“Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
This famous quote is true enough. But for those with exceptionally pain-filled pasts, it seems reasonable they would want to run from that pain to avoid repeating it. To learn by moving on and forgetting.
Robert Carter is quite the exception. Far from avoiding reminders of his past, he is embracing his pain with purpose to empower others so they don’t experience it. Five siblings, to be exact. Friday, Carter will be adopting Marionna, Makayla, Robert, Giovanni and Kiontae.
The salon owner was just 12 years old when he was placed in a foster home and forced apart from his eight siblings.
So when he became a foster parent in December 2018 to three boys, he insisted on reuniting them with their two sisters.
After successfully bringing the five of them together, Robert adopted the children to ensure the siblings are never separated again.
Robert Carter (pictured center), who was separated from his siblings as a child in foster care, has adopted five brothers and sisters to prevent them from experiencing the same heartache
As the third oldest of nine, Carter knows firsthand the tragedy of being removed from a biological home and separated from siblings. At 12, he came into foster care in Hamilton County when his mom, unsupported and struggling with alcoholism, was incapable of caring for her children. He didn’t see some of his younger siblings for years. Carter thrived and was granted custody of a younger sister and guardianship of a younger brother once he was emancipated. His memories motivated him to stand in the gap for his own family and for his new one.
Adoption Worker Stacey Barton confirmed Carter’s hero status.
“When permanent custody was awarded to JFS, the five siblings were already placed in three different foster homes,” she said. “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.”
Robert, from Ohio, is now the loving father of Marionna, ten, Robert Junior, nine, Makayla, eight, Giovanni, five, and Kiontae, four (pictured with their paperwork on October 30)
Carter was fostering the three boys when he and the girls’ foster moms came together so the kids could see each other for the first time in six months. The children and the foster parents were all in tears.
“I understand how they feel,” he said. “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.’ ”
Carter has been taking care of others his whole life. He missed school growing up so he could watch his younger siblings when his mom wasn’t around. Taking on custody and guardianship, being involved in HEMI mentoring and volunteering at South Avondale Elementary. He feels it is why he’s here.
The salon owner (pictured with his children and former partner, top left) was just 12 years old when he was placed in a foster home and forced apart from his eight siblings
After Adoption Day, when everything is official, Carter is looking forward to creating a new future with his children.
“Making memories to replace a lot of the bad ones.” he 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.”
So when Robert (pictured centre) became a foster parent in December 2018 to three boys, he insisted on reuniting them with their two sisters. After successfully bringing the five of them together, Robert adopted the children to ensure the siblings are never separated again
Carter became a licensed foster parent in 2017. In December 2018, the three boys, Robert, Giovanni and Kiontae, came into his care. Later, Marionna and Makayla joined.
“Once I did find out they had sisters, that’s when I started to advocate to set up visitations,” Carter said.
The siblings, who he said came from a neglectful home, were reunited after not seeing each other for six months.
Stacey Barton, adoption worker of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (JFS), said when permanent custody was awarded to JFS, the children were already placed in three different foster homes.
The Carter family (pictured posing up a storm following the conclusion of the adoption process) is now looking to buy a home and a GoFundMe has been set up to help them
“Mr. Carter was the only foster parent willing and able to adopt all of the children,” Barton said in a news release. “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.”
Carter said seven is his lucky number and he’d like to eventually adopt a newborn baby.
With all the attention his family’s story is getting, he wants people to know how important fostering and adoption are.
“As long as you have the means and love to give to kids, then anybody can do it,” he said.
Photographs taken on October 30, when the six-month adoption process was concluded, show Robert and all his children wearing matching red and black ensembles as they smiled with their paperwork.
Kiontae Gillan, Robert’s partner, was also there in support since he still helps care for the children and is considered to be their ‘papa’, according to Robert.