Americans have been prohibited from adopting from the country of Nigeria until recent years. In fact, no one in the state of Georgia has attempted to adopt from Nigeria. That is until November of 2016. The Valdosta Daily Times (VDT)  got the pleasure of sharing the adoption story of JoJo, a bright and boisterous two-year-old, and the first child in Georgia to be adopted from Nigeria.

For Josh and Molly Gervacio, adoption was an easier decision. Molly’s parents had adopted her younger brother Micah from Guatemala when Molly was 16 years of age. Adoption seemed to be a part of the plan for Josh and Molly. Molly told VDT, “There were always things going on in the back scenes,” Molly Gervacio said. “Something in the back scenes where God’s at work.”

The Gervacio’s moved to Georgia in 2016 when Josh took a job as an Associate Pastor at Covenant Baptist Church in Valdosta. Deciding that their hearts were pulling them in the direction of international adoption, Josh and Molly signed on with Nightlight Christian Adoptions. It was through this adoption agency that they were introduced to the child who would soon be their son, Joseph, aka JoJo.

JoJo was found abandoned in a warehouse in Nigeria as a newborn on March 19, 2016. The Gervacio’s son Isaac happened to be born on March 18, 2016, the suspected possible date of JoJo’s birth, giving the date a very special meaning.

The Gervacio’s had the emotional and financial support of both their immediate and church family. Their church, Covenant Baptist where Josh is on staff, helped finance some of the steep adoption costs of $40,000 by holding a yard sale in their benefit.

The Gervacio’s told VDT that they experienced a blow in their plans when their visas were denied by Nigeria with no explanation given. After much deliberation, they decided to take the risk to enter Nigeria with only documentation of their adoption plans. Fortunately, they did not experience any issue once in the country.

The couple, who also brought along their son Isaac, was able to stay with an English-speaking host family while in Nigeria. This was made possible through the Morgan Hill Children Foundation.

When Josh and Molly visited the orphanage to meet JoJo, Josh humorously recounts JoJo’s reaction to the shock. “Here we are, white mom, Asian dad, he screamed for three weeks,” Josh joked.

As JoJo has been abandoned, the state department did not have to take much time looking for a biological family for the child as is the goal. The new family was able to travel home to Georgia on July 3, 2016. Kayden Joseph Gervacio spent his first day in America with his family celebrating the birth of a nation.

While adoption in Nigeria may now be allowed, continued violence and hostility in the country often thwart adoption efforts. For cases like Josh and Molly who now have their beautiful son home, their risks were certainly worth it. You can find out more about Nigeria and how to adopt internationally here.