'Dad' takes in a stranger during his time of greatest need.
Tony's childhood was pretty grim. After his birth parents gave him up for adoption, he spent a few years bouncing around the foster care system before being adopted at age 4. But, in a truly awful turn of events, those parents left him in a Charlotte, North Carolina hospital when he was 11, and never returned.
Shortly afterwards, Peter Mutabazi received a phone call from a foster care worker requesting that he take Tony for the weekend. Peter, who had already been a foster parent for three years, instantly knew he had to step in after being told Tony’s story. “By that time, I was crying,” Peter told Good Morning America. “I thought, ‘Who would do that?’”
“Once I knew the parents’ rights were signed off and he had nowhere to go, I knew I had to take him. . . I had the room, the resources, so I had no reason to let him go.”
Peter has been brightening up Tony's life ever since and in November 2019 he made it official, adopting the young teen to become his dad. “He’s the nicest, smartest kid I’ve ever had,” Peter said. “From day one, he’s always called me ‘dad.’ He truly meant it and he looks up to me. He’s proud to show me at school and say, ‘Hey, he’s my dad.’ That’s something that I love about him.”
The story of the fun-loving father and son went viral this year, and 72,000 followers are now fans of the happy duo on Instagram.
Peter’s urge to be there for Tony and for other kids in the foster care system stems from his own childhood experiences. Growing up in Uganda, he ran away from his abusive home when he was 10 years old. Thankfully, a kind adult in his neighbourhood took Peter under his wing and made sure he finished school. Now, Peter sees his adoption of Tony as a way of paying it forward, to honour the person who saved his own young life.