So, you have worked through the paperwork and approvals and are ready for traveling! Each country is a little different experience when you travel to bring your child home. Do your research on country specifics, but here are a few things to consider before you travel.
Get your passport early. You don’t need to know when, or even where, you are going to travel to get your passport. Start early and check this off your list. The process is simple, and you can begin it online at Travel.State.Gov, but it can take up to six weeks.
Do a TSA Precheck. It can take a long time to get through security checks. A TSA Precheck allows you to skip the lines! You are through in less than 10 minutes instead of standing in lines for an hour. Information is at TSA.gov.
See your doctor. There are country-specific vaccinations or considerations that your doctor can tell you about. If you have any prescriptions, make sure you time their refills so that you’ll have enough medication while traveling.
Take an extra suitcase. A soft case can collapse into one of the cases you are taking in to the country. We took our children shopping while in country for clothes. Nothing from the orphanage came with them. We needed that extra suitcase to pack their new clothes, a few souvenirs, and toys.
Pack light. We planned on being in country for almost a month. It’s not easy to plan one suitcase worth of clothes for an entire month! Use mix and match sets, and try to look for colors that don’t easily show wrinkles and wear. We washed under garments in the bath tub at night and hung them to dry. Most toiletries can be bought in country. Don’t bother to bring big bottles of shampoo, body wash, and toiletries. You may not find your brand, but everything is available!
Toys and gifts for orphanages and in-country assistance can also be purchased while you are there. We did bring a few things that were big hits. Balloons provided hours of fun while being batted around the orphanage as did bubbles! Flat soccer balls were a good gift for the orphanage. Bring a small air pump you can leave with them too.
Update your will. You are traveling outside the country. Most people I know are not traveling like royalty. That means that some of the air planes your ride in – or cab trips you take – may make you grateful for that updated will. Really, it’s just a precaution and makes sense. Always keep your will updated.
Introduce your family to your child. Unless your child is an infant your child is going to be a little overwhelmed with all the new people. Bring pictures of your immediate family so you can show him or her who is waiting at home.
Bring a camera. Phone cameras are good, but you will want to take many pictures of your child and their country. A camera and extra storage cards will allow you to take as many pictures as you want.
Start a blog or diary. There is so much happening so fast that you will want to capture before you forget. The first time you see your child’s face. The look of the orphanage, or just the first impression of the country as you land. The details will slip away if you don’t write them down soon after experiencing them. This will be a wonderful source of joy for your children later!
Learn the country. Knowing a little about the country your child is from will help you enjoy the people and culture. Soak it all in so that your child learns to feel proud of where they are from.
Get excited! It’s an adventure! Nothing is going to be like it is at home, and everything is going to be worth it!