Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Josiah – Our Little King

JTS1 When we received our referral, Josiah was noted as being the caretaker of his siblings. Having spent just under three years with his biological parents, the next four years of his young life required a forced maturity, so to speak.

Children in orphanages often resort to survival techniques to simply make it through the daily grind. For Josiah, he took that upon himself for his younger two siblings as well. While still very much a young child, to Katerina and Benjamin he became a parental figure, someone to look up to, a leader, and in many respects – someone to be revered.

In July 2015 – we made our first trip to Bulgaria to meet the three little ones for whom we had already committed to love and make our own. I’ll never forget the first glimpses of Josiah. He appeared in the play room, his arms around the shoulders of his siblings – in a protective manner. He had a “pleasant” look on his face, but I wouldn’t call it a smile, as he was a bit hesitant. While Katerina and Benjamin were much quicker to express delight in these people who would soon become their mommy and daddy, Josiah was old enough to know disappoint could still come.

Would these people follow through on their promise?

Would they really take us home to become part of their family?

Will they be like others we’ve seen come through these orphanage doors…”play nice” only to never return again?

He eventually opened up more during our first visit to meet him and his siblings, but it really took each of the visits that week to gain more confidence from our little king. It wasn’t until we arrived for our “pick up trip” in November that we saw a different version of Josiah. When all three of our children saw us walk through the door of their orphanage on November 12…they screamed with delight, and very soon sounds of “Mama…Tatko (Daddy)” filled the room. They came running up to us with arms open wide, ready for hugs. They covered our faces with kisses. And…right in the midst of the excitement was our little Josiah…as happy as you could imagine.

I need to take a moment here to explain briefly that Josiah was named, in part, after King Josiah of Judah in the Old Testament. He was one of the youngest kings on record, and took over the throne at the age of eight. Such responsibility for such a little guy, and yet he grew to be a very loved and godly king.

In much the same way, our Josiah held great responsibility at a very young age, not by choice…rather by default (similar to King Josiah). However, we are honored to now lift some of that off of his shoulders and allow him to be the little boy trapped inside the body of a young man. We long to see him develop peer relationships / friendships, to be able to love his siblings as an older brother and not as a parental figure and to not feel such responsibility for when his brother and sister make mistakes. It’s time for Josiah to finally live life as a child.

Some fun facts about Josiah:

  • He’ll try any food you put in front of him, and (for the most part) he’s not a very picky eater.
  • He was responsible for many kitchen prep items while in Bulgaria. His favorite? Cutting tomatoes.
  • He has a very loud laugh…more like a cackle.
  • He loves to tease and tries to pull fast ones over on you but is quick to reveal his secret…a great sense of humor.
  • He loves to wear “fancy” clothes (button-up shirts, khakis, etc.). They make him feel special.
  • He’s the only one of the three that likes watching TV or movies.
  • His favorite color is red.
  • He loves math and is really good at it.
  • He’s the mediator between his two younger siblings. We often catch him making them shake hands and apologize after an argument.
  • He speaks English now about 99% of the time…even with his siblings. He’s quick to correct his sister (“English please”), especially, when she reverts back to her native Bulgarian.
  • He loves to lead the mealtime prayer and makes sure we’re all holding hands and have our eyes closed.
  • He loves to help us with anything we might possibly need and thrives on praise (as they all do).
  • He adores his little foster brother, and the feeling is mutual. They became buddies from the beginning.
  • He has a very soft heart and while he rarely cries, when he does, it breaks us.

We can’t wait to see the life unfold God has called Josiah to, and we’re entrusting our little king completely to Him.



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  1. Love to follow your story and read about the children. What a special family you are.It’s funny how Facebook has changed the way we “know” people. What once would have been a name and a photo at best, suddenly becomes familiar friends even though we’ve never met face to face. Thanks for sharing!!!

    • Leah Stirewalt says:

      Thank you Shari! Yes – it’s a whole new world with social media friendships! It’s sometimes hard to imagine life pre-Facebook isn’t it?

  2. Leah Stirewalt,, I cried when I first started reading your post about you little King! He is so adorable & loving. I’m sure he really loves being relevied of some of his duties he was doing for his siblings. They are all in a better place now that they are with you & your Husband. I am sure God is watching over all of you with a smile on his face, & saying job well done. Praying you always have God in your lives & Peace in your Hearts.

    Janet L. Hanshaw

    • Leah Stirewalt says:

      Thank you Janet! God is definitely keeping us covered with His love, protection, and guidance. We would be failing miserable without Him!


  1. […] environments any length of time typically have physical habits indicative of that. For Josiah and Katerina, surprisingly, they got over these types of habits rather quickly. For Benjamin, it […]

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