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Challenge: Perfectly Imperfect Parenting

Diary of a foster dad: More children means a room makeover!

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When the phone rings and they say, "the kids are coming" so many emotions happen. Especially when I am receiving a brother and a sister, and I have never hosted a little girl before! I’m excited and nervous, and “what did I sign up for” runs through my head. But It’s such a joy, and I am thrilled to open the door for them and invite them into our home.

Knowing these children are moving to a place they have never been after losing their parents and support system is something I take into consideration. They are coming to live with a stranger, and their lives have been painfully changed without them having any say in it. So, I make it my mission to create a loving and soothing environment for them when they first walk in. I know material things such as toys will not fix the sadness in their hearts or the confusion they must be feeling in the moment, but I hope it lets them know that they are known in my house and always will be safe here.6c267ba41dc3ef11fab8b89c3f0afda321f06685.jpg

As a foster parent, you are never really prepared for what’s coming- it’s overwhelming. “Am I really making a difference with just taking in 1- 2- or 3 children?” Knowing there are 400 thousand children in the foster care system, it’s a tough feeling to shake when you feel like you can’t save them all. Knowing there are more children out there who need a stable and loving home. When these feelings creep in, I try to focus on the ones I can help at the moment, and how I can make my home more comfortable for them.

After I receive the phone call, I have to prepare their bedroom because they need their own space. Having their own space gives them privacy, and allows them to feel safe. The kids don’t feel like they belong in most instances, so I want to give them a sense of “this is my home." I take pride in making my kids feel like they are a part of my family and at home the moment they walk through my front door.

As a foster dad, I always need people I can count on because they make it possible for me to truly be a dad! I also can’t thank foundations like Malouf enough because they help make this dream come true for the kids to sleep comfortably. The Malouf Foundation helps to restore rooms and eliminate physical triggers so children can be in an environment that will allow them to heal. Having a mattress may seem like a small matter to some but for me, I was sleeping on the dirt floor until I had my first mattress at age 16. So, providing a space that is comfortable for my kids is a top priority.


I think the most exciting part about setting up the kid’s bedroom this time was getting to prepare the little girl’s side. It’s a dream come true to have a little girl. I’ve mostly had boys, so this is exciting to see the world through a little girl’s eyes for the first time. Getting all of her stuff ready was so fun, especially putting together her dollhouse, and I am so fascinated with how much detail goes into these! I’m excited to have a girl join my family and to make her room and our house feel like she can be herself. It’s fun to add different elements to our home and add in Disney princesses and dollhouses. I’m excited to share this experience with her.

There is no better feeling than watching the children enter their new room for the first time. Hearing their excitement and asking questions always makes my heart so full. The simple things that they get excited over, such as having their own blanket and pajamas is such a great reminder to not take things for granted. It's such an honor to put a smile on my kid’s faces and I am beyond happy that I get to make them feel safe and loved.


Peter Mutabazi

Writer Samantha Jordan contributed to this essay.

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