Tyshawn and Tyanna

Robertson Family

Sixteen-year-old twins Tyshawn and Tyanna, left, were adopted by their brother Tyson Robertson, who is raising them with help from Asia Gray-Battle, right.

Brotherly LoveSummer 2014 Spotlight |

Tyson Robertson and Asia Battle-Gray were our Foster Parents of the Quarter (4th Quarter, 2014). The recognition goes to foster parents who go above and beyond expectations.

Tyson Robertson grew up quickly as the oldest son of a single parent addicted to drugs. He didn’t have much of a childhood, though he didn’t realize it at the time. He lived occasionally in homeless shelters and constantly in the presence of drugs. At age 7, he learned to cook for himself and a brother, three years younger. When he was 12, twin siblings were born into his family and he became their stand-in parent, feeding them, watching them and diapering them for days at a time alone.

Tyson stayed out of trouble through it all, got good grades and vowed to be different than his mother. At age 28, he’s made good on that vow. He’s got a college degree and a full-time job in security at Red Hat, and he’s raising the twins, 16-year-olds Tyshawn and Tyanna, whom he’d cared for as a youngster. He adopted his siblings on March 4, and he’s in the process now of adopting another brother who is 7 and living in foster care.

Tyson was just 21 in March 2007 when he took custody of the 8-year-old twins. He’d moved back to Raleigh from Greensboro six months earlier, and he saw history repeating itself in his family. His mother was still using drugs and moving his siblings from place to place, sometimes staying in shelters. He opened his apartment to Tyshawn and Tyanna for visits, but he knew he had to do more when he discovered they were about to be placed into foster care. “Once that came up, I said, ‘That’s it. I’ve got my own place. I’ve got my own car. They’re coming with me,’ ” he says. “The system or me, it’s not a hard choice to make. I just can’t let that happen. So I decided to help them.”

Tyson later became a licensed foster parent through Methodist Home for Children and set out to adopt his siblings. In his care, Tyshawn and Tyanna have grown into independent teenagers and A-B students who both plan to go to college. They have a sibling-like relationship with Tyson, but they know he’s in charge, and they love his longtime girlfriend, Asia Gray-Battle, whom they call “Buddy.” Asia helps with the “girly stuff,” Tyson says, especially the hair, and her biology degree has inspired Tyanna’s interest in science as a career choice. Tyshawn shares Tyson’s love of video games, and he wants to earn a degree in video game design.

Tyson says he can’t explain why he and his siblings have turned out the way they have, thriving in spite of a childhood marked by instability. He’s just glad he can provide a loving, stable home for his siblings. “Statistically I’m not supposed to be the way I am, and the kids are not supposed to be the way they are,” he says. “We just are. We want to do good.”