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Boy adopted from Sierra Leone experiences his first birthday celebration

CBS News logo CBS News 7/1/2022 Steve Hartman
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Charlotte, North Carolina — What may look like a house to you is something much more magnificent to the boys inside. When Abraham saw the house for the first time, he said he and his older brother James thought it was "a second heaven." 

"You pass through this before you go to the big heaven. That is what I believe so," Abraham told CBS News. 

And he means that literally. Abraham and James are from Sierra Leone. They were homeless before finding their way to an orphanage and eventually to their new home near Charlotte, North Carolina, after they were adopted by Joe and Jamie Walker last fall. 

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The Walkers say the boys have been wide-eyed in wonder ever since. 

"Every little thing that we take for granted — coming home from the airport, I hit the button to open up the front gate — 'Dad!'" Joe Walker told CBS News. 

"Everything is magic to them," Jamie Walker added. 

Whether it's a present from Santa Claus showing up on Christmas morning or something mundane like a car wash, the kids are constantly blown away. 

But the biggest surprise and the most profound reaction happened last month on what the family is celebrating as Abraham's 12th birthday. Record keeping isn't great in Sierra Leone, so they're not sure exactly how old the boys are. When asked how he celebrated his birthdays before his adoption, Abraham said, "that would be a crazy question." 

"I never celebrate them. I never knew it was my birthday," he said. 

So when the song started and his mom appeared with a birthday cake, Abraham was overwhelmed.

"When I see the cake, I thought that is the most beautifulest thing I've ever seen," he said. "It's not just a birthday cake. It's a blessing cake." 

And what a blessing it is, that once a year friends and family gather just to honor our existence. Most of us take that for granted, but not in this house, not anymore.

It's a good reminder that "we need to stop and be super grateful for what we do have," Joe Walker said. 

To contact On the Road, or to send us a story idea, email us: OnTheRoad@cbsnews.com.   

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