“Our story goes back 14 years. As a 14-year-old, I knew I had a mutual passion for working with children and overseas missions. Through a lot of research and conversations with other adults, I discovered occupational therapy. My passion and pursuit of OT led me to complete internships in a variety of both domestic and international settings, which opened my eyes to the power, beauty, and challenge of adoption.
While I was in graduate school pursuing my Doctorate of Occupational Therapy, I met my husband, Robbie. He was a talented, spontaneous, and hard-working man who had just moved to Nashville to pursue music and worship ministry. One of our very first conversations was related to our mutual passion for adoption. After a wild, adventurous, and growing season of dating and engagement, we married in June of 2016. Our hope and prayer for our future family were to adopt prior to building our family biologically.
In the spring of 2018, Robbie and I both knew we were ready to pursue adoption. The biggest question in our mind was ‘Where?’ My time in Haiti and Africa had given me a skewed view of the adoption community and the tragic corruption that adoption can turn into. In addition, our age (I was only 25 at the time) and years of marriage limited our options for international adoption. Unexpectedly, we got a call that led us to travel to Taiwan to lead a camp, where my husband was leading worship for missionary kids. It was a week of leading recreational games, Bible Studies, and building connections within the country.
We only spent 8 days in Taiwan, but we instantly fell in love. We loved the culture, the people, and the community. Throughout this week, we had multiple discussions with friends who lived in Taiwan and we discovered not only did we qualify to adopt from the country but Taiwan had an amazing adoption program that focuses on the best care for the children until they find their forever family.
After returning to the States and weeks of prayer, we quickly said YES. In November of 2018, our home study was complete and we were ready and waiting to get a direct referral. Only 2 months later, our caseworker sent us a profile of the cutest 13-month-old boy with mild special needs. It felt like a dream come true. We ideally wanted a child who was younger, and this profile came to us only months after starting the process. We were excited and felt like it was a dream come true. However, less than 50 days later, we found out it was a failed match. We were heartbroken, angry, and confused.
It was never in our plan to pursue a waiting child. In Taiwan, a child on this list means they either have pretty significant special needs, are in a sibling group, or are older children. As new and young parents, we initially felt like this didn’t fit our family. Very quickly, we learned if you just take a leap of faith, your story can be far grander. In April of 2019, I was pursuing the Taiwan advocacy page for waiting children and stumbled across the picture of three beautiful girls. At the time, they were 6, 4, and 2.
I sent their picture to my husband and expected a quick, ‘NO!’ to the idea of bringing home not only one child, but three. ‘He’ll think I’m crazy for wanting to adopt a sibling group of three.’ That wasn’t the case. In less than 5 minutes later, I got a quick, ‘Let’s find out more.’ Without hesitation, my husband was on board to find out more information. After learning more about the girls and their stories, we knew we had to pursue them. We spent 6 months pursuing these girls. We had to wait on their full profiles, get our home study updated, get paperwork translated and sent, re-do our I-600A, and then get final signatures from birth mom. This entire time we had no idea if they would be our babies, but we were continuing to be ready with open arms. Finally, on October 25, 2019, we got the call they were our daughters!
That October, our world instantly changed. We were so excited to share the news with our friends and family. We quickly set to work getting more paperwork done and hopefully bring them home summer of 2020. And then, COVID-19 hit. Countries closed and adoptions were put on pause. Many countries still are not open for adoptions, but Taiwan re-opened late spring. However, even when the country was open to travel, we didn’t get news about our travel dates. A few months later, still nothing. From the time we were matched to our girls to when we got our travel dates was almost 11 full months. I have never experienced that type of anxiousness and constant anticipation. We had bedrooms ready, the playroom, and we even bought a minivan in preparation for the girls.
That wait was the hardest season we’ve ever been through. However, I know it prepared us for this crazy new journey we have embarked on. Today is November 16, 2020, and this morning, I had the opportunity to meet my daughters in person for the first time.
Due to COVID-19, our one week trip turned into a month-long trip. My husband and I were required to quarantine in separate hotel rooms for 2 full weeks followed by a week-long self-health management week. This meant we were in Taiwan for 21 full days without ever getting to see our daughters. We had spent months Skyping them regularly and building that bond with them, and yet we were only miles away from them and still had to be separated. Everything changed when we had the best gift of holding our daughters in our arms today. Every night before the girls go to sleep, I give them a hug, a kiss, and say, ‘I love you.’ Well, last night, as I was doing our normal routine, I heard, Mommy, I love you’ for the first time!
From the time we started pursuing our daughters to today, we missed five separate birthdays. As of now, our daughters are 7, 6, and 4. In our wildest dreams, we never would have anticipated when we started the adoption process we would be Mommy and Daddy to a sibling group of three. However, I know God’s plan is always far greater than my own. Our daughters are strong, resilient, joyful, playful. They are the bravest little girls I know. They’ve lived a challenging life in their short years but forevermore Evelyn, Lucy, and Ava Grace are a part of the Alderman family.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Savannah Alderman from Nashville, TN. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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