Angela Drury had not seen her cousin in close to 20 years. But one day she discovered he had a child – a 3-year-old boy who was being placed in foster care.
“Oliver was suffering from neglect due to a lack of food, inadequate medical care and inadequate housing,” Angela said. “He could only say two words and had moderate hearing loss due to untreated ear infections. He had mostly been consuming chocolate milk, so this created gastrointestinal problems. He had allergies and asthma as well.”
Angela and her husband Joey were in the process of becoming FaithBridge foster parents when the situation with Oliver happened. They decided to take him as a relative placement while they finished becoming a foster family. Oliver arrived at their home in August of 2014.
“We had decided to become foster parents after our pastor at First Baptist Woodstock, Johnny Hunt, spoke about foster care one week at church and described the great need for displaced children to have loving homes,” Angela said.
The Drury’s first few months with Oliver were difficult. Because he could not communicate, he would often throw violent temper tantrums.
“We also struggled with getting him to eat ANY foods, and then eventually, healthy foods, since all he wanted was sugar,” Angela said.
The Drury’s, who have three biological children, kept working with Oliver and loving him. They put him in speech therapy and cared for him through two surgeries for ear tubes, which improved his hearing.
Then, in 2015, Oliver was reunified with his father for five months.
“He came back to us in December 2015 and we basically had to start over,” Angela said. “He suddenly couldn’t sleep through the night and was terrified of monsters. He was up every two hours asking to watch television or eat. We used a sticker chart and reward system to get him to go back to bed without waking up the entire house. It took about three weeks, and that was the most exhausting, sleep-deprived three weeks of my entire life.”
Throughout their entire foster care journey, the Drury’s FaithBridge foster care consultant Debbie Parsons has walked with them.
“She has acquired respite for us when we’ve needed it, and she’s always available with advice and other helps. Sometimes, she’s just been a listening ear,” Angela said. “FaithBridge has been awesome to provide us with such a knowledgeable and helpful consultant.”
As the months passed, Oliver kept improving. The Drury’s also enrolled him in occupational therapy to help with his fine and gross motor skills, as well as play therapy to help him express and process his feelings. They also discovered he was terrified of water, and signed him up for swim classes at their local YMCA. His time at the Y made such a difference that the Y filmed a video about Oliver.
“Oliver is a funny little guy, and he has brought a great deal of laughter to our home. He is very empathetic, and it is touching to see this quality in someone so young and with such a traumatic past,” Angela said. “He has also given us a great awareness to the struggles of small children who have been neglected. Our eyes have been opened, and the reality is heartbreaking.”
The Drury’s hadn’t intended to adopt but the Lord was working on their hearts.
“Throughout all this, our biggest blessing was watching God write such an amazing story as he molded a desire to foster into a desire to adopt. He truly knew our hearts and guided us every step of the way,” Angela said.
“I will never forget singing to Oliver one night and watching a spark ignite in his eyes. It was like understanding finally took root there. He made it known that he did not want to leave our home and that he loved it here. He often begged us to stay. Having to tell him that his future was out of our control and completely up to the judge was so difficult! Although we started in foster care to provide temporary homes for displaced children, God led us through Oliver and his deep love for us to see that His plan was adoption. How could we not love and adopt into our family such a sweet child that so desperately loved and needed us?”
On May 10, 2017, after spending 691 days in foster care, Oliver officially joined the Drury’s family.
“As a foster family, you have a front row seat to some of the greatest heartbreaks and also some of the greatest triumphs. Fostering not only helps children who desperately need love and a home, it also helps the foster family. It is a privilege that God entrusts us with both, and obedience to this calling will grow your faith bigger than anything else that we’ve experienced,” Angela said.
“Seeing Oliver’s struggles has also positively impacted our biological children. They are much more grateful for our family and all their blessings. As a result of this experience, my daughter is considering a career that involves working with traumatized children.”