AURORA, Colo. — A couple from Colorado is stuck in Nigeria with their newly adopted daughter, unable to travel home for months while waiting for a visa for the young girl, just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
"We just wanted to have a family, and it made sense for us," Robin Gallite, sitting next to her husband Alli, told Denver7 via FaceTime interview.
Alli has Nigerian roots, and when the couple decided to adopt, they chose to adopt from that African nation. They filed the paperwork and flew to Nigeria in August to take their new daughter, Nike. The process on the Nigerian side went smoothly, according to the couple. Getting their daughter paperwork so she could travel with them back to the U.S. proved to take months.
"Even though the child is legally ours, we can't take her out of the country," Alli explained. "She needs to be vetted through the system and get a visa."
The adoption went through in August when Nike was nine months old. Six months later, her parents still did not have the approval for that visa. That's when the COVID-19 pandemic began hitting the U.S., and Nigeria was placed on the President's travel ban list.
"We would be able to go home since we are American citizens, but (Nike) wouldn't be able to come with us unless she has the clearance to actually travel with us," Alli said.
The couple could leave Nigeria for home, but wouldn't be able to take their daughter with them.
"That decision to leave once we were together was, yeah, we just couldn't. We just couldn't leave her," Robin said.
The family of three decided to stay together by staying in Nigeria. Evacuation flights have now left, many of the airports have closed to international travel. Nike still does not have her visa.
"To be faced with our own U.S. government holding us up as citizens to bring our daughter home is the hardest part to navigate for us," Robin explained.
The three are staying with members of Alli's family, working remotely, and contacting their local representatives and the U.S. State Department. They say they're basically waiting and hoping.
"We just want to be able to introduce our daughter to our friends and family," Robin said.
Denver7 has reached out to Representative Jason Crow and Senator Michael Bennett's office on behalf of the family.