'It just feels like God is showing all the blessings in you. Everybody in the whole world is giving you their best love that they have ever given.'
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on June 15, 2022
A video of an adopted teen celebrating his first birthday in America is tugging at people's heartstrings. Abraham Walker was overwhelmed by an onslaught of emotions when his mom Jamie Walker walked out with an extra special cake for his birthday on May 19. In a heartwarming video that's been viewed more than 3.9 million times since Walker shared it on Facebook, the sixth grader is seen breaking down in sobs on seeing the cake as it was the very first birthday cake he'd had in his life. "It feels like a joyful [sic] in your life," Abraham told WCNC. "Because that was my first birthday cake since I was born with my name."
According to the publication, the Walker family adopted Abraham and his older brother James at the end of October 2021. Their paths first crossed when the boys' father, Joe Walker, took a trip to Sierra Leone with a friend who started an orphanage there. "It was their 10-year anniversary. And I wanted to go play with the kids. I wanted to see what was all about," Joe revealed. During his time there, the now-father-of-six spent his time playing soccer and reading books with the local kids. That's where he first met James.
"James and I formed a really close bond," Joe shared. The Walker family soon began sponsoring James and was able to connect with him over Skype every month. "So we were able to maintain a relationship," said Joe. Unfortunately, tragedy struck six months later when James was forced out of the orphanage. "But I got him a phone because I wanted to stay in touch," explained Joe, who was also able to meet James' little brother Abraham when the teen went back to his village. For 30 days, the Walkers FaceTimed the brothers every day. "We knew that if they didn't get back to the orphanage they were going to be put back on the streets," Joe said, "and so we put a team together."
With the help of their team, Joe was able to get the brothers reunited and sent back to the Raining Season Orphanage. He also immediately hopped on a plane to Sierra Leone to visit James and Abraham. "And by then we had formed this really special connected bond," he said. "And I came home from that trip and said to my wife, 'I just feel like there's more being asked of us.'" The Walkers then sat down with their four kids and discussed the possibility of adopting James and Abraham. Following an immediate and unanimous yes from their children, the pair asked the brothers if they would be interested in joining their family.
"And we told them that they weren't allowed to answer us that day," Joe revealed. "We asked him to think of all of the positive things and then to think of the things that would be really challenging and hard... They were really excited and they wanted to be a part of the family and know what a family was." Although the COVID-19 pandemic put the Walkers' travel plans on hold amid the adoption process, Joe Walker said he was on a plane to see his boys the second restrictions were lifted. "I got back over there and was visiting with them and that's when we got the notice from USCIS that it was time to actually go back and pick them up," he shared.
When asked what he loves most about America, Abraham said 'everything.' "It's really, really fun," the teen said. "And getting used to the weather, the food and some of this stuff. It's kind of a new experience for me. And it's also nice." Meanwhile, the Walkers are enjoying witnessing the two brothers experience their "firsts" in America. "It's absolutely magical and amazing because you think about the first time you take a toddler through, and they're like in awe. And some kids hate it. It's the same, only they're old enough to verbalize how crazy this experience is," Walker told WJZY.
Abraham's birthday was one such first. "We never knew about something called a birthday," the teen said. "It just feels like God is showing all the blessings in you. Everybody in the whole world is giving you their best love that they have ever given. That is what it feels like to have that cake." Abraham shared that the unforgettable moment brought him back to his days on the street in Sierra Leone, praying for a family and not knowing that his prayers would be answered in ways he had never imagined. "I love them more than they can ever imagine in the world. They're the ones that showed me to the world, and showed me what happiness is, and showed me what love is, and showed me what it means to have a family around you. I really, really want to say thank you to them for that," he said.
#WATCH: (TODAY) - Sixth grader Abraham Walker never had a birthday party of his own, until his new family surprised him on his special day. Walker and his brother Joe were adopted from Sierra Leone by a family from North Carolina. https://t.co/9xKv5HNq5L— Louie Tran (@louie_tran) June 12, 2022
Meanwhile, the Walkers revealed that since not a lot of care is put into record-keeping in Sierra Leone, they believe the boys' birth certificates are not accurate. "They don't take paperwork very seriously in the country where they come from, so their birth certificates have them as what we think is a little older than what they actually are," said Walker.