened intently.
"Hold old is he?" the teen asked. "Seven," replied Peter. "Well, he's probably going to be annoying and nagging, but he can play games with me," Anthony responded and Peter felt a mini sigh of relief. "Okay, well that wasn’t too bad..." he thought when he heard his son say, "can he go biking with me when he comes?" Peter immediately knew their only choice was to take in the little boy. "It was heartwarming to know he was thrilled to share all he had with him. I knew we had to risk it all so we could provide a safe and loving home for this little one," he said.
"A few hours later he arrived at our home. I didn't realize how tiny and unsure he would look. I'm not sure he had ever stayed at a Black man's home before," Peter recalled. As the young boy slowly took in his new surroundings, something unexpected and really beautiful happened.
The moment he saw Anthony, his smile grew from ear to ear, said Peter, lighting up the entire room as the two boys introduced themselves to each other. It didn't take long for them to go digging through thousands of pieces of Lego in the garage and that was when Peter truly knew he'd made the right decision.
"A house is not a blessing unless it can be shared, even in the toughest times," he said, explaining why despite the timing, he couldn't forget the needs of others. Announcing the arrival of his new family member on Instagram, Peter wrote: I choose to risk it all for my family to provide a safe and loving home for a foster kid that had no place to go in the midst of coronavirus and quarantine... I could not imagine where this little one would go if we did not step in to help.
I trusted my heart and agreed to the placement. We knew we would have little to no emergency help from our friends since everyone had been quarantined, but we also knew all he needed was a safe home and family to love on him. My son is 13 and barely has any toys and games, he continued. Taking in a 7-year-old has made us all be more creative in ways that we can find fun things to do. It has been a joy to have this little boy with us despite my fears of the unknown.