A woman who home-birthed six biological children and adopted two has embraced life as a busy stay-at-home mom, homeschooling her tight-knit brood on the family’s small farm in upstate South Carolina. She says seeing each one of her children grow and learn is “truly a miracle to watch.”
Kelli, 39, and her husband, Trey Ingram, 38, are parents to seven daughters and one son: Lael, 12; Ruthie, 10; Salem, 9; Faith, 7; Eden, 5; Shepherd, 4; Ever, 2; and Olive, 9 months.
Faith and Eden were adopted into the family as babies after being fostered by the Ingrams, and the eight siblings have a really strong bond.
For Kelli, the motivation for homeschooling all of her kids was that she wanted to connect with them and didn’t feel like she’d be able to if they had gone away all day.
“I love being in charge of what they’re learning, I love being able to talk with them about God and our faith, and weaving that into everything we do,” Kelli told The Epoch Times. “I want to set them up well while they’re young with a firm foundation, so that one day, when they’re much more mature, they’ll be able to navigate the world wisely.”
Kelli’s three younger kids attend preschool in the mornings, while she minds baby Olive and oversees school work for her oldest four. All children finish school before lunch.
The kids, according to Kelli, haven’t really had to adapt to a schedule because none of them have been to a traditional school.
The Ingrams are part of a homeschool cooperative that meets once a week. “It’s such a blessing for me to have a day off from teaching, and it provides help in a few of our subjects,” said Kelli.
The mom of eight shared that keeping a clean, tidy house, and stocking the fridge and pantry, are two of her greatest challenges. However, she uses grocery delivery services to ease the burden of shopping, and cooks supper at home almost every night.
The children have their roles, too.
“We have a little farm on our property, and all of the kids help with feeding animals and the garden,” Kelli explained. “We don’t really have set chores in the house, but we expect all of our kids to pitch in and help with dishes and general tidying up after themselves.”
Kelli hires cleaners, who visit twice a month to do a deep clean of the house. She also has an aide for handling the family’s massive laundry demand every week. Meanwhile, a babysitter comes in when she needs to run errands; this support, she said, helps beyond measure in her bustling family home.
“There are constantly needs that must be met, but even in the difficult moments, I feel very fulfilled in my job as a mother,” Kelli said.
Kelli revealed that her favorite thing about being a mom of eight is “seeing love multiplied.”
“I absolutely love seeing how my older kids love and care for the younger ones, and the relationships between them blossom,” she reflected.
Having been a mother for over 12 years, her parenting perspective has also evolved. This, she says, is one of the huge perks of continuing to have children.
“You learn through your mistakes and successes, and you parent better!” she explained. “I hope that my story highlights that children are blessings, not burdens.”
Kelli and Trey’s interest in helping children in need was born on a shared study trip to Romania the summer before their senior year of college. Serving with a ministry that visited government hospitals, they studied the effects of abandonment on babies and children, and learned about foster care and adoption.
Their jobs were to hold, rock, and make eye contact with abandoned babies, and the hands-on experience broke Kelli’s heart.
“It was hands-down the most horrific thing I’ve ever seen or experienced,” she recalled. “[But] along with impacting us to get involved in foster care and adoption, Trey and I fell in love during that trip, and were engaged to be married a month later!”
After welcoming their first three children, Kelli and Trey began volunteering with Safe Families foster agency in 2014.
Their daughter, Faith, came to them as a newborn for short-term foster care while her birth mother made arrangements to care for her. Yet, unable to manage, the mother asked the Ingrams to adopt her baby.
“We were thrilled to have a fourth daughter,” said Kelli.
Meanwhile, Eden—who also came to the family as a newborn—came later through South Carolina state’s foster care system, but it soon became clear to the Ingrams that she was destined to be part of the family.
(Courtesy of Kelli Ingram)
Trey, who is a real estate attorney, has chosen to steer his career toward helping families make adoptions legal.
“He mainly does real estate, but loves using his gifts, talents, and knowledge about adoption law to help finalize adoptions in court,” said Kelli. “He has even written and changed laws in our state to help children in foster care.”
For Kelli, faith is at the forefront of her relationship to family, and this is how she and Trey are raising their kids.
“We are raising them all in a Christian home environment where we teach them the love and grace of Jesus, and our hope and prayer is that they will grow up to do His will for their lives,” she explained. “We want them to love others, serve others, and show the love of God in all that they do.”
(Courtesy of Kelli Ingram)
Kelli, who chronicles daily family life on Instagram, believes motherhood has been “the most sanctifying thing” she has ever experienced, and relies on God more than anything else in her life.
“I need Him to sustain me, give me energy, give me patience, and give me grace when I mess up,” she reflected, adding, “He has been very merciful to me in giving me more children than I could’ve ever imagined!”