Tell us a little about yourself.
Hey y’all!! I’m Kelli and I was born and raised in FL. I married my high school hunny, and my best friend. I love all things creative, but rarely get anything done, and photography has a special place in my heart. My hubby and I are the proud owners of a pop up camper and hope to spend our weekends going to new places and unplugging. We have three children, one cat and two totally different personalities. I’m outgoing, a little bossy, always late and love to be the center of attention. My better half is calm cool and collected, early and rarely shows off. I think we make a pretty good team and I’m pretty lucky I found such a great husband and daddy.
How long have you been a foster parent and how many kiddos have you fostered?
We were licensed in February of 2013. Our first placement came in March 2013. A beautiful 10.5 week old baby boy who never left. His adoption was finalized October 2013. We had 5 other short term placements then our baby girl arrived in April 2014. She was all of 4 pounds 6 ounces of sweet sugar. After 363 days in foster care she is now our forever girl! A big move and a few more short term placements later we got an email about another two year old girl who needed a home short term while she waited for ICPC paperwork to be processed for a move out of state to a relative. Fast forward just five short months later, a change of plans and a whole lot of love… she is now our daughter. We adopted her in October 2016, exactly 3 years to the day of our first adoption. So three adoptions in three years AND three littles four and under. In 2017 we added to our family again when we opened our home to a young adult through extended foster care.
What made you want to become a foster mom?
I don’t really remember a time where foster care wasn’t a part of the plan. I vividly remember sitting in my first apartment researching foster parenting at barely 18. Thankfully my husband was on board and though we didn’t know when, we both agreed it was something we would do. 12 years later we were knee deep in wanting to start a family when foster care came back up. Within days, we were signed up for classes and filling out mountains of paperwork. I look back and I am amazed how perfectly that dream played out. I know those desires were put on my heart so long ago to bring me right to this moment.
What’s the biggest challenge you face as a mama of fosters?
Foster Care has taught me so much. I have been challenged in ways I never imagined. I have seen and heard things I don’t wish on anyone and witnessed real life miracles that have been life changing. But the one thing I still really struggle with is the lack of control I actually have. It’s a scary thing to hand over your heart and home to a system that needs a lot of work. Sometimes everything seems very out of control and when I want and need answers they are not always right there. I feel like I have come a long way in my need to control everything, but it’s something I’m working on daily. I’m grateful that this daily lessons come with an amazing gift of these kids to share it with.
What’s the most rewarding part of being a foster mama?
Foster care has changed my life. It’s brought me closer to my family, I have made incredible new friends, it made me a Mommy. I think what’s been most rewarding for me is being a witness to the beautiful things that do come from so much that is broken.
What’s your best piece of advice for new foster parents?
Connect! Connect! Connect! Foster Care in general is hard enough… Don’t do it alone. Find others who are walking the same path as you and reach out, grab their hands, and ride together. It’s very easy to feel very alone in this journey. You will find yourself in situations and facing things that a lot of people in your life just won’t understand. Don’t get me wrong, those relationships are important too, but someone who gets it without explanation at 3 am when a child arrives whose world just fell apart… Trust me… You don’t want to have to explain. You just need someone who says I get it, I’m sorry, how can I help?
On the rough days when you don’t feel like you have anything left… Remember that He doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.