Travis and Laurie Kimrey met at a wedding in 1987. He was 19, and she was 18. They were inseparable after their first date and were engaged a mere three months later. Travis needed to finish apprentice school at the Newport News Shipyard, so they waited three years and were married in 1990. From the beginning, they dreamed of a large family that included biological and adopted children. They built a large house on the same family land on which Laurie grew up. Twenty-eight years later, they are still in the same house, but now it is overflowing with little people and lots of love.
Travis and Laurie had five biological children: Katie, Travis Jr., Jessie, Bonnie, and Olivia. Life was filled with normal family chaos, horseback riding, and homeschooling. In the midst of raising their family, Travis Sr. contracted debilitating, undiagnosable migraines that left the doctors scratching their heads, and Travis unable to work. Nevertheless, even with the medical twist to their family dynamic, they began to consider adopting from foster care, despite being discouraged from adopting from foster care. They had been told, “You don’t want to adopt through foster care. These kids are broken.” But, they felt called and persisted. It took them three years to actually step out and begin to obtain their foster care certification. After that, they were finally able to complete the licensing process and were told they were only going to be approved for single placements. The family also thought they would be fostering boys. God had other plans.
Within a few months, they received their first placement. The little girl did not stay long and was successfully reunified with her parents, the ultimate goal of foster care. Shortly thereafter, Laurie’s social worker called with news that would change the lives and landscape of the Kimrey family forever. Twin 31-week, micro-preemie girls were 3 months old and needed a special placement. Baylee was perfectly healthy. Haylee, however, had severe special needs after having her brain bleed at birth, hydrocephalus, and cerebral palsy. Laurie’s heart broke at the thought of those girls having no visible family for three months. Travis and Laurie agreed to accept the placements. Laurie says that her heart grew after just a few seconds of holding them. The family made many trips to visit the girls in the hospital, and on November 9, 2013, they got Baylee, the first twin. Not long after, they were finally able to bring Haylee home. The family jumped in feet first providing love, support, and medical appointments. Their lives revolved around those teeny-tiny little girls. A few weeks into fostering the twins, Olivia, then 5, said, “Mom, put that foster baby down and hold your real kid.” Laurie said that the whole family just launched into their new reality, and the kids had adjusted so well, but this was Olivia’s way of saying “remember me.” Eventually, they found their new normal and were able to establish a semblance of a routine. Haylee and Baylee officially became Kimreys in December 2014.
Eleven months after delivering Haylee and Baylee, the birth mother gave birth to another set of twin girls, Joy and Jessa. They were also extremely premature and had gastrointestinal issues. The biological parents attempted to parent the little twins but were unable to do so. Laurie had great compassion for the girls’ birth mother and maintained an open relationship with her. Occasionally, Laurie would babysit Joy and Jessa, allowing the younger sisters to bond with their older sisters. One afternoon, Laurie was watching the little twins when their biological mom called and asked if Laurie and Travis would consider keeping the girls. Laurie and Travis were stunned, but they already adored Joy and Jessa, so the decision was easy to make. Joy and Jessa officially became Kimreys in June 2015. Laurie says that “Twins times two has been quite the wild ride, but they are darling precious children.”
Life is always interesting at the Kimrey house. In 2016, they adopted Nathaniel, a boy from Bulgaria who has hydrocephalus. But their hearts still had room for more, so they are currently in the process of trying to bring home two more Bulgarian children, Addison and Adelaide, both with special needs. God has given this family a special gift—a heart for children who need the love of a forever family. Throughout their journeys, both past and present, God has used their adoption stories to raise awareness for foster care, foster adoption, and international special needs adoption. More than one family has been inspired to adopt personally, and many others have been prompted to pray for and give towards the adoption projects of others. John F. Kennedy said, “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” The Kimrey family is making a difference and gives God all the glory for the work in their lives and for building their family in the way He has.
*You can follow the Kimrey story at here.