Many of our readers and contributors have had Kelli on their radar for months now. Luckily for us, we spoke with her and she’s now our newest contributor. Get ready, folks. Her articles will tug at your heartstrings, life experiences and all around “This is Life” moments. We are so lucky to have her. Enjoy learning a bit more about her and stay tuned for her very first piece next week! Welcome, Kelli. And thank you for the amazing person you are.
The CLUTCH: So, what’s up?
Kelli Ingram: My name is Kelli Ingram and I’m the newest contributor to The Clutch! I am a wife and mother (natural, adoptive and foster). I live in Greenville and I LOVE this great city. I couldn’t be happier about where our family landed in life. Right now we are in the Augusta Road area but we’re building our forever house in Piedmont, Moonville to be specific, and we hope to be living out on 15 acres of wide open spaces by Christmas!
TC: Can you tell us a little about how you got where you are today?
KI: My husband, Trey, and I met on a study abroad trip to Romania during the summer before our senior year of college at Charleston Southern University. We studied the physical and psychological effects of abandonment and institutionalization on orphans of all ages and had the privilege of holding and rocking infants who were left in cribs all day every day. We visited older orphans in children’s homes and also met foster children and their foster parents. It was by far the most tragic and heart-wrenching thing I have ever seen in my life. I may never in my lifetime experience anything like it. My sorrow for those children changed me. They changed my husband too. If you had asked us then, separately, about adoption/foster care, we would have both told you that it was something that we wanted to be involved in; but after the trip, we both knew this was our calling. We fell in love with each other over those ten days and dubbed it the “Romance in Romania”. A month later we became engaged and eight months later we were married just one week after college graduation. We took the leap and never looked back. Best decision I ever made.
TC: Please tell us about your family!
KI: We have now been married for 12 years, have three daughters born naturally to us, one daughter through adoption and currently one foster daughter. Lael is 7, Ruthie is 6, Salem is 4, Faith is 2 (almost 3) and our foster daughter is 6 months old. AND we’re expecting a new baby, due at the end of October! We decided not to find out what the gender is until the birth!
I stay home with them and I’m currently homeschooling my two oldest. I truly love what I do.
TC: Okay so that’s a lot of children! What does life look like for you?
KI: We know that our family is unconventional, looks different and has many complex dynamics. However, we genuinely enjoy parenting five children and have learned over the short number of years of parenthood how to make it work for us. Trey is my best friend; and when he walks in the door after work, he is the breath of fresh air that we ALL need at the end of the day! I couldn’t do what I do every day without his constant encouragement and his hands-on approach. When he’s home, he is “all in”. We do not possess any special parenting abilities or super natural energy. We experience the typical frustrations, like dealing with children who cry or who don’t always obey; and we feel the general annoyances of life, have days when we need a better attitude and suffer from common physical and emotional fatigue. It’s life. And “life” is multiplied the more lives you add! At the end of the day when Trey and I crash on the couch after each little head is on a pillow we are thankful to have been given the privilege of raising these little people.
TC: So, we know that adoption and foster care are very important to you and your husband. How did you begin your involvement?
KI: Once we knew our calling, Trey started researching ways in which he could make a career out of involvement in adoption and orphan care. He researched many adoption agencies and discovered what a huge part the law has in child advocacy, foster care and adoption. So I said, “Well, just sign up for the next LSAT exam!” The rest is history! He now practices law as a partner at Smith Moore Leatherwood and focuses his practice on commercial real estate and adoption, both of which give him great joy! He is also very involved with legislation to help children in our state’s foster care system. I share his passion for this cause and want to see great change for the most vulnerable citizens of South Carolina and I believe that we will.
After we had our third daughter, we decided to become a “Safe Family” through Bethany Christian Services. We received our first call in July 2014 for a newborn baby girl who needed a temporary home while her mother made arrangements to care for her. Ultimately, her mother asked us to adopt that baby girl into our family forever; and so Faith became our fourth daughter! Not too much longer after that, we decided to become a licensed foster family through SCDSS and have had several foster placements within the past two years. It has not always been easy but it has always been worth it!
TC: What do you hope to add to the conversation writing for The Clutch?
KI: I was so honored to be asked to be a contributor for The Clutch and I really hope I can be an encouragement to other parents and specifically mothers. I’d love to bring more awareness to adoption and also to children in foster care. I’m excited about sharing more of my life and experiences with the readers and I will do my best to be as open and honest about my life as a wife and mother, two of my greatest joys in life.
Again, guys, she’s a keeper. Just like all of our contributors. Enjoy getting to know her and seeing where her voice takes her (and all of us, too)!