“I didn’t know twin sisters could foster together!” We hear this statement often as we tell our story and, honestly, when we began to pursue foster care, we didn’t know if we would be allowed to foster together, either!
I’m Kelli Hoeckner and my sister Kimmee and I are identical twin sisters and we’ve been fostering together for almost one year! Oh, and did I mention we’re 25 years old?
“What if we pursued doing foster care together?!” To many people, these words may have seemed absolutely crazy, as we FaceTimed with 7,000 miles between us, but to us they made perfect sense. Without hesitation, I was all in to Kimmee’s crazy idea.
At the time, I was living in Thailand, serving and living alongside at-risk children. Throughout my year of loving these children, my mamas heart and desire to love bravely grew. When Kimmie invited me to pursue foster care with her, I felt like my experiences in Thailand were preparing me for this next adventure.
Having had some exposure to foster care growing up, Kimmee often thought that when she got older and had a family she would pursue foster care. Fast forward a few years, Kimmee is in her dream job as a pediatric nurse. One day, twin baby boys came in for severe neglect and after spending a few nights in the hospital with no family present, they captured Kimmie’s heart. When she returned to work after a few days off, she was told that the boys had gone home. “We’re [DHS] going to give mom one more shot at this.” Her heart broke for these sweet baby boys and the neglect that they had already experienced and she greatly feared that they would continue to experience. Kimmee found herself frustrated and a fire was lit in her heart! She thought, “why not pursue foster care now?” Although the idea sounded crazy as a single 25-year-old woman, who worked 12 hour night shifts, it took root in her heart. As she processed how she could make this happen, she realized partnering with me could be the solution… and I was on board!
We both weren’t sure doing foster care as twin sisters was even possible, but we both felt that we needed to pursue it until the door opened or closed.
The “no” or insurmountable wall we feared never came, and, in April 2017, we received our foster license together. Two days later, we got the call that we would be caring for a one-month-old baby boy, we lovingly refer to as “Little Bear”. Fast forward nine months and we received a call asking us to take an emergency placement, a little girl exactly one day older than our Little Bear. With the addition of our Little Sunshine, we became twins raising virtual twins. We raised this dynamic duo for almost two months, learning the ups and downs of raising two almost one-year-olds. Apparently our foster care story, just like our life, is a twin thing! Our Little Sunshine was reunified with family just before her and Little Bear’s first birthdays. Within a week, newborn baby boy, Little Dino, was placed with us.
We have found brokenness in the system and we have faced many struggles, but we have also found an amazing and devoted community of individuals who love and serve bravely. We have seen beauty and redemption. We thought that the brokenness of foster care and of our little one’s stories would possibly break us, and it has, but in the best way possible. It has broken us so that we can love more wholly and deeply.
It’s a broken system, working with broken people but these kids are worth wading through all of that. You don’t have to fit into the perfect box to do foster care. We are sisters. We are young. We are single. We could have used these as excuses, but we decided to allow our hearts to be broken for these children and to put ourselves right in the midst of the brokenness. And we are so grateful that we did.
We need YOU to ask the hard questions of, “Why not me? Why not now?” We need YOU to be a part of this tribe that is choosing to embrace the messiness, and do the hard and redemptive work of loving children and families when they are at their most vulnerable. It can be scary and there are so many unknowns but you never know until you start walking in that direction.