When it comes to traveling for adoption, the most important thing is to have a flexible attitude. You may be presented with an adoption opportunity with a potential birth mother for several months before her due date, or you might get the call that your little one was born yesterday!
General Travel Tips
If you do get presented with an adoption opportunity in advance, take some to research the location where your baby will be born to decide your best plans for travel. Avoid booking your flights on a cheap site. They often have rules have expensive breakage fees, and with ICPC, you never know when you’ll be cleared to go back home with baby. The time after you have accepted an adoption opportunity is also a good time to reassure your other children by explaining what will happen and if they will be traveling with someone after you and your spouse are settled at the baby’s birthplace.
Plane travel is common in domestic infant adoption, especially when a couple wants to get to their new baby as soon as they can. Here are some general tips for plane travel with an infant:
- Get all your documents in order. Print boarding passes ahead of time. Be sure to carry adoption paperwork, especially for transracial adoption. The FAA also requires proof of a child’s identity and DOB. With adoption, you likely won’t have a birth certificate for quite some time, so get an official doctor’s note before you leave the hospital.
- Fly by the rules. For first time parents, organizing formula for a flight can be especially stressful. TSA does allow for more ounces of formula than it does other liquids, but check out their site for clarification.
- Dress for security and only bring what you need. When handling a baby, diaper bag, car seat, etc. in the airport, the more you can check in advance, the better. Make sure to wear something that will allow you to pass through the metal detectors quickly. Try to dress your baby in layers, since you never know if the plane will be cold. And pack a change of clothes for your little one just in case.
- Double-check rules for carry-ons. Your baby’s stroller might count as your carry-on if you don’t buy a ticket and seat specifically for the baby. Check the stroller at the gate if you can; when you arrive, you’ll be glad you did.
- Manage ear pressure with a bottle or pacifier. The easiest way for a baby to eliminate ear pressure is by sucking. If you can, time feedings for take-off and landing. Flights can be dehydrating, so make sure you’re keeping baby fed.
- Change diapers on the rear seats. We all know how small airplane bathrooms are. Diaper changes definitely call for improvisation. One solution is to use the rear seats where the flight attendants sit during landing and take-off. You’ll have much more room. Just make sure you ask first!
At the Hotel
Depending on where your baby is born, you may not have many options for your stay. But here are some tips for making the best of it, no matter where you are:
- Use a lifeline. Bring a number of someone you can call with silly questions. For first time parents, especially, those first couple days and nights can be overwhelming. Don’t hesitate to call someone you trust with questions.
- Improvise the baby’s bed. If you don’t have time to get a crib or pack ‘n play, your baby can sleep in a drawer lined with blankets. Hotel dresser drawers are likely used less than a rented pack ‘n play.
- Try to get a hotel with a fridge and laundry. Extended stay hotels and corporate apartment can sometimes feel more homey. And don’t forget to bring a laundry bad and quarters!
- Get out of the hotel. Take the baby out in a stroller during naptime. Don’t get cooped up in the hotel. It’ll make you nuts. Plus you’ll want to remember your child’s birthplace so that you can share information he or she grows up.
- Make memories. You’ll probably collect keepsakes (like a local paper with your child’s date of birth) and take lots of photos. But don’t rely on your memory alone – take notes, videos and photos. You might even bring an extra duffle or bag for things you acquire while you’re there.
Just for Fun
Here are a couple different additional resources for traveling:
- Infant Adoption Guide’s 10 domestic adoption travel tips
- Blogger Joanna Goddard’s 10 tips for traveling with baby
As always, refer to your Adoption Opportunity Manual (previously called the Match Manual) or ask your Adoption Specialist for more specific advice! And stay tuned for more travel advice for your and your kids later this week!