Headlights flickered through the spindly trees as I watched the minivan pull into our driveway. The garage door wheezed open. I threw “Divergent” on the living room floor without marking my page.

The neon green numbers on the oven read 12:32 a.m.

I tried to hold our Australian blue heeler back, but Dingo was too excited and jumped all over the long-anticipated newcomer. The screech that emerged from the blue minivan’s back door was a higher pitch than my ears were willing to register.

That scream belonged to my new brother. Welcome home, Evedson.

My 14-year-old world changed faster than I could say “gade,” which means “look” in Hatian Creole. My family had been waiting for this day to come while enduring three years of paperwork, home visits and monthly photo updates.

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It all started when my parents watched “The Blind Side” together. The movie’s premise is that a homeless teenager, who dips in and out of school for years, is taken in by a couple who eventually become his legal guardians. My mom said she had a strong feeling after watching it, but she didn’t think much of it since it was an emotional film.

Not long after, the magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010.

When my mom visited her parents one day, my grandma mentioned she had just seen something about the orphans in Haiti on TV and told my mom that our family should adopt.

“Yeah right,” she responded.

But she couldn’t shake the thought.

She went home and talked to my dad about it for hours. Turns out, they both had the same feeling tugging on them during “The Blind Side” movie premiere.

“Alright God,” my mom prayed. “This is a big deal. Please give me three signs in the next week to confirm this is what you want us to do.”

When she showed up to work, the front page of the newspaper featured an article about adoption. She received a voicemail from the international nonprofit World Vision about the orphans in Haiti. In a dream, one of her coworkers told her she should adopt.

Although her prayers had been answered, my mom still couldn’t believe it.

“OK God, I know I just asked you for three signs, but they were all somehow related to the earthquake in Haiti,” she said. “Just show me one more sign unrelated to this natural disaster so I know for sure.”

The following week, she accompanied me on our annual bring-mom-to-school-for-a-day visit. While my fifth grade classmates and I worked on an assignment, my mom chatted with my teacher.

“Did you notice that Dawson is gone today?” Mrs. Walberg said, gesturing to an empty chair in my pod of desks. “He went with his family to China to bring home his new sister. Have you ever thought about adopting?”

That was the final straw. My mom couldn’t deny it any longer. She checked with my dad before they looped my sister and I in on the plan. We were giddy at the thought of having a younger brother.

And that’s what cued the three-year long process. International adoption definitely tests a person’s patience.

While waiting for their new family member to come home, the Johnsons received monthly photo updates from the adoption agency. This photo of Evedson was taken around eight years ago. (Contributed)
While waiting for their new family member to come home, the Johnsons received monthly photo updates from the adoption agency. This photo of Evedson was taken around eight years ago. (Contributed)

When we heard the news that we could finally bring him home, my sister and I told my parents to book the soonest flight possible to Haiti. It wouldn’t truly feel like Christmas until every member of our family was present.

This Christmas will mark seven years since Evedson’s arrival home on Dec. 25, 2013. It blows my mind to think that our paths may never have crossed if my parents hadn’t decided to adopt.

Evedson has grown from the 5-year-old who was terrified of dogs and didn’t understand the concept of snow. He’s now a middle schooler who enjoys drawing and comprehends sarcasm.

I can’t imagine my life without him. His goofiness and compassion are unmatchable. He giggles at his own farts until he can hardly breathe. He wants nothing more than to wrestle me to the ground, but whenever he senses I’m upset, he wraps his arms around me and wipes every individual tear away.

No matter how many Christmases pass, I will always be grateful for my little brother. The one I never knew I always wanted.