For Kimberly and Mel and their four children, fostering is personal. They adopted their three oldest children (twins Alexander and Angelina, now age 18, and their older sister Carley, now 20) from an international orphanage when the kids were very young. “They were malnourished, not well loved, and not used to being held. They had physical, occupational and speech delays, and they did not receive much brain stimulation – all of those things are so important for young children,” Kimberly explains. “My adopted kids are wonderful now, but it was a long, hard road for them and for me.”
Fast forward more than a decade and their family, which also includes their 13-year-old biological daughter Kaitlin, decided to become a foster family. “I am determined to give these foster children all that my children didn’t get. I hold them, kiss them, sing to them, tickle them, talk to them, feed them well, care for their medical needs immediately, take them to concerts and movies and experiences that will help to stimulate their brains,” Kimberly says. “We are all committed to it together as a family.”
Mel is a Financial Planner, and Kimberly works for him as his Financial Planner Assistant, both working from home. They have been licensed directly through SC DSS since 2016, and have welcomed 32 children into their home. They primarily care for newborn babies, Kimberly’s passion, because of all the love and nurturing her children missed out on in the orphanage. “I love these babies in foster care with the love that I wish someone had given my children when they were babies,” she says. “I love watching our foster kids grow and become comfortable. I love seeing them learn to laugh and to trust.”
The family enjoys going on walks, hiking, listening to music, watching movies, going to church, going to the pool and the beach, and mostly, laughing together. They are indeed a silly family and find every opportunity to laugh, even through tough times.
Like most new foster parents, Kimberly worried about getting too attached. But when one child leaves, the phone always rings with another child who needs her family’s love and care. “How can I turn that down?” she asks. “Their needs have to be a priority over my tears. I can’t let fear and sadness keep me from making a difference in the lives of those who need someone to love them.”