An Ohio man has gone above and beyond to make sure five siblings in the foster care system stayed together by becoming their dad.
Robert Carter, a Cincinnati hair stylist and salon owner who specializes in helping people with hair loss, knows first hand what it is like to be in the foster care system after he and his two siblings were taken away from their mother, who struggled with alcoholism. Carter tells Yahoo Life that he is grateful for his journey.
“[Being in foster care] had nothing but positive effects on me... I had it better than I had when I was with my mom,” he explains. “I met three of my best friends in foster care. Just everybody who’s currently in my life, I’ve met through foster care. And I don’t know if I [hadn’t gone] through foster care [myself], I wouldn’t have became a foster parent with the understanding and insight that I have.”
When Carter was 18, he received custody of his little sister and then of his brother when he was 21, something that would have an added impact of him becoming a foster parent. He first fostered two boys in 2017 before fostering his now three sons, Robert, Giovanni and Kiontae in December 2018, which was initially supposed to be temporary with them only.
“I was supposed to keep them for the weekend, but it turned into a couple months... this will now be our third Christmas together,” he says.
According to Carter, prior to their placement with him, he was told that the children had issues at two other foster homes, like destroying one of their foster parents’ homes, which caused them to get kicked out. But he says, he never had behavioral problems with the boys. Then once his son Robert became comfortable, he made an admission that would change everything.
“He told me that they had sisters,” Carter remembers and he immediately sprung into action working with job and family services, as well as the foster mothers of the boys’ two sisters, Marionna and Makayla, to help coordinate a reunion, which took place at a local elementary school. And what an emotional reunion it was.
“They just hugged and cried, and that’s when I knew I had to take all five so they could stay together ‘cause they couldn’t find anyone who could take them all. I had already fell in love with them and all they had been through, I had already experienced it myself. When I was in foster care, my youngest brother was two, I didn’t see him again until he was 16 and I was just not going to let that happen to them,” he remembers.
So on Friday, which happened to be National Adoption Day, Carter made it official and adopted all five siblings. A spokesperson for Hamilton County Jobs & Family Services called Carter’s act of love “truly selfless and inspiring.”
“Adoption builds new families, and in this case, keeps families whole,” the statement read. “Mr. Carter’s commitment to keep the brothers and sisters together is a powerful statement about love and generosity. There are many, many children here and elsewhere who are waiting to be adopted. You don’t have to adopt five children. Adopting a child means a lifetime of love for the child — and the parent. Mr. Carter has provided an example that can inspire others to support families and change lives.”
Carter admits that he is surprised by the outpouring of support that he has received since the adoption, but hopes he can be an example to single parents who may not be sure about adoption.
“A lot of people think you have to be married to adopt or be a foster parent. I want people to know: No matter the situation, as long as you have the means to take care of a child [you can] become a foster parent,” he explains. “We have so many kids still in custody, there are 400 kids in Ohio waiting on forever homes. And I am happy that I was able to help encourage and inspire other people to step up.”
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