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The specialists at American Adoptions have been fielding a lot of questions from adoptive families during this time of heightened uncertainty. In “Questions from Adoptive Families,” we’ll address some of the questions we’ve received, and hopefully preemptively answer questions for future waiting families.

We’ve probably written dozens of blogs for waiting families who want to be ready to travel the moment the expectant mother goes into labor. Now, for the first time, part of your “it’s-time-to-go” drill may include a rapid antigen test for COVID-19. So, do you need to take a COVID test before hopping on a plane for placement?

Here’s what you need to know as a waiting adoptive parent:

Some States Will Require a Negative Test, Others Won’t

When COVID-positive travelers enter a new area of the U.S., they can easily spread the illness to a region that had previously been seeing decreasing numbers of cases. So, states are taking precautions to prevent COVID from entering the area (especially if they lack the resources to respond to critical cases).

That may mean they require all travelers entering the state to first take a COVID test (usually a rapid test) to decrease the likelihood of transmission. This is a fairly new requirement, and it’s something that will continue to evolve and change.

At the time of this blog’s publication, this was the most up-to-date source on COVID travel restrictions by state.

What Would You Potentially Need to Do?

Again, this just depends on the states involved in your travel route. And again, each state’s individual requirements (if they have any) are constantly changing and adapting. We can’t give you a definitive answer, but we encourage you to remain flexible and be prepared to take a test if it’s required in your situation.

If you’re already matched with an expectant mother:

Your American Adoptions specialists can help — they’ll provide you with everything they know, based on the area you’ll be traveling to. We still encourage you to keep an eye on changing travel restrictions within your area and within the area that you plan on traveling to.

If you’re not matched with an expectant mother yet:

Sit tight for now! Travel restrictions in each state may very well change by the time you know where your child will be born, so you’ll likely only stress yourself out by constantly watching travel updates. Even so, it can help to know where you can receive a rapid test in your area — just in case you wind up needing it before you hit the road.

If you get an unexpected call about an available adoption situation:

If you get a call from us about a “pop-up” adoption situation (also sometimes called a “baby born” call), this puts you in a more stressful spot, because you hadn’t prepared in advance for that state’s potential restrictions. Naturally, you want to get there as quickly as possible. Don’t panic!

Some states offer rapid tests at the airport itself. This helps if you’re in a rush — you likely are, if you’re hurrying to meet your child for the first time! However, it can be pricey — a last-minute test at the airport could set you back up to $250. But, it may be an option, depending on where you’re traveling to and from.

What to Know About Rapid Tests

COVID-19 rapid tests typically provide you with results in about a day (sometimes more or less, depending on where you live and how many other tests the lab may be processing). So, if you do get a call that it’s time to go and that you will require a test, we recommend getting tested and then using the processing time to get packed up and make your travel arrangements.

Tests are often covered by insurance — check with your insurance provider to find out. If your insurance doesn’t cover COVID tests, it’s usually pretty inexpensive if you go to a local testing site.

If you do need a negative COVID test before traveling, make sure you find out:

  • How you need to confirm that negative result. Does the lab need to send those results themselves? Can you just pull up the e-mailed results on your phone, or forward that information via e-mail? Could your adoption specialist forward that information to the relevant parties for you?
  • Whom you need to communicate your negative test results to. Does the state’s Health Department need the information? Airport staff? The expectant mother’s hospital?

One last note about the COVID-19 rapid test: As you probably know, rapid tests are less accurate than the traditional lab test. Even if you receive a negative test, we urge you to continue socially distancing, wearing your mask at all times and washing your hands. This is imperative not only to curb the spread of the pandemic and to keep your family (and others) healthy, but to make sure you’re safe to travel at a moment’s notice!

Should You Just Keep Getting Tested, In Case You Need to Confirm You’re COVID-Negative?

No. This isn’t a good idea for three important reasons:

  • Unnecessarily repeated testing takes tests away from the many people who are symptomatic and need a test to receive urgent treatment.
  • It’s entirely possible you won’t even need one to travel to your expectant mother’s state.
  • Most states who do have this requirement will only accept a test administered within the past 1-3 days.

For now, we recommend staying up-to-date about:

More than anything, we encourage you to stay flexible and ready for anything. Travel requirements can change from day to day, and we’re doing our best to keep our waiting families informed about any changes the moment we learn about them.

We’re All in the Same Boat

We know it’s frustrating to not know what’s going to happen next. We’re right there with you.

We wish we had all the answers for you, but uncertainty and readiness to adapt is the nature of this pandemic. Know that, in circumstances where our adoptive families have been met with surprise travel requirements like this, we’ve come together to quickly find available tests for them, figure out what to do and help them get on their plane and meet their child. We’ll be here to do the same for you.

If you have any more questions about potential travel requirements, reach out to your American Adoptions specialist.

Check back here for more Questions from Adoptive Families!