A couple years ago, I spoke at a conference for foster care providers and youth who had recently aged out of foster care. The experience taught me several lessons, including the value of ensuring that siblings in foster care (who are usually placed in with separate foster families) be allowed to communicate and see each other regularly. One would think that’s a no-brainer within the foster care system, but it’s not.

Thus, it was with great interest that I read about twenty-nine-year old Robert Carter, who had entered the foster care system in Hamilton County, OH near Cincinnati as a pre-teen.  While his foster family treated him well, Robert was separated from his eight siblings, some of whom he didn’t see for years. Eventually, Robert aged out of foster care and became the guardian of two younger siblings.

Fast forward to more recently. Robert and his then partner, Kiontae Gillan (they have since separated) had become foster parents to three brothers, who had originally been placed in three separate foster homes. Robert then learned that the boys had two sisters who were living with separate foster families. As a result, Robert reached out to the girls’ foster mothers and arranged for a meeting of all the siblings, where everyone (children and foster parents) ended up crying over their joy of being briefly reunited.

It was at that meeting that Robert’s heart—already enlarged with enormous compassion—grew even more. “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.’”

And that’s exactly what he did in early November at a court adoption ceremony. The five children, ranging in ages four to ten, suddenly had a parent who would provide a safe space for them all to grow up together.

Robert, a cosmetologist, wig shop owner and tutor/volunteer at a local elementary school, summed up his hopes for his new family: “Making memories to replace a lot of the bad ones. 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.’”

Imagine the degree of love, persistence, and grit that Robert has had his entire life to do this now. We need far more Robert Carters in the world! Click here and here to read the story.

One last point: several states either have or are seeking to prevent LGBTQ people from being foster or adoptive parents. If that had been the case in Ohio, five children would still be living in separate foster homes. Think about that.