An Ohio man has adopted a group of five foster children to keep them from being separated. Robert Carter, 29, adopted the five after his own experience in the foster care system.
Carter's choice started when he fostered three boys in December 2018. He found out they had two sisters and contacted the girls' foster moms to set up a playdate for the siblings to see each other again.
In June 2019, once he saw all five together, he decided they shouldn't have to be separated again.
It's been a long process, but Carter started fostering all five of the siblings in January of this year. Eventually, and against advice from friends, he was able to adopt the children.
Despite the fact he is a single man, Carter said it was easier than some people think.
"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."
Part of this might be due to his own life experience.
Carter is an openly gay. He knew if he wanted kids, adoption would be his path to parenting.
It's his firsthand experience in foster care that made him so empathetic to his kids' situation. Carter and his eight siblings were placed into foster homes when he was 12, separating him from his family.
As he got older, he was able to take custody and guardianship of some of his siblings, but the youngest ones he wouldn't see for years.
He swore he wouldn't let that happen again.
After fostering the kids through 2020, on October 30t, Carter was granted the adoption and officially became the kids' dad.
That moment was the biggest relief, as Carter's been through the adoption process before, only for it to fall through at the last moment.
"That broke my heart but I had to keep going. So up until the day of court, I was thinking, 'What if something happens? What are they going to tell me?'"
While Carter loves all the children, there's a particular care he's taken with the oldest, Marionna. Despite only being 10 years old, during their time in foster care, Marionna had to grow up fast and act as a parent to her other siblings.
Now, Carter is making sure she can just be a kid again.
"I won't even let her make [her siblings] a bowl of cereal because that's not her responsibility. She's done it for too long when she shouldn't have had to in the first place."
The Carters couldn't be happier, and are settling in to being real family. But five kids, are five kids and it's not always the easiest ensuring they have everything they need.
To that end, Carter set up a GoFundMe to try and buy a home for him and his kids. At the time of writing, it's raised over $119,000 out of its $150,000 goal.