Three months ago, Michael Ketterer sang a soulful, heart-wrenching version of the Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody” on “America’s Got Talent” and received the coveted golden buzzer.
Michael was immediately joined on the stage by his wife, Ivey, along with their daughter and five sons. There was something extra special about the moment of celebration, and anyone who watched can attest to that.
You see, Michael and Ivey adopted their five boys, one of whom has cerebral palsy, because they specifically were led to by the Lord. But their journey had a very unlikely beginning.
In the newest White Chair Film, a video series produced by the media group I Am Second, the Ketterers their unique story of love and adoption. It all started shortly into their marriage, when they learned that they were pregnant.
“Parenting wasn’t on our agenda when we got married,” Ivey recalled.
“I definitely didn’t feel like we were qualified to have a child, especially me…As a matter of fact, when we found out [my wife was] pregnant, we both cried,” Michael explained.
During the birth of their daughter Sophie, there were life-threatening complications that drove Michael and Ivey to make the decision to not have any more children. By the grace of God, their daughter survived the birth at 3 pounds 10 ounces, after which she required months of medical care.
Michael explains in the White Chair Film that at the age of 8, Sophie started to have incredible dreams.
“In her dreams, there were these three little boys who were her brothers, and the youngest was always in danger,” Michael recalled.
Her dreams continued for two years until Michael finally started to stop and really listen. This led the Ketterers to begin their adoption search. They quickly realized, however, that the $30,000 adoption fee was impossible for them to afford, and started to look at different options.
A family friend introduced the couple to the idea of adopting through foster care, an idea they hadn’t previously considered.
When they started to look into foster care, they were asked what they had to offer the children.
Ivey responded, “I have two things I can offer: time and love.”
Michael recalled that after they had become certified and gone through all of the foster care requirements, they received their first call: There were three boys that needed a home.
“We absolutely knew, because of our daughter’s dreams, that these were our sons, these were our children,” he shared.
When the Ketterers brought the boys home, they quickly realized that things were not as easy as just having “time and love” to give.
“No other foster home was able to care for them because they were just too wild,” Michael explained. “There was this moment after we brought the boys into our home, where one of the boys began, his eyes began to roll back into his head, and he was laughing this weird laugh.”
“My daughter looked up at my wife: ‘Mom I think that is a demon, I think one of these boys has a demon,'” he recalled.
Michael quickly reacted, laying on top of his son, saying, “You have no right to this child any longer, he is under my roof, and my name.”
“I just understood in that moment exactly what the Father had done for us. He covers us and covers us with His name, and it drives out all the darkness,” Michael said.
Michael himself came from a broken family. His father left the family when he was only 14, leaving him fatherless for his most formative years.
“Being without a father is like being out at sea without a compass. When you have a father that says, ‘I’ve been here before, here we are out at sea, you can’t see the horizon, but I know the direction, so let’s keep going this way,'” Ketterer said of his childhood.
Eventually, the Ketterers got another call from the foster care system. Without hesitation, they took another son into their home — a young boy with cerebral palsy.
This adoption was harder than the others. There were therapy appointments, doctor appointments and countless hospital visits.
Michael recalled hitting a breaking point where he felt like he didn’t have the strength to do it anymore. Yet once again, God revealed Himself to Michael in an amazing way.
“I got in the car [and said], ‘God if you really need me to keep this child, this really is my son, then I need a sign,'” he recalled.
“And I look up and they had just put up this big giant billboard, and on this billboard was this man who had pushed his son with cerebral palsy through marathons, and it said like ‘father been behind son through like fifty marathons,’ and it was this big giant billboard on the road, on my commute that I normally would take every day,” he said.
“I remember looking up at that, and [saying], ‘God you actually gave me a literally sign — a billboard,’” Michael said.
“I felt this peace come over me, and this new wind in my spirit. Like OK, he is my son, and I’m not alone in this. My Father who has been behind me, who has pushed me through so many struggles, He’s with me in this moment, and we can do this together,” he added.
Shortly after the adoption of their fourth son, Ivey had a dream that she had another son.
She said, “Lord, if that little boy is my son, then bring him to me.”
“And then we got another call about a beautiful little boy who had been living homeless on the streets,” Michael recalled.
Their family quickly went from seven to eight when they welcomed their fifth son into their home.
The message that Michael wants people to garner from his family’s story?
“Even if you’re completely disabled and broken, you’re still [God’s] son — I believe that’s really who our Father is,” he explained. “He’s not afraid to get down in the dirt with us — as a matter of fact, He sent His son to be just like us, to experience our same issues, and to see us healed and set free.”
No matter how broken you are, God still wants you. No matter how messy your life may be, God still wants to be a champion for you.
That’s the message of the Bible, and that’s the message of the Ketterer family.
After his Tuesday performance on “America’s Got Talent” earned a standing ovation and brought judge Simon Cowell to tears, Michael Ketterer received the joyful news that he will be competing in the semifinals, which will take place on September 4 and 11.
Watch the performance below: