Packing for Adoption Travel

Whether you are adopting domestically or internationally, you may end up traveling for your adoption. There’s nothing more frustrating than showing up to take custody of your child and finding that you didn’t pack an essential. ¬†Whether you can get the item in the location in which you find yourself or not, it’s always easier to have things at hand rather than have to find them in a city that is unfamiliar.

By the time you read this, we will be in Addis Ababa, figuring out just what we forgot to pack. Even though we have lists and lists and more lists of what we need to bring along, we have probably forgotten something. I try not to stress too much about this prior to departure. If we have done our job well, we will have only forgotten things we can buy in Ethiopia. To make things easier, I break things up into categories and make a list for each category that suits our needs. Things we do not use every day or that are unique to adoption travel get packed as soon as I get the suitcases out, which is sometimes weeks before we actually travel. Each family’s needs will be slightly different depending on the circumstances