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  • Erica Rosi Tham

3. Adoption Research: So Many Countries

Updated: Jan 28

If you choose international adoption, you may have a country in mind ... at first. Then you discover that the first country you need to explore is called Adoption.

I was sitting in our kitchen nook, resting my eyes by gazing through the windows at some distant Douglas fir trees gently swaying in the breeze.

Okay, back to work.

I had narrowed my search down to two agencies, one in Oregon and one in Seattle, and after emailing, I had scheduled phone calls and was writing my list of questions. They went something like this:

When you speak about special needs, what exactly does that mean?
Can you tell me how this process works?
It looks like you do not have a program with India. Do you know anyone who does?

I do not always prepare for phone calls, but the world of adoption was entirely new and seemed to have its own culture. Pretty soon, I was chatting with one woman after another who discussed their programs and varieties of special needs, and I had gained a referral to a second agency, a Virginia branch of the one in Seattle, that worked with India.

Several days later, I was on the phone with the woman working with this program, and she seemed to be talking me out of it; her pessimism was so pronounced that I decided not to work with her agency. Now what to do?

I was about to give up on India and call back the agency in Oregon that primarily worked with China; their representative had impressed me with her proactive cheerfulness. Yet I typed a few new words into a google search and happened upon Nightlight which had programs with about ten countries including India. Before long, Nightlight’s content had drawn me in like a moth to a drawer full of woolens. Colombia. India. The Dominican Republic. China. Which program did we qualify for and what did each program offer?

A week later, I had spoken to representatives from each program, and my mind was reeling with information and indecision. I felt it was a decision I needed to make with God, and I prayed for guidance.

Days passed. When no revelation came to me, I decided that this absence of an answer was the answer itself. God could not give me guidance because there are needy children everywhere.

I was descending the hill several blocks from my house when I noticed with keen recognition a tree that had dazzled me during our trip to India.


We had discovered it while touring St. Thomas’s Cathedral in the city of Chennai shortly before our return, a slender tree with arching branches and grand bright yellow flowers that hung like grapes. I had loved it so much; I had insisted that we take each other’s picture under this tree. Here it was, smaller and less bright in our northern climate, yet certainly the same tree, so close to home.

I knew that India was the country to choose.

After contacting the Nightlight representative, we were on our way. I felt wonderful that day, a tough decision made with divine inspiration and the teasing light of a new world gracing the horizon.

I did not know that the honeymoon phase had just ended.


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