Little Jacob had spent his entire childhood in foster care and felt incredibly lonely on his birthday due to his new foster family’s lack of love. But everything changes when he’s crying alone on his house stairs, and an unfamiliar voice says, “Happy birthday, son,” startling him.
It was harder to imagine a life lonelier and more dismal than Jacob’s. The little boy had spent his entire life shuffled between different foster homes but had never found the place where he truly belonged.
Why? Because the instant a sliver of affection or love developed in his heart for his foster caretakers, he was sent to a different family and had to restart his life. Even as adults, our hearts tremble at the prospect of leaving our regular lives behind and starting over.
But little Jacob had been doing it for as long as he could remember. At 6, he was as capable as any teenager, making his toast for breakfast, folding his clothing and making his bed, and arranging his toys properly once he was done playing with them.
Jacob’s life had never been easy. In a way, fate forced the boy to become self-sufficient, and he had come to realize that his dream of having a loving family would most likely never come true…
Jacob’s new foster home was no exception. He was the youngest in the family, much younger than the other kids. The older boys didn’t like Jacob and didn’t include him in anything, which made Jacob very sad and upset.
The only thing that made Jacob happy was watching them celebrate their birthdays! Hudson, Caleb, and Roman—the three other children in his foster home—had each celebrated their birthdays. Guests had come over and given them gifts, and they’d had a good time.
This was different from the other foster homes Jacob had been in. He’d never seen anyone celebrate birthdays or anything else back there, but Jacob’s new home gave him hope that his birthday would be celebrated as well and that he, too, would get gifts!
When you have a heart that deserves love, love finds its way to you.
Even Jacob’s new foster parents, Clara and Andrew, were very different from his prior foster carers. Every night, his new family ate dinner together, and when they said their prayers before the meal, Clara always held Jacob’s hand, smiled, and prayed with him.
Jacob liked his new home. It wasn’t the best, but it was not the worst either. He could live happily there and never feel lonely again, but…he soon realized no one in his new family actually cared about him.
When he tried becoming friends with the older boys in the household, they began bullying him. They mocked him, called him names, and told him he would never be welcomed into a loving family, get adopted, or have a good life.
Unfortunately, Andrew and Clara couldn’t afford to pay for Jacob’s school, so he was homeschooled. That also meant Jacob never left the house and never had the opportunity to make friends.
One day, Jacob sat alone, hugging his knees and crying. Suddenly, he felt a reassuring hand on his shoulder. When he looked up, he saw it was Clara.
“Hi, what’s up?” she asked. “Are you upset about something?”
Jacob nodded and wiped his tears. “Nobody loves me!” he sobbed. “Hudson, Caleb, and Roman hate me! They…they say nobody loves me and I will never get a loving home. Everyone hates me!”
“Oh!” she sighed as she wrapped her arms around him. “No, no, that’s so not true! You see, one day, you’ll have all the love in the world and the most loving family. Jacob, you should not take other people’s words to heart. You’re a lovely boy, and good kids like you deserve love, not tears.”
Clara somehow consoled him that day, but Jacob eventually found out that Hudson, Caleb, and Roman were right all along. Jacob overheard Clara and Andrew discussing that none of the potential adoptive parents were interested in adopting him.
Devastated, Jacob dashed back to his room in tears and cried for hours. He thought nobody loved him, that he would be stuck between foster families forever, and that one day he’d have to leave Clara, too, and restart his life, as he’d always been forced to!
Jacob was sad and heartbroken. Nobody in the whole world needed or loved him, he thought.
On his birthday, Jacob woke up with a heavy heart. He knew nobody in his new family cared about him except Clara, but he hoped that day would be different.
After all, he’d seen his family celebrate the birthdays of the older boys, so he thought his birthday would be celebrated, too.
Excited, the little boy dashed down the stairs and into the living room, hoping to see a huge birthday cake, gifts, and everyone waiting to wish him a “Happy Birthday!”
But Jacob stopped dead in the living room when he saw no one but Clara. She stood alone, a modest smile on her face, and a small homemade cake with a lighted candle was kept on the table.
“Happy birthday, little boy!” she chirped as she scooped him into her arms and made him sit at the table. “Now, make a wish and cut the cake!”
Jacob looked around in tears. “Where… where has everyone else gone?” he asked.
“You slept for too long, sweetie,” Clara said apologetically. “They all left for their schools, and Andrew had some urgent work.”
Jacob’s shoulders sagged. “So…” he said sadly. “It’s just the two of us?”
“Yes!” Clara said brightly. “And the two of us get to celebrate the most special boy’s birthday! Now, c’mon, make a wish and cut the cake.”
With his lips quivering and tears running down his cheeks, Jacob made a wish that he wanted a family, one that would love him and care for him, and blew out the candle.
You are never alone.
Then Clara wished him a happy birthday, and they shared a slice of cake before she served him breakfast. After Jacob finished eating, Clara said she had some work to do and asked him to go out and play.
