Several of my close friends and family members were adopted, adopted a child, or are in the process of adopting a child from Asia. In fact, my sister is months away from traveling to China to pick up her daughter, and our very own Gadling writer, Jamie Rhein has a daughter adopted from Vietnam. While China, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, and India are just a few of the popular adoption locales these days, there are several others popping up all over the globe.
The adoption travel trip is like no other you will ever experience in your life. It’s is the first step in documenting your adoptive child’s journey with you. It’s something s/he will not likely remember, so taking photos, and recording the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of his/her birthplace is a most important step in the process.
Certainly, a lot of preparation has to take place before you even step foot on foreign soil. (Sometimes the adoption application process can take up to two years!). However, so much goes on during and after the trip, that it’s important to consider your adoption travel experience in three distinctive parts:
- Consider your health: Just as you would prepare for an ordinary trip abroad, you will need to understand the health risks involved in traveling abroad. Odds are you are traveling to a third world country where diseases like malaria and dengue fever can be contracted. Be sure to take the necessary precautions (i.e. take those preventative shots) and stock up on the necessary medications.
- Get travel insurance: This is an important trip, and you don’t want it to be bogged down by lost baggage or flight cancellations. Nowadays, travel insurance can cost as little as $100 a month, so it’s worth the peace of mind.
- Pack light: Don’t burden yourself with excess baggage. Necessities like diapers and clothes are attainable and often cheaper upon arrival in your destination.
- Document and record every moment: Take photos, keep a journal, and pay attention to even the smallest details of your experience. This is really the symbolic birthplace of your new child, so capturing as many memories as you can is crucial.
- Allow time for adaptation: You will not be jetting over to this country just to jet back. It’s important to take the time that is necessary to allow your new child to adapt to his/her parents and surroundings. Sightseeing is a great experience for both you and the child, as well as simple human interaction.
- Take your time: Patience is a virtue most necessary for adoptive parents. Your new child will need even more time to get used to his/her new national soil and the different faces that make up his/her new family. Go slow in immersing him/her into the new pace and style of life.
- Visit the pediatrician: This is a necessary step in identifying just how healthy your new child is. Measures may need to be taken to ensure his/her stability and health upon arrival home, so make sure this initial trip to the doctor is thorough and extensive, yet comfortable and informative.
- Return to the birth country when the time is right: At some point, your fully adapted child will need to understand where s/he came from. If possible, make the trip with your child when s/he is able to document the experience for him/herself.
Adoption regulations change depending upon diplomatic relationships between countries. Be sure to find out the newest regulations before you embark on this journey, and be prepared that things might change. Sometimes adoptions are halted between the U.S. and another country.
Also, be advised that some countries suggest or require multiple trips before the real adoption takes place. If this is the case, the initial trip is a unique opportunity to explore the country, document, and record before you become a parent. Enjoy this special journey!
The following are some helpful sites with useful adoption travel tips and stories: