A singleton, who was separated from his siblings as a child in foster care, has adopted five brothers and sisters to prevent them from experiencing the same heartache.
Robert Carter, 29, from Cincinnati, Ohio, is now the loving father of Marionna, ten, Robert Junior, nine, Makayla, eight, Giovanni, five, and Kiontae, four, after he adopted them on October 30.
The salon owner was just 12 years old when he was placed in a foster home and forced apart from his eight siblings.
So when he became a foster parent in December 2018 to three boys, he insisted on reuniting them with their two sisters.
After successfully bringing the five of them together, Robert adopted the children to ensure the siblings are never separated again.
‘I’ve always known I wanted to adopt because I grew up in foster care myself,’ said Robert, who split from his partner Kiontae Gillan, three months ago.
The hairdresser added: ‘I knew about my sexuality very young, so I always figured I’d have to adopt if I wanted kids.’
He began fostering Robert Jr., Giovanni, and Kiontae, in December 2018, later learning that they had been separated from their sisters Marionna and Makayla for six months.
Robert contacted the girls’ foster mothers and set up a play date for the kids to be reunited.
He added: ‘The kids saw each other and started hugging and crying and wouldn’t let go. That was the moment I said, “Okay I’m going to take all five.”‘
Robert, who was one of nine children, entered the foster care system when his youngest sibling was two – and he didn’t see them again until they were 16.
‘I know the pain of being separated too well and I could not let that happen to them,’ he said.
People expressed concern that Robert was too young, or that it would be difficult, but he said he’s enjoying every moment of it.
Robert added: ‘My five kids are amazing. A lot of people think it’s hard if you’re by yourself or don’t have a house, but it’s a lot easier than people think it’s going to be and kids need parents whether it’s two or one.
‘After it was finalised, I just cried because it was over and I didn’t have to worry about if they were going to be moved or would have to suffer anymore. I woke up the next day feeling relieved, at peace and blessed to have these kids.’
The Carter family is now looking to buy a home and a GoFundMe has been set up to help them which, at time of writing, had over $39,000 of the $150,000 goal.
Robert said he’s been overwhelmed by the support people have shown.
‘I can’t even explain how unbelievable it is. Just to have support and people sharing our story to bring awareness to the fact that we still have so many kids that need homes,’ he said.
‘I’m just happy that I’m able to help encourage people to step up as foster and adoptive parents so we can get these kids into great hands.’
Photographs taken on October 30, when the six-month adoption process was concluded, show Robert and all his children wearing matching red and black ensembles as they smiled with their paperwork.
Kiontae Gillan, Robert’s partner, was also there in support since he still helps care for the children and is considered to be their ‘papa’, according to Robert.