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An Ohio man is doing everything he can to ensure that his five siblings in the foster care system stay together by becoming their father.

Cincinnati hair stylist and salon owner Robert Carter, who specializes in helping people with hair loss, knows firsthand what it’s like to be in the foster care system after he and his two siblings were taken away from their mother, who struggled with alcoholism. Carter told Yahoo Life that he is grateful for his journey.

“[Being in foster care] has only had a positive impact on me …… I’m better than when I was with my mom,” he explained. “I’ve met three of my best friends in foster care. Just about everyone that’s currently in my life, I’ve met through foster care. And I don’t know that I would have been a foster parent if I [hadn’t experienced] foster care [on my own], because I have that understanding and insight.”

Carter was given custody of his sister when he was 18 and his brother when he was 21, which had the added impact of making him a foster parent. He first raised two boys in 2017 and then in December 2018 raised his now three sons, Robert, Giovanni and Kiontae, who were initially supposed to be with them only temporarily.

“I was supposed to save them for the weekend, but it turned into a couple of months …… This will be our third Christmas together,” he said.

Before they were placed with him, he was told the children were having problems with two other foster homes, such as destroying one of their foster parents’ homes, which led to them being kicked out, according to Carter. But he said he never had behavioral problems with the boys. Then, once his son, Robert, felt comfortable, he admitted to changing everything.

“He told me they had sisters,” recalls Carter, who immediately took action, working with Work and Family Services and the foster mothers of the boys’ two sisters, Marionna and Makayla, to help coordinate the reunification, which required placement at a local elementary school. And what a touching reunion it was.

“They just hugged and cried, and at that point I knew I had to take all five so they could be together because they couldn’t find anyone who could take them. I had fallen in love with them and everything they were going through, I had experienced firsthand. When I was in foster care, my youngest brother was only two years old and I didn’t see him again until he was 16, and I just wouldn’t let that happen to them,” he recalls.

So on Friday, which happened to be National Adoption Day, Carter officially announced and adopted all five siblings. A spokeswoman for the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services called Carter’s act of love “truly selfless and inspiring.

“Adoption creates new families and, in this case, keeps families intact,” the statement reads. “Mr. Carter’s commitment to keeping siblings together is a powerful statement of love and generosity. There are many, many children here and elsewhere who are waiting to be adopted. You don’t have to adopt five children. Adopting a child means a lifetime of love for the child and the parents. Mr. Carter provides an example that can inspire others to support families and change lives.”

Carter admits he has been surprised by the outpouring of support he has received since his adoption, but hopes he can serve as an example to single parents who may not be sure about adoption.

“A lot of people think you have to be married to adopt or be an adoptive parent. I want people to know that no matter what the situation is, [you can] be an adoptive parent if you are capable of caring for a child,” he explained. “We have a lot of children still in detention, and 400 children in Ohio waiting for forever homes. I’m glad I was able to help encourage and inspire others to come forward.”


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