A single father has adopted five siblings to keep them together after he was separated from his own while in foster care.
Robert Carter of Ohio was placed into foster care at the age of 12 and was subsequently separated from his eight siblings.
The now 29-year-old did not want the three boys he fostered in December 2018 to endure a similar trauma so he decided to reunite them with their two sisters.
Carter then took his care of the five children to the next level by formally adopting them and ensuring that they will never be separated.Robert, however, remarkably is not the first single dad to adopt five children:
In an interview with People, Carter said: "I can't even begin to try to put it into words what it means.
"Just the fact that they're together, the fact that they have something that will help them remember their past... it's beautiful to watch them grow up together and make memories together."
Prior to adopting Carter, nine, Giovanni, five, and Kiontae, four, Carter had his own challenges as the eldest of nine children who had gone through the system.
"I was the parent figure," he recalled to the news outlet. "I was the one trying to feed my siblings and going out trying to find food to eat. When we got into foster care, I didn't know where they were and if they were taken care of. That's what set off my [years-long] depression."
It was these memories that prompted Carter to find ten-year-old Marionna and seven-year-old Makayla and reunite them with their three brothers in June 2019.
"My boys, they never talked about mom, they never talked about dad, just [their sisters], so I knew I had to make that happen," Carter said before revealing that the family was reunited at the girls' elementary school."
"We cried the entire time and that was the moment I was like, 'Okay, I have to adopt them and keep them together.'"
The five siblings were finally reunited on January 3 of this year, and Carter officially became their father on October 30.
The family all wore matching red and black outfits as they smiled while signing the adoption papers.
Kiontae Gillan, Carter's former partner who he separated from three months ago, was also present to support the family, and according to Carter is considered to be their "papa".
The finalization of the adoption was all the more significant to Carter as he had tried to adopt two children who had lived with him for a year and ten months, but it fell through.
"That broke my heart but I had to keep going," he shares. " So up until the day of court [this time], I was thinking, 'What if something happens? What are they going to tell me?'"
"I'm not a real emotional person and don't like to show it," adds Carter. "After it was finalized, I felt so relieved. I woke up the next day in complete ease. It's a fresh start for all of us."
Carter explained that since the adoptions, his home has "a lot louder than I'm used to", but it doesn't bother him in the slightest.
"I'd rather have that noise and know they're together than to not have it and have peace and quiet and know they're separated. It's worth it," he says, noting how he's enjoyed getting to watch each child develop their own unique personalities.
"They're some of the best kids I've had. Kiontae's an energetic child, he's my child who's gonna question everything," he explains. "Giovanni, that's my sweet child. He's like an old soul, he cuddles up to me and wants to help with everything."
"Makayla's sweet but really goofy. She loves to dance and loves everything girly," Carter continues. "Robert, he's a gaming kid. He's really smart and wants to create games when he gets older. He's really sweet also."
Carter said that he sees a lot of himself in his oldest daughter, Marionna, who described as "extremely shy" but "in charge."
"According to her, she wants to be a model, a hairstylist and a nurse," he shares. "She's the mother figure to the kids... but I won't even let her make them a bowl of cereal [now] because that's not her responsibility. She's done it for too long when she shouldn't have had to in the first place."