Drumroll, Please: Introducing 3-Year-Old Darnell & His Forever Family

Most days you'll find 3-year-old Darnell with drumsticks in his hands.

He performs air drum solos at his daycare and keeps the beat in the car. The adorable tot’s fascination with the drums started at church, where his honorary godfather plays the instrument. Now, he plays every weekend.

However this Saturday, November 17, was an extra special weekend day for this little drummer boy. Darnell packed up his drumsticks and headed—hand in hand with his new forever family—to the DC courthouse to celebrate a monumental milestone: Adoption Day 2018.

How We Got Here

While the trip to the courthouse today may have been easy, it’s taken many difficult years to get to today’s celebration.

The Children’s Law Center (CLC) team met Darnell when he was just a few months old. His mom was struggling with substance abuse and unstable housing. She was unable to safely care for her son, so Darnell entered into the child welfare system.

His CLC team of attorneys, social workers and investigators was there to look out for his safety and well-being.

That’s when Darnell met foster parent Eleanora Settles. Though she was already caring for three of her grandsons, she agreed to welcome the infant into her home.

“Ms. Settles is the type of person you want as a foster mom and as an adoptive parent,” Darnell’s CLC attorney, Cara Morse, remembers. “She fights for what is best for her children. She seeks out programs to help her boys, focuses on their education and does everything possible to keep them safe and happy.”

As Darnell’s guardian ad litem lawyer, it was Morse’s job to protect Darnell’s best interest.

That meant exploring every option for Darnell, whether that was reunification with his birth mom or adoption. Her work included everything from home visits with Ms. Settles and Darnell to working to make sure Darnell received the right education and mental health services.

Morse knew that to reunify Darnell with his birth family, his mom would have to find safe housing, conquer her drug addiction and work toward a healthy relationship with Darnell.

Unfortunately, Darnell’s mom was unable to achieve these goals—and when reunification was no longer possible, Ms. Settles knew she wanted Darnell to be a permanent part of her family. 

Morse has been with Darnell since he was just a baby. Darnell’s safety and well-being was her priority—and she knew adoption was the right choice for him. Over the past few years she has watched him grow into an energetic little chatterbox who loves to sing and dance—and eat Ms. Settles’ famous home-cooked chicken.

Adoption Day 2018

That’s how Ms. Settles and all her boys, plus one set of drumsticks, arrived at Adoption Day 2018. The smiling family joined together on this momentous fall morning to celebrate being a family, together.

“I hope these boys know that I love them straight through,” Ms. Settles said. “It’s a busy job, caring for four kids. I’m a parent, a referee, a nurse, a cab driver. Every day is an adventure, and I know these boys are gifts from God.”

She talks about how she loves to see the boys together. While they squabble the way siblings do, they also look out for each other, help each other with homework and keep Ms. Settles on her toes!

For this family, their adventure includes unconditional love, one very loud household and of course—lots and lots of drumming.