Daniel Donaldson and his family had always left the decision up to their foster daughter if she would like to become legally adopted. So, after 524 days, Alecia planned a birthday surprise to make it official.
Donaldson, who has been a youth sports coach in Haleyville, Alabama, for many years, became a mentor and friend to 14-year-old Alecia after coaching her in 2019.
After he became aware of Alecia's foster care experience, the family said they didn’t hesitate to take her in.
A few months before Donaldson’s birthday, Alecia asked his wife Tiffany Donaldson to make it official. So on Donaldson’s birthday, Tiffany Donaldson, their three other children and Alecia, blindfolded him and lined up with a series of signs to share the good news.
“This man here started out as just my coach, but he stepped up when he didn’t have to,” read a sign. “He is now not only my coach. My encourager, my protector, my provider, but now the man I call daddy.”
When Donaldson took off the blindfold and read the signs, he was overcome with emotion and gave his new daughter a hug.
Aleicia told “World News Tonight” on Monday that the moment was unforgettable.
“I will always remember that day and the hug he gave me,” she said. “When he hugged me I felt so happy and safe.”