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Challenge: Gratitude & Giving

Diary of a foster dad: Making the transition from strangers to family

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As a single parent living as an immigrant in the United States, I have always tried to introduce myself to strangers. And in return have been blessed with many friendships. I never would have guessed that meeting one particular stranger would lead me on the path I am on today. Sometimes we think family means a stronger bond, but I think friendships can grow to be just as strong, if not stronger. I continuously count my blessings for all of the people I have met throughout my life.

Cole, who at the time was a stranger to me, now has become family. When he was just a young kid around the age of 21, he walked into my life. At the time, I was doing real estate, and he was looking for a mentor, and that is how our friendship blossomed. Along the way, I shared with him that I wanted to be a foster dad, and he suggested that I share my journey on social media. However, my social media was seriously lacking and, my knowledge on how to share my journey of becoming a foster dad was limited. Cole offered to help me by taking pictures and showing me how to launch my Instagram and Facebook pages. Cole has impacted my life so much, who knew a young stranger would turn into a friend helping me advocate for children.

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The strangers we meet along the way can change our lives! Growing up as a street kid, and having strangers that wanted to help me change my life, has instilled in me a sense of gratitude and appreciation for connecting with new people. The stranger sitting next to you on the bus could be someone that might change your life for the better. I have learned to embrace others, and the strangers I have met throughout my life have become more like family.

To my kids, I was a stranger at first when they walked into my house. And now we are a family. Thinking of strangers that come our way, we never know how they will change our lives. They could be one person that helps you move closer to your dreams. I'm not sure if I would be where I am today, without having met the people that have come into my life. In some way, they have changed my life entirely, making me a better human being.

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This week has been a blessing because Cole, who I met six years ago, not only finished medical school, but he also got married! I had the opportunity to take Anthony to their wedding, and I am so excited I had this experience with him. Cole and Anthony have a special bond, and Cole was also at Anthony’s adoption and has helped our mission to advocate for all children since the beginning. I got to show Anthony how kindness and curiosity to learn more about the people around us can lead to friendships you would never expect. I think it has been a great way to show him that relationships can blossom anywhere and turn into a blessing. The kindness of a stranger can turn into a special bond.

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My heart is happy after this week, and I hope my story encourages you to open up and talk to someone sitting next to you at a coffee shop or standing in line at the grocery store. One simple hello, or start of a conversation could lead to a friendship that changes your life for the better.

Blessings,

Peter Mutabazi

Writer Samantha Jordan contributed to this essay.

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