It was a normal night of laundry and television in the Drummons’ household when Justin and Michelle received a phone call that forever changed their lives. “We have a two year old in need of a foster family – and today’s his birthday,” the voice said on the other end of the line. After hearing his story, Michelle responded without hesitation. “We’ll take him!” she exclaimed. Within 45 minutes, their low-key night was interrupted by a knock on the door. Waiting on the other side was a little boy named Kiyo who would turn their world upside down.
Justin always had a passion for adoption, but Michelle felt differently. “A year after having our first biological child, God really began doing a work in my heart toward adoption and that was revealed to me through prayer,” she says. They looked into international adoption but were faced with challenges when their country of choice banned all adoptions to the United States.
In the midst of international adoption delays, the Drummons had friends who were serving as foster parents with STARRY. We could never foster, they thought. It would be too hard. But once again, through the process of prayer, God softened their hearts and began to show them that fostering might be hard – but it was worth the risk.
In the spring of 2013, Justin and Michelle began training to become certified foster parents with STARRY. They received their first placement six months later when Kiyo arrived at their home.
After his mother died, two-year-old Kiyo was cared for by his transient father, who struggled to provide for him. Members of a local church helped out by taking turns with Kiyo until, ultimately, he was placed in the foster care system. After a long day of office visits and unfamiliar faces, Kiyo arrived at the Drummons’ home … scared and confused.
Justin and Michelle knew that he had experienced a lot of trauma in his young life. Children like Kiyo who come from hard places need a lot of love and patience. Unable to explain what he was feeling, Kiyo initially expressed his emotion by acting out. Little things such as washing his hands or eating dinner quickly escalated into temper tantrums and outbursts. But after a few weeks of consistent love and affection, Justin and Michelle were able to disarm the fear that he held so deep inside. Kiyo finally began to feel safe as he adjusted to a life of stability and love.
“We didn’t realize just how tough it was going to be. We don’t know how we would have gotten through it if we didn’t believe how God ordains moments of suffering for our good,” Justin said, unaware that more suffering was on the horizon.
In May of 2014, the Drummons attended a routine court date for Kiyo. They knew that a case worker had tracked down biological relatives of Kiyo who may possibly be interested in adopting him. But they were surprised when the judge ruled that Kiyo would immediately begin spending weekends with these distant relatives. Over the course of a few months, weekend visitations became a permanent placement.
“On the day he was leaving us for good, we had him help pack up his stuff and we tried to prepare him for what was happening,” Michelle remembers. “When we dropped him off with his family, he clung to me as he screamed and cried. He just didn’t understand what was happening.”
The Drummons were heartbroken because they loved Kiyo like a son. Pictures of him remained in frames that hung around the house, but his room was empty. They knew he would always be part of their family in some way, but Justin wasn’t ready to give up. Every day he faithfully prayed, Lord, if there’s any way – somehow, some way – please bring him back.
Four months later, they received a call from STARRY letting them know that things hadn’t worked out with Kiyo’s biological family. “Would you take him back?” the STARRY staff member asked. With tears of excitement, Michelle once again said, “Yes! We’ll take him!”
At the next court date, Justin and Michelle anxiously waited to find out how long Kiyo would be with them this time. To their surprise, the judge announced that Kiyo’s relatives saw how much the Drummons loved him and had asked for their family to adopt him. Overwhelmed with joy and surprise, Justin struggled to find the words to express his happiness. “Your Honor, we would love to,” he said.
On National Adoption Day, November 25, 2014, Kiyo became a forever member of the Drummons’ family. His name was changed to Samuel as a reflection of how he was continually prayed for by a community of believers throughout his journey. Samuel fit right back into his life with the Drummons without skipping a beat. It was almost as if he never left.
For Justin and Michelle, STARRY helped paint a beautiful picture of the gospel through the fostering and adoption process. “We wanted to move toward Samuel and bring him into our family just like Jesus came to us and adopted us. STARRY has reminded us of the hope we are given in Christ so that we may give that same hope through fostering.”