A man who grew up in foster care has just become a father of five, after working to reunite and adopt a group of siblings.
Robert Carter, 29, from Ohio, last week formally adopted the siblings after spending months trying to bring them back together.
Initially fostering three brothers – Robert, nine, Giovanni, five and Kionta, four in December last year, he spent the next six months trying to reconnect them with their sisters Marionna,10 and Makayla, seven.
Carter knows all too well the pain of being separated from siblings, having himself grown up away from his eight younger brothers and sisters after being put into foster care at the age of 12.
An experience that still haunts him, as he told Today Parents.
"I didn't eat for a week," he told the program. "I didn't know where my family was. I didn't know if I would ever see them again. It was traumatising."
Thanks to his big heart, Carter was able to ensure the family had a very different experience to his own and shared the moment he managed to reunite them.
"Everybody was just crying and hugging and not wanting to let go," he said "In that moment, I knew I had to adopt all five."
He also spoke of the anticipation leading up to the October 30 adoption, saying he was always on edge about it being postponed or cancelled.
"I was so nervous it would fall through at the last minute."
"But I get to be there for them for the rest of their life. They never have to worry about being neglected or alone ever again. We're a family forever."
Robert Carter adopted 5 children today. He spent some time in foster care himself and wanted to make sure all these siblings stayed together.Posted by Hamilton County JFS Adoption & Foster Care Recruitment on Friday, October 30, 2020
He is also determined to ensure all the kids get the childhood he didn't, particularly the eldest, Marionna, who like him, has had to grow up fast.
"When I was 10 I was left in charge to take care of everyone. I'd steal food because that was the only way we'd eat," he told Today.
"Marionna, she was the mother figure. She was responsible for everything. I understand what that's like."
Carter has been patiently trying to teach her how to relax and that 'her job is to play', and like her brothers and sister, she was slowly starting to believe this was their forever home.
"I used to get up and find them all together," Carter said of the kids not sleeping in their own beds. "But they're no longer afraid of being ripped apart."