‘We saw the beautiful face of a precious 2-year-old. It was as if our souls knew, deep down, she was ours. We said YES.’: Couple shares international adoption story, ‘It’s surreal’

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“I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, the middle of three girls. I was raised by the most loving parents who not only provided what we needed physically but desired to set an example for me and my sisters and show us what it looks like to live a life of genuine love, being willing to sacrifice for the good of others and bringing light to the world around us.

In 2001, my dad took a leap of faith and traveled across the world to India. My sisters and I were young, and no one in our family had ever traveled so far away. My dad felt God nudging him to do it, so he went obediently. His first day in India was July 8, 2001. He visited orphanages and slums and saw the need firsthand. His world was completely rocked, to say the least. He came back a changed man, and it impacted our family immensely.

Courtesy of Morgan Terch

Fast forward a few years, my parents decided instead of taking my sisters and I to Disney World, they wanted to fly us across the world to India. To them, it was important for us to see the world is bigger than Birmingham, Alabama, and there are people across the world who matter and live very differently from us. So in June of 2005, we boarded the plane for India as a family of five.

I distinctly remember driving down the road in the middle of the night in Delhi, India upon our arrival. I remember seeing hundreds of bodies lining the street, my 12-year-old mind in complete shock processing these people truly had no home and nowhere to sleep at night.

Courtesy of Morgan Terch

We spent 7 days in India as a family visiting orphanages, slums, the India Gate, and even the Taj Mahal. We rode in auto rickshaws, ate tons of rice, and were enlightened to the gravity of the need. But as the need was realized, it wasn’t devoid of hope.

As we sang songs with the street children gathered, I remember the theme being pressed upon my young and eager heart — ‘You have been blessed to be a blessing.’ And at that moment I realized the gifts I had been given as a 12-year-old were not mine to hold onto but stewarded to me in order that I might be poured out for the sake of the world… For the sake of those in need.

Courtesy of Morgan Terch

We came home and remained connected with our friends in India. We thought and prayed for those we came in contact with often. Although present in America, we knew our hearts would be forever held in India… what we didn’t realize then is the depth to which this would be true.

In 2013, I was studying social work at the University of Alabama when an opportunity was presented for me to spend a summer in Nepal working with women who had been rescued from sex trafficking. When the opportunity arose, my interest peaked as I reminisced on our week in India several years before. This upcoming trip combined so many of my passions for South Asia, justice, and empowering and discipling women, so I jumped at the opportunity, and in June of 2013, I and my team boarded the plane for Nepal.

Courtesy of Morgan Terch

If the week in India changed me, the summer in Nepal was a complete transformation. I became deeply connected with 15 Nepali women (some as young as 13 years old) who had experienced great abuse and trauma throughout their lives. My attempts to connect with them and express to them their great worth and value seemed futile, but we saw God overcome our own human weakness. In a short summer, we saw these women learn to find joy, to play, to connect with and express love to others, to see they have something immensely unique and beautiful to offer the world. They learned to sew and earned certificates to validate their achievements. They were equipped, and despite a culture that was telling them they were worthless, they began to understand their true worth.

I knew I would never be the same. I knew this part of the world would hold a dear place in my heart forever. In fact, the next summer, I signed up for the same trip, this time as a trip leader. I ate rice and lentils for every meal, slept on a wooden plank every night with no air conditioner, and lost 15 pounds, but every bit of it was worth it to see the transformation that was taking place in the lives of these women. How could I say no?

Courtesy of Morgan Terch

When I came back from my second summer in Nepal, I knew I was nearing graduation, and my dream was to use my social work degree to continue to fight injustice in the world and empower and advocate for the least of these. An opportunity came up for me to intern at Lifeline Children’s Services in Birmingham, so I jumped at the opportunity, not knowing then the doors this next step would open for me.

After 2 months of interning at Lifeline, a job opportunity came up for an international social work position. I couldn’t have completed my application fast enough! I absolutely loved the environment of Lifeline and knew I wanted to make this into a career path for me as long as they would keep me around. In October 2014, I was hired as an international social worker for the Haiti program.

After several months working in the Haiti program and learning the ropes of international adoption, a need came up for a program manager for the up-and-coming India program. Although India adoptions had been open to the United States, Lifeline had just recently become accredited, so they were starting with one ‘pilot’ adoptive family and learning the ropes of a new process. Miraculously, I was approached by Lifeline’s leadership and asked if I wanted to assist in pioneering this new program. Although shocked I was even considered for the opportunity, I excitedly accepted with hopes of remaining connected to this part of the world I had grown to love so deeply.

Fast forward a couple of months and a new employee was hired at Lifeline to help in their (un)adopted department, helping to provide sustainable opportunities for orphaned children who may never be adopted. His name was Jeffrey, and I was smitten on day one. We met on the very first day of Lifeline’s annual staff retreat. I noticed him in his green shirt and khaki pants the moment he walked in the room (men aren’t hard to miss at Lifeline since it’s a 98% female staff). I quickly looked for a ring, and when I didn’t find one, I convinced myself he was probably engaged or at least dating someone… Thankfully, I was wrong.

Courtesy of Morgan Terch

He happened to stand behind me for our staff photo that day, and I mustered up the courage to turn around and introduce myself. I will never forget seeing his kind eyes and scruffy beard, hoping maybe he would remember me in the sea of women he had likely met that day.

