A single Florida man became a father of five after officially adopting an entire family of siblings to prevent them from being separated by the foster care system last week.
According to a local NBC affiliate, Friday, Robert Carter adopted siblings Marionna, Makayla, Robert, Giovanni, and Kiontae. When asked why he chose to take such a huge leap of faith, he explained that he personally knew how it felt to be removed from a biological home and ripped away from loved ones.
Carter –who is originally from Hamilton County, Ohio –went into the foster care system when he was 12 and as a result, spent years estranged from some of his younger siblings. Fortunately, when he got older he emancipated and ultimately granted custody of his younger sister and guardianship of his younger brother.
“When permanent custody was awarded to JFS, the five siblings were already placed in three different foster homes,” explained adoption worker Stacey Barton.
“Mr. Carter was the only foster parent willing and able to adopt all of the children. His childhood background has made him aware of the importance of keeping siblings together. He says that he enjoys being their father and that parenting them is easier than he could have ever imagined! His life is busy, with a lot of love, laughter and loudness! I have enjoyed working with him and witnessing the children bond as siblings.”
“I understand how they feel,” said Carter who was fostering the three boys when he and the two girls’ individual foster moms all came together to reunite the children for the first time in six months. “I understand what they went through, so it really touched me. I was already thinking about adopting all of the kids but when I saw them crying, I was like, ‘Ok, I’m going to take all five to keep them together.’”
He believed that taking care of his siblings along with his time mentoring and volunteering at South Avondale Elementary prepared him to adopt.
“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.’ Like Marionna. She’s warmed up so much since the beginning. At first, she didn’t like me. 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. So just making memories, letting them know I’m here and they never have to go. I’m here for them no matter what.”