Jacob went to his room and collected his toys. Right then, an idea popped into his mind. He only took his favorite toys and dashed to the backyard. He decided to throw himself a birthday party…
Jacob stretched out a duvet and arranged all of his toys on it before taking the remaining cake from the fridge and placing it in the center of the spread-out blanket. He didn’t know how to write well, so he scribbled ‘Happy Birthday’ on a piece of paper and taped it on the porch wall.
Jacob stood alone now and looked around. The decorations around him were sloppy and boring—a low-budget replica of the celebrations he’d seen before. There were no party poppers, no guests, and no one singing happy birthday to him.
At the end of the day, Jacob was lonely and upset. His eyes welled up with tears. Though he had managed to replicate a birthday party to some extent, he was still alone. There was still no one to love him, hug him, or wish him properly.
Then there was a strong wind, and the entire blanket arrangement Jacob had made flipped over, destroying everything. The happy birthday note he’d taped to the wall crashed to the ground, the toys were strewn about, and the cake was ruined.
Jacob started crying. “I hate my life!” he sobbed. “I hate everything! Nobody loves me!”
Jacob dashed back home and sank onto the living room stairs, his soft toy beside him. He buried his face in his knees and couldn’t stop crying. Yet again, nothing special happened on his birthday. The older boys were right. He would never be loved by anyone. He would never get accepted by a family, either.
Jacob was sobbing his heart out, disappointed that his ‘birthday party’ was an absolute disaster, when he heard a soft voice calling out to him. “Happy birthday, son!” it said.
Jacob looked up, sniffing, and saw a pretty woman and a handsome man he had never seen before standing in the doorway of his house. They held several balloon strings and a box with a big bow. Clara stood beside them, smiling.
“Oh god! Why are you crying, honey?” the woman worriedly asked. “Are you OK?”
Jacob rose to his feet and stepped away from them. The first thing he remembered was the social workers who always visited him with smiles when it was time for him to go to a new foster family. He was terrified that these people would take him away from Clara, the one person who cared about him.
“Did—Did you just call me, son?” Jacob asked her. “Who… who are you?”
The woman smiled as she walked over to Jacob. “Well, that’s a surprise!” she laughed, looking back at the unknown man.
Then she knelt before Jacob and asked, “Isn’t today your birthday? We’re here to share your joy. Here,” she added, handing him the box with the big bow on top. “Open it!”
“This is for me?” he asked, accepting the box.
She nodded. “Go ahead and open it. You’ll find out!”
When Jacob opened the box, he found a hardened sheet of paper inside. Jacob was homeschooled and didn’t know how to read well, but he began crying as he understood what the letters at the top of the hardened sheet meant.
“ADOPTION CERTIFICATE,” it read.
“You…” he sobbed. “You… you are my mommy? I’ve never had a real one before!”
Jacob threw himself into her arms and cried his heart out.
“Oh, darling,” she gently wrapped her arms around him and patted his back. “It’s all right; it’s all right. My name is Pearl, and that is my husband, Eric. We are extremely lucky to have you as our son!”
Pearl could feel Jacob’s tiny body trembling in her arms. She pulled away from him and wiped his tears. “Yes, I’m your mommy, and you’re my little son. Thank you for coming into our lives, Jacob. You’re our precious little boy.”
“Do you… Do you love me?” Jacob asked, looking at Pearl, then at Eric.
Eric grinned. “Of course we do, little man!” he exclaimed as he joined Pearl. “We chose you out of all the kids we met! YOU ARE OUR SON!”
Jacob almost couldn’t believe it. He didn’t expect his birthday wish to come true so soon.
By then, the older kids were back from school and shocked to see the hubbub inside their house. “What’s going on?” Caleb asked, looking at Pearl and Clara.
Clara beamed as she announced Jacob’s adoption to the lads. “Andrew and I wanted Jacob to feel loved…we’ve never had a lonelier child stay with us. We were so worried about Jacob! When we met Pearl and Eric, and they said they wanted to take Jacob in, we… we were just so relieved and happy.”
The older boys were shocked since they had not expected Jacob to be adopted into a loving household.
“Unfortunately,” Clara explained to the boys. “We knew you guys weren’t very polite to Jacob either. He was lonely, guys, and I hope his life improves from here on out.”
On the same day, Jacob left for his new home. When he arrived, his new family was waiting for him. Jacob was in for a sweet surprise when he discovered he suddenly had a large family, complete with grandparents, several siblings, and, most importantly, a dad and mom!
Jacob was the center of attraction that day as his new family celebrated his birthday. He had a big cake, a beautifully decorated house, and lots and lots of love. Little Jacob was so delighted that day that he thought his tiny heart would burst with all the happiness!
What can we learn from this story?
There are kind, loving people around you who care about you. You are never alone. Though Clara was just a foster guardian to Jacob, she cared for the boy and loved him genuinely.
When you have a heart that deserves love, love finds its way to you. Jacob had been lonely his entire life and had given up hope of ever finding a family, but eventually, a loving family found their way to him.
Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.