Robert Carter is an amazing example of someone who took the pain from their childhood and used it as inspiration to help those in a similar circumstance as an adult.
At the age of 12, Carter was placed in foster care in Hamilton County, Ohio because his mother struggled with alcoholism and was unable to care for him and his eight siblings. Once he was emancipated, he adopted two of his younger siblings he hadn't seen for years.
"My mom had nine kids, and I didn't see my youngest again. He was two. I didn't see him again until he was 16, so for me going through that, I knew how important it is for them to see each other and be around each other," Carter said according to FOX19.
In December 2019, Carter began fostering three brothers, Robert Jr., Giovanni, and Kiontae. Later, he learned they had two sisters, Marionna and Makayla, in the foster system as well.
"When I had my boys before I got the girls, that's all they talked about was their sisters," Carter said.
The three boys and two girls had been separated for six months, so when Carter and the girls' foster parents brought the children together, there was an outpouring of emotion.
"We met up for visits, and all the kids were crying," Carter said. "They didn't want to leave each other, and at that moment, I knew, ok, I have to adopt all five."
So Carter worked hard to afford a larger house for all five children and last Friday, on Adoption Day in Hamilton County, Carter became their father.
"I've never had a single father adopt five children," Adoption case manager Stacey Barton said. "I've had married couples who have adopted six or seven, so this was a unique experience for me. Children need families, and it's an opportunity for Mr. Carter to show the community that he can do it and others can too."
While it's beautiful that the entire family is back together, the transition hasn't been perfect. But, as any parent knows, that's par for the course. Carter says it took his daughter, Marionna, a little while to warm up to him.
"At first, she didn't like me," he admits. "But eventually, she came around. She walked in my room last night and said, 'I just want to say thanks for taking us in and taking care of us when our real mom couldn't.' It just really touched me."
Having personal experience in the foster care system has given Carter a deep understanding of what his children are going through so he knows how important it is to make them feel secure after so much chaos.
He says his new job is "making memories to replace a lot of the bad ones." Carter said. "Every night I talk to them and let them know, 'I'm your dad forever. I know what it's like and I'm always here for you.'"
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