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  • Erica Rosi Tham

1. Choosing International Adoption

Updated: Mar 3

Do you love looking for rainbows? Sometimes, when we're fortunate, the rainbow appears next door.

Philip and me during a recent visit to Shillong, India.

Why choose to adopt?

We all have a story.

When I was fourteen and struggling with the recent death of my father, I happened to see a father and eight children getting out of a tawny-colored van and heading toward their house. Every child was of a different color. This was a small town in southern Virginia where rainbows only existed in the sky. I thought, “wow, they’re wonderful!”

Fifteen years later, I became an English language teacher at a refugee office in Seattle. I enjoyed the exciting work of teaching people from Somalia, Ethiopia, Vietnam and Bangladesh how to speak and gain employment in a new world. I wanted to go overseas myself, but I did not have the will to make it happen. The chance arrived when I met my husband, Philip, a gentle soul from a tribe in northeast India.

The desire to adopt had stayed with me, though by this time, I was thirty-seven and starting to believe that my drive-to-mother instinct was below average. When I suggested adoption to Philip, he was not enthusiastic. He already had a daughter by his previous wife, who had passed away, and he was tenaciously working to secure his daughter’s visa in order to bring her to the U.S. We started our travels to India, and I soon became involved with my amazing new family.

You might notice that my husband’s name is not Indian. He belongs to a people, called the Khasis, a tribal group who inhabit the city of Shillong in the Meghalaya region, close to the borders of Bangladesh and China. They are one of few Indian peoples who accepted Christianity when a group of Welsh missionaries dared to suggest conversion about two hundred years ago. During my first visits, I discovered a modern city with a small-town feel; since most people do not leave the area, everyone knows a tremendous number of extended family relations. I celebrated a birthday there once. The first guest to arrive for my party was my mother-in-law’s third cousin. “Only close relatives have been invited,” she reassured me.


These are my in-laws and friends in Shillong a few days before my brother-in-law's wedding.



I met my stepdaughter in Shillong when she was thirteen, but she did not join us in America until shortly before her eighteenth birthday. We worked hard to help her adjust, and eventually, she made it into a good university.

Last Christmas, our cozy Seattle home began to feel lonely. Maybe I had the winter blues—short days with dense cloud cover weighed heavily—so I went on one of the long walks I take when I want to work out a problem. My question was: what will make me happy? And then a new question came to me—should we adopt? I was shocked. The thought had not crossed my mind for years. I felt wonderfully inspired, yet concerned by the intensity of this idea, and I walked and mulled it over for days before I shared my thoughts with Philip. His eyes widened vivaciously. “Sure,” he said. “I love kids!”

That’s my story.

Thirty-five years ago, I noticed a rainbow-colored family, and the seed of the dream was planted.

All things in their time.

The process would prove infinitely more difficult than I could have imagined. Being a writer by nature, I soon realized that journaling would not only be a healthy pastime; it would ensure my sanity.

I am here to share my experiences with the other brave souls who are endeavoring to open their homes to needy kids, shed some light on aspects of the process that need improving, and have some fun along the way.

So there we were, a happy couple naively chatting about the kids we would “just adopt.”

Isn’t that what people say? Hey, if we need to, we’ll just adopt.

Just becomes a very interesting, multi-faceted word.


Erica Rosi Tham





Continue Reading. This blog is an ongoing story. Follow the numbers to read it in order. You can also start listening to the podcast.
2. Adoption Research: New Friends--about our efforts to adopt from India and the couple we met in Shillong, my husband's city, who inspired us.
3. Adoption Research: So Many Countries--the many countries one can choose from and how I turned to God for guidance in making the choice
4. Getting Started with Adoption: Becoming a PAP--the reality check of large fees and overwhelming paperwork
5. A Miracle in Corry, Pennsylvania--about an inspiring trip I took with my mother and sister just after starting the adoption process
6. Adoption Medical Appointment: Your Heath and Your Dream--facing the fear of a health problem when hoping to adopt
7. Adoption Paperwork and Patience: so much paperwork, finding a notary, and staying sane
8. Telling Family and Writing an Autobiography: telling your family you will adopt and one more big requirement for adoption: your autobiography

Peace and joy to you and your family. Thanks for reading!

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