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CINCINNATI, Ohio (WNCN) — An Ohio man has gone from single foster dad to father of five.

Robert Carter, who grew up in foster care himself, knows what it’s like to be separated from siblings. He went into foster care at age 12, when his mother, who struggled with alcoholism, couldn’t care for her children. He didn’t see some of his younger siblings for years.

Once he was emancipated, Carter was granted custody of a younger sister and guardianship of a younger brother.

His memories motivated him to change the path of a family of siblings by adopting all five of them so that they wouldn’t be separated.

Carter began by fostering three boys. Then he, the boys and their other siblings’ — two girls — came together to see each other for the first time in six months. The children and foster parents were all in tears, according to Hamilton County JFS Adoption & Foster Care Recruitment.

Carter told the adoption agency in an interview that he had already been thinking about adopting them all, but this moment sealed the deal for him.

“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 said he is looking forward to “making memories” with his children — Marionna, Makayla, Robert, Giovanni and Kiontae — and letting them know “they never have to go.” 

“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.”