June 26 2008
INDIANAPOLIS - Some may think that Noah Alan Yohannes Himes is lucky. His parents think they are.
"So many people say Noah's so fortunate and so lucky to be adopted and to have us as parents, but we always think we're the lucky ones," said Scott Himes, Noah's father and a pastor at Life Church in Indianapolis.
"We're the ones that have the biggest blessing," his mother Courtney (LaPlante) Himes, a 2003 Indiana State University graduate and a cosmetologist at Secrets Nail and Hair Design in Carmel, added as the 18-month-old squealed with delight.
A police officer found the then-estimated-5-day-old baby abandoned in an Ethiopian field and took him to a hospital. From there, he was moved into an orphanage until May 28, 2007, when the then-6-month-old baby and his parents' lives changed and they became a family.
Before Courtney and Scott married, they knew that they both wanted to adopt, even if they had children naturally.
"After a year of being married, we were really wanting to have a family and it wasn't happening naturally," Courtney said. "When it didn't happen, we decided to go down the road of adoption."
Both had traveled with churches on mission trips and have a love other cultures, countries and people. Four months after they married, they traveled to Uganda on such a trip, which included a visit to an orphanage.
"I think seeing all of the children really put the burden on our hearts and that's when we got excited for Africa," Courtney said. "When we were looking into international adoption, we researched different countries, and different countries have different requirements, age requirements. We were looking at the pros and cons of different countries and Ethiopia was really the only country in Africa that is widely available for adoption."
In October 2006, the couple began the adoption process, which they chronicled on a Web site www.scotthimes.com . In March 2007, they received the telephone call that would change their lives.
"I was on my way back to the house when I got a phone call from our case worker that was working with us and she said she had some good news for us," Scott said. "I knew what it was so I told her I'd call her back in a few minutes when I got home because I knew my wife would be there."
For Courtney, the tears started to flow as she heard about the boy who would be their son.
"From when we started the process until waiting for the referral, that really wasn't that hard," Courtney said. "As soon as you see the pictures, you know 'Ok, this is our son.' I took the pictures to work. I took them with me everywhere. It was almost like I wanted him to be with me all of the time."
Waiting for the next two months until the adoption cleared the Ethiopian legal system and they could travel to Addis Ababa to meet their son was the hardest part of the adoption process, the couple said.
"It was hard because before you're actually thinking and just kind of praying for a child that you really don't have a face for, and then you actually see him and you realize that's your child and he needs his parents," Scott said.
The day after arriving in the African country's capital city, orphanage workers led the couple into a room of eight babies - two to a crib - and asked them to pick out their son.
"You would think after staring at his face everyday for two months it would be easy," Courtney said. "However, Noah was dressed in a white onesie, with pink heart tights and a pink sweater. We first guessed the little guy next to him in the crib because they looked fairly similar, wrong. But they told us we were close, so then we picked him. Noah did this little wiggle thing, like saying, 'hey, pick me up.' I picked him up and he just looked at us with those big brown eyes and then I started crying, of course."
"It was something we thought about a lot before, what that first meeting was going to be like," Scott said. "That was something we actually prayed about a lot, that when he saw us, he would recognize his parents and not just some other adults, that there would be a connection and it was really neat."
"He never cried when we first picked him up or even when we took him from the orphanage," Courtney said. "It was kind of like he was just at peace, like 'These are my parents and they're taking care of me now.' We never really had any issues with bonding."
After traveling for 26 hours to return to Indianapolis, they were met by family and friends holding signs and cheering.
Now, more than one year after adopting Noah, the Himes are considering adopting again - either internationally or locally.
"I think some of the concerns about adoption parents have are: am I going to be able to love this child, will they really feel like my own, will it somehow not fully feel like your own child. That hasn't been an issue at all," Scott said.
"We had such a positive experience and I think Noah's just been the biggest blessing to us and to our families," Courtney said. "The past year has just been amazing."
It also has been one of more than just watching their son grow.
"Having Noah has made me realize how much I could love," Courtney said. "I love him more and more each day and he definitely has taught me to be more patient and understanding. I have no doubt in my mind that God made him for our family."
Writer: Jennifer Sicking, Indiana State University, assistant director of media relations, at 812-237-7972 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Cutline: Courtney, Noah and Scott Himes. ISU Photo/Kara Berchem
Cutline: Noah Himes plays on the floor of his parents home in Indianapolis. ISU Photo/Kara Berchem
Cutline: Noah Himes and his mother Courtney play in the backyard of their Indianapolis home. ISU Photo/Kara Berchem