BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. — A local mother of 10 hopes her story will inspire others to consider fostering children.
Kari Hoagland started her family when she was just 20 years old.
She was volunteering at a St. Joseph hospital, working with babies when a nurse asked if she'd ever consider fostering.
"I said, 'No, I'm single and I'm 20,' and she said, 'Please promise me that you'll leave tonight and think about it,'" Hoagland said.
It only took her one night to think it over before she realized it was what she was meant to do.
"I had my first placement two months after that and never looked back," Hoagland said.
Fast forward to today, Kari and her husband, Curtis, are the parents of 10 kids, five of whom are adopted.
Just a few weeks ago, the family suffered an unexpected, tragic loss when their son, Isaiah, passed away in his sleep from complications with cerebral palsy.
"He was such a great, great soul, (who) brought our family together in a really great way," Hoagland said.
She said everyone in her family is struggling with the loss, but they know they have each other to lean on.
When it comes to supporting each other, the Hoagland family knows a thing or two about that.
Several years ago, Kari was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. She said the love and support from her family, friends and the community was what helped her get through it.
Hoagland spent a few months in remission, but learned during a followup visit that the cancer was back and was even more aggressive. She couldn't help but wonder why.
"I've never been a smoker, took care of myself, like why did this happen?" Hoagland said.
She learned that cancer ran in her family. Her great-grandmother actually died from breast cancer.
The second time around, Kari tripled her chemotherapy. She rang the cancer-free bell inJune.
"Actually being able to do that was just so victorious and so empowering and feeling like I could beat anything at that point in time," Hoagland said.
She wants to remind anyone going through the same thing to lean on those to whom they are closest.
For Kari, that's her family. She wants other families to feel the same love and support that fostering children brings.
"The gratitude at the end of the day, when you know you're doing something good for a kid that might not otherwise have that, there's just no way to even put that into words," Hoagland said. "The love and the loyalty and the unconditional affection that you will get is so worth it."