It has been quite awhile since we have written a blog post. One of the biggest reasons for our recent silence has been the addition of a baby boy to our family. Leon is an orphan. His mother died at his birth, and no-one in his family knows who his father is, so he was taken by his relatives to an orphanage here in Niamey. We met him there when he was only a couple months old, and began the process of adopting him.
We are still in the process of adopting him (and will be for the foreseeable future), but in the meantime, the orphanage has given us permission to bring him home as foster parents. This was quite unexpected, but it has been great getting to know him better, learning how to be parents, and giving him as many kisses as possible.
Leon has only been with us for about a month, but we love him so much already. Of course, it isn’t hard to love a face like this:
We also decided to give him a new name. Names are important, and we wanted to give him a new name that would represent his new identity as our son. His full name is Leon Jonathan Korn.
Leon is named after Leon Trotsky, Leon Blum, and most importantly, his great-great-grandfather, Leon Hirsch Karp, who died in Auschwitz in 1945. It is a name that carries a lot of our family history. A history of pain and suffering, but also of hope and of overcoming.
His Hebrew name is Lev, which means “heart,” and that is apt. This kid has a lot of heart. In his short life, he has already been through so much. He has suffered loss and been witness to death. He has been separated from everything familiar to him, and placed and the mercy of strangers. But through it all, he has overcome. He has fought for his life, and he has had a positive attitude. Even though he is so young (5 months old), his personality shines through, especially in his smile, which he is quick to flash to anyone who looks his way. He has already learned that life is struggle, but he has also learned a great secret – it is a struggle that is won through determination and heart, through tears yes, but also through laughter.
Jonathan was the middle name Leon was given at the orphanage, and we decided to keep it. First of all, it is a name we both like, and we wanted to keep at least one of the names he had been given in his first home. But also, we like the meaning of Jonathan, which is “God given.” This is certainly true. Leon is a gift from God, a true blessing. An unexpected, transformative blessing that has changed our lives forever. We can only hope that we will be as much of a blessing for him as he has been for us.
Finally, his last name is Korn. We are sorry about that one Leon, but you are stuck with it. You can’t win them all I guess. But at least you are not alone. From now on you never will be.