Photo courtesy of the Robbins family.

Noah Robbins spent more than half of his life in foster care before finding his forever home.

Photo courtesy of the Robbins family.

During a Zoom hearing on Dec. 11, the 5-year-old boy and his “brother,” a Shih Tzu named Lucky, were formally adopted by Michaela and Dave Robbins of Lawrenceville. They’ve been caring for Noah for more than a year.

“He’s been a part of our family for so long that, while the hearing was a huge milestone for us, it was just a formality,” says Michaela Robbins. “But I cried the first time I heard the judge say ‘Noah Robbins.’”

In July 2019, the couple, who had been looking to adopt a child for five years, met their son while volunteering at The Children’s Home of Pittsburgh & Lemieux Family Center in Friendship. The licensed nonprofit organization has an adoption program and a Pediatric Specialty Hospital, where Noah was receiving care.

The couple instantly fell in love with the fun-loving, quick-witted redhead, who was born with arthrogryposis. His limbs are permanently bent and his spine is heavily compromised, which interferes with his lung function.

The staff at The Children’s Home (and Noah himself) gave the Robbinses, who had no previous experience with a medically fragile child, extensive lessons on his day-to-day needs.

He gets around in a wheelchair, has a trach and gastrostomy tube and uses a ventilator at night to help him breathe. He’s had nine surgeries in the last year, with more to come.

Despite all of his medical issues, Noah is one happy kid. His story was recently featured in People magazine which quotes Robbins as saying, “Noah says sometimes that he had always been looking for us, and when he found us, he just knew. I think we very much felt the same way about him.”

These days, Noah likes to tool around Busy Beaver in Lawrenceville where he is a celebrity among the staff and fellow shoppers. The hardware store is one of the only places the family visits due to Covid concerns.

Photo courtesy of the Robbins family.

At home, Noah acts like any typical 5-year-old; he attends virtual kindergarten classes, builds Lego sets and plays with his four canine siblings. He immediately formed a special bond with Lucky, who is missing a paw.

The Robbins family has a lot to celebrate this Christmas, which is Noah’s favorite holiday. They’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of their adopted home (Michaela is a transplant from Boston and Dave grew up in Philadelphia.)

Although Noah’s health care is paid for by the state, insurance does not cover the home improvements and transportation upgrades that will make his life a little easier.

Volunteers from St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Allison Park built a ramp outside of the family’s three-story row house and the couple recently launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for a wheelchair-accessible van.

So far they’ve raised $52,000 of their $82,000 goal.

Michaela and Dave believe in paying it forward and will soon open their home and hearts to another foster child.

“We’re humbled by the experience,” Robbins says. “People are constantly telling us that we’re good people for adopting Noah, but we’re the lucky ones.”

Kristy Locklin is a North Hills-based writer. When she's not busy reporting, she enjoys watching horror movies and exploring Pittsburgh's craft beer scene.