After 6 months of working together, Jeffrey asked me on our first date. In the same conversation, he also informed me he was going back to school to get his master’s degree in Building Science and wouldn’t be working at Lifeline anymore. I was sad, but also hopeful for the relationship that could be beginning to bud.

Courtesy of Morgan Terch

We went on our first date in March of 2016, and the rest is history. Jeffrey opened up about spending his college summers in East Asia where he studied the language and built relationships, a spark being lit for this part of the world. He then shared how he chose to spend the next 2 years post-graduation living in East Asia doing the same thing. His heart was filled with passion for the need in Asia and knew he wanted to give that time of his life to be poured out for those in need. Although we had only known each other a few months, it felt as though our hearts had been connected forever. We had unknowingly grown this passion for the people of Asia at the exact same time.

Courtesy of Morgan Terch

We were engaged on December 18, 2016, and married on May 13, 2017. We excitedly began our lives together with great hope and expectation for how God would use our combined passions for the people of Asia.

Fast forward to February of 2019… We were presented with an opportunity to move our lives to South Asia with a humanitarian organization providing resources for the most remote areas of the Himalayan mountains. We applied, interviewed, and even flew to South Asia for a vision trip. We loved every part of the organization, but for some reason, felt a hesitation in our gut. ‘Why wouldn’t we do this?’ we thought to ourselves, but deep down, even though we couldn’t pinpoint why, we knew it wasn’t right.

Courtesy of Morgan Terch

So in September of 2019, we stepped away from this dream of an opportunity. I reflected back on the months I had spent in this beautiful part of the world and how I had married a man with similar passions… Why wouldn’t we take this opportunity? Are we making a wrong decision?

In November of 2019, we were still healing from this journey and the unknowns of why even questioning if we made the right decision when God provided a house for us. We moved in, and it was as if the new scenery awakened a new desire in our hearts: Adoption. A desire that had always been there but felt distant suddenly felt so close, so tangible. It was as if we had no choice but to pursue it… So we pressed on. Paperwork, approvals, waiting… And in February of 2020 (the same month we would’ve moved to South Asia had we accepted the position), we officially began the process of adopting from India.

Courtesy of Morgan Terch

One huge barrier to international adoption was the finances. We knew adoption was expensive and were totally reliant on the Lord to provide around $40,000 that was needed. As we were brainstorming fundraising ideas, I had the idea of starting a vintage textile shop, working with suppliers in Turkey to source rugs for me to sell as a fundraiser for our adoption. I have always loved beautiful, vintage pieces, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity for us.

I went out on a limb and did an Instagram sale for my first batch of pillows, handmade from vintage Turkish rugs. I went into it thinking I might sell a few, but I ended up selling out of all the pillows in one hour. I was completely shocked and decided to dive deeper into the world of vintage textiles. In June of 2020, we officially launched our online shop, Wilder Way Threads. (This little shop ended up providing over $8,000 towards our adoption process, and we are still using it today as a platform to support other adoptive families.)

Liz Allison

Then, in September of 2020, exactly one year from the day we stepped away from this dream of moving to South Asia, God birthed a new dream. On September 1, 2020, we saw the beautiful face of a precious 2-year-old girl in India and said yes to making her ours. Her birthday? July 8, 2018. The same day my dad spent his first day in India, changing the trajectory of my life forever. Little did he know, during his first day in India 17 years later to the day, his granddaughter would be born. Some might say it’s a coincidence, but we know better. We know our God is in the details.

Liz Allison

For the next 6 months, we waited and prayed as we went through the approval process for India to deem her legally our daughter. We waited in hope, knowing in our hearts we already loved her deeply and saw her as our own.

On February 3, 2021, we boarded the plane for India. When we began the adoption process, we were prepared for a 2 to 3-year wait, so the fact we were boarding the plane 1 year from the day we began the process was completely unheard of. We had no explanation other than God’s grace… We believed His timing is perfect.

Courtesy of Morgan Terch

On February 7, 2021, in the middle of Maharashtra, India, we met our baby girl for the first time. The gravity of that moment couldn’t possibly be captured in words. We had heard stories of attachment taking a long time to grow, and we were prepared to feel like we were babysitting our daughter for the first several weeks (and maybe longer) as we adjusted and got to know each other.

Mandy Busby Creative

But when we laid eyes on our daughter, Eden, it was as if our souls knew deep down she was ours, and we loved her immediately with inexpressible love. I imagine the moment felt much like it would had I birthed her from my own womb. It was surreal and hard and beautiful all wrapped into one. But we were a family, and that was what mattered.”

Mandy Busby Creative

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Morgan Terch from Birmingham, Alabama. You can follow their journey on Instagram, Facebook, and their website. 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.

Read more touching adoption stories here:

‘What do we do?’ I asked, tears in my eyes. My husband knew what I meant. ‘We’re bringing an orphan home.’: Couple adopt ‘fearless’ Vietnamese daughter with limb difference, paints ‘masterpieces’ without arms

‘Try to have your own children first.’ But we wanted to adopt. Our son pushed us away. We cried with guilt.’: After infertility journey, parents adopt from Korea, ‘He brings us laughter’

‘The lawyer called, she wanted him back and the papers were already signed. I knew we’d be saying goodbye.’: Couple credits birth mom for saving almost failed adoption, ‘The bond between us made this happen’

‘Would you be willing to adopt a baby girl?’ The day we matched, we saw two blue lines of our own. We were terrified.’: Woman surprised with pregnancy during adoption, becomes first-time mom to 2 newborns

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