Franklin Family Brings Home Son From The Congo

Posted at 10:59 PM, Mar 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-12 00:03:18-05

In what may have been the cutest welcome party the Nashville Airport has ever seen, around 70 people including dozens of kids were waiting with signs and banners Friday evening.

Most of the signs read "Welcome home Daniel," in honor of a little boy they'd never met.

To three in the crowd, Daniel is a new little brother. And they say he's already got a nickname.

"There were two Daniels at his home, and his last name is Johnson so they called him Jo Jo!" said Brooke Johnson, flanked by her little brother and sister.

The home she's talking about was in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Daniel's new grandparents were missionaries years ago and it turns out his adoptive dad was born there too.

"We were in Africa for 10 years," said grandmother Inga Johnson, "we have four sons but Roger's the youngest and he was born over there."

After half an hour of waiting at the gate, Julie and Roger Johnson arrive with a sleepy Daniel strapped to Julie's front.

Cheers and hugs were all around.

"You're the last Johnson baby!" exclaimed Inga, happy to welcome her 11th grandchild.

The adoption process was long and difficult, after the Congo put a hold on exit permits.

"You're struggling week after week, day after day waiting for that next email, waiting for that next significant thing to happen," Roger said.

"It's hard to believe he's real and he's here," said Julie tearfully, after Skyping with her son for so long.

Daniel will now start learning the language with his family to help. For his parents Friday is a sigh of relief the journey is over.

"I think so many people come out to see it because we like to see redemption and we like to see God do something really great and that's what happened today," Julie said.

And they're finally out of limbo as they leave to start the rest of their lives together.

"This period right here that we celebrate marks the beginning of the rest of the story. Which is really a story about what life is gonna become for him and for us as a family," Roger said.