Being put into foster care is traumatic, and it helps to have a sibling with you. Unfortunately, siblings in the foster care system don’t always fare well. Adopt Us Kids, a child advocacy organization, estimates that around 3 out of 4 kids in foster care have a sibling in foster care, but more than 65% of these siblings get separated into different homes. For larger groups of siblings, the odds are even worse. Sibling separations can cause anxiety, exacerbate existing issues, and have long-lasting effects on children.
Robert Carter, an Ohio man, has adopted five foster siblings as a single father, and he knows all too well the trauma of family separation.
Carter went into the foster program when he was 12 and was separated from his brother and sisters.
“I didn’t eat for a week,” Carter said in an interview with TODAY Parents. “I didn’t know where my family was. I didn’t know if I would ever see them again. It was traumatizing.”
Carter started fostering the three boys—Robert (age 9), Giovanni (age 5), and Kiontae (age 4)—in December of last year and then brought their sisters Marionna (age 10) and Makayla (age 7) into the family.
“I understand how they feel,” Carter told WLWT. “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 says the kids are making progress and adjusting to their new life. He told TODAY Parents they’ve started sleeping in their own beds.
“I used to get up and find them all together,” Carter said. “But they’re no longer afraid of being ripped apart.”