A single father of five adopted disabled children has spoken of his 'complete heartbreak' after his youngest son died aged two.
Breaking the tragic news, Ben Carpenter, from Huddersfield West Yorkshire, said that two-year-old Noah had died 'suddenly' and he had been left 'numb'.
He said: 'At 3.30 my beautiful baby boy passed away. Words cannot describe how numb I am feeling right now.'
Ben, who is also dad to Jack, Ruby, Lily and Joseph - all of whom have disabilities, said on Twitter: 'My heart is completely broken. fly high my beautiful boy!
'You brought so much joy to our life’s, in fact everyones life’s. I love you with all my heart my boy. Untill we meet again Daddy.'
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The full-time dad, who was believed to be the youngest gay adopter in the UK when he became a parent at 21, adopted baby Noah at 15 months, after seeing him in a magazine about adoption and deciding to go through the process for a fifth time.
Noah was born with Cornelia de Lange syndrome which causes birth defects that affect the use of his arms and legs.
While Ben is single, he has a robust support network, living with his mother, Rita, 65 and getting help from the children's godmother Michelle Jackson and close friend Jeanette Bottomley.
When he adopted Noah, in 2018, Ben, a former special needs worker, told the Mirro: 'I could see he had profound disabilities and I instantly fell in love.'
After spending years struggling to adopt as a single, gay man, Ben became father to his eldest son Jack, who has autism and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), ten years ago.
Since then, the doting dad has spent thousands of hours caring for his severely disabled children. Ruby has a condition called Pierre Robin syndrome, which affects the head and face as well as problems with movement in her arms.
Biological half-sister to Ruby is Lily, who is deaf, and there's also Joseph, who needs a colostomy bag and has Down's syndrome.
Ben told the Mirror that although parenthood in his house can be 'trying' at times, he loves being a father: 'It has its moments, I can’t sugarcoat that, we have some really trying times.
'I have five children all with really complex needs, there is a lot of appointments up and down the country which can be quite draining.'
He adds: 'People say it is hard work but I love every bit of what I do.'
Ben explained that going into nursery homes in his youth inspired him, adding: 'The love and support has grown with me and my love has grown with the family.'
The 34-year-old single father was previously named Adopter Champion of the Year after he adopted four disabled children since 2010.
Speaking to Femail, Ben said the attention in the media was lovely but that he hopes his story will inspire others to adopt.
Mr Carpenter says: 'People have called me a saint and say what I do is remarkable but I just wanted to be a dad and adopting is my way of becoming a dad.
'I only ever wanted one child when I started on the process of adoption. I am a believer in fate - this is what I was meant to do.'
Mr Carpenter's adoption journey began more than 10 years ago when he became one of youngest gay men in the country to adopt a child.
It had taken him around three years to convince the authorities that he was serious about adopting and, more importantly, had the maturity and skills to be a good dad.
All children have made significant progress since being adopted and have surprised social workers and medical professionals alike.
Mr Carpenter said: 'I get called a saint all the time and "how do you do it?"
My mum Rita is a huge support to me and my friend Jeanette is an amazing woman and help to me.
'The charity Adoption UK has also been lovely and deserves praise for the work they do and support they provide.'
He remains single to this day and doesn't see it as an issue.
Mr Carpenter said: 'I have never sought a relationship, it never interested me.
'I like to do my own thing. At the end of the day I like a cup of tea and a slice of cake and to not listen to someone snoring!'
When he's not looking after the children - which is pretty much 24/7 - Mr Carpenter works to educate other prospective adopters and sits on a local adoption panel.
He said: 'I celebrate and promote adoption. It's the most rewarding, satisfying and challenging thing I have done.
'I am not going to sugar-coat it because it's not for the faint-hearted.
You have to be 100% committed. If you are considering adopting, make sure you have childcare experience. If you are not already a parent make sure that it's right for you.
'I have always said that adopting a disabled child isn't right for everyone. You have to be totally honest with yourself.'
His driving motivation is seeing his children learning new skills and growing in confidence.
When he first met Ruby she was hooked up to a feeding machine, couldn't speak and was reliant on a wheelchair.
Mr Carpenter said: 'She looked a very sorry little girl.
'She was petrified and shaking and it broke my heart. She is eating and walking now, although she has life-long needs.
'I am quite proud of myself that I have turned her life around. Seeing the changes in her is just outstanding.
'Seeing my children and how they are now is why I get up in the morning.
'In this house we have an "I can do" attitude and we try to teach them as much independence as we can. Disability isn't the be all and end all.'