Peter Habyarimana (@fosterdadflipper)
Allow me to introduce you to our father feature for the month of August, Peter Habyarimana. I'm not sure how I stumbled across Peter's page, but when I did, it definitely stood out to me. First, the name itself, @fosterdadflipper, and then, after scrolling and reading more, I realized that his story was rather unique. Not only is Peter a foster dad, he's a single dad. That alone was enough for me to reach out to him and find out how I could share his journey, his story, his passion.
As you will read, Peter's upbringing is the main reason why he chose to foster and adopt children. He has shared his unique and powerful story with people all over the world, and I'm honored to have the opportunity to share a small part of Peter's fatherhood journey as well as the foster parent experience here.
Prepare to be in awe of Peter's generous and open spirit! Enjoy!
Fostering comes with many challenges and, no doubt, endless rewards. Specifically, as a single foster dad, what are the biggest challenges you've faced?
There are many challenges for a man fostering on his own. I’ve had 11 kids and each comes with their own unique set of challenges. For me, the hardest thing about being on my own has been not having a second set of eyes or someone you can leave behind to go run an errand. That means I must always take the kids with me everywhere we go. Even just running a small errand like picking up milk or eggs can be a challenge because I have to be everywhere at all times, including bathrooms. It can be impossible to find “me time” or to do a few things that I love to do.
For you personally, what is the most rewarding part of being a foster dad?
The most rewarding part for me is knowing that I’m standing in the gap for the kids' parents, taking care of their children for them while they sort their issues. It’s also a blessing to provide a loving and safe home for a child who hasn’t had a pleasant home most of their lives. It gives me joy, knowing that I’ve played a small part in meeting their basic needs. That makes the difficult journey worth repeating over and over.
What events led to your decision to foster children?
When I was a child, I didn’t have a good home. I found myself on the street from age 10 to age 15. Miraculously, a stranger took me in, believed in me, saw potential in me and stood by me on my good and bad days. Now it’s time for me to provide the love, care and empathy that was shown to me as a child.
What role did your father play in your life as a child?
My dad didn’t provide any goodness whatsoever. He was my worst influence. The man who picked me up off the street, however, and generously gave me the best the world has to offer, has been my role model in life. He has shown me how to love unconditionally, and has always taught me to take care of those in need, especially children. He inspires me to provide the same love and care for these foster children that I longed for as a boy.
Tell us a little bit about your son.
He is an amazing, smart, loving, funny, caring and passionate kid. He loves to read. Since coming to live with me, he’s read over 400 books, all kinds!
How old was he when he first came into your life?
He has been with me since he was 11 and he just turned 13, so 16 months!
In a recent Instagram post, you alluded to the idea that sometimes your family gets treated differently. What is the most important thing you want people to know about your family?
My son is Caucasian and I’m black but my kids don’t see color at all. All they see is a dad and a family who loves them. I understand the world we live in but I wish people would look at us and just see FAMILY.
Where do you draw support when it comes to your journey as a father?
I have close friends from whom I draw support and, of course, our community of foster moms and dads who are always there for me when I need them.
Lastly, what advice would you give someone who is interested in fostering children?
It’s important to remember that these kids had no choice when it comes to their parents or to the homes they were born into. It’s our opportunity to change that for them, to love them and provide for their basic needs in life. It’s also easy to judge their parents, but it’s important to understand where they come from and how they got where they are. Foster kids are sweet and loving, just like any other kids from stable homes. The trauma they have endured is what requires us to help them heal. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it will also take a village to help these children navigate life and overcome their trauma. It’s an honor to be able to provide the love necessary to do just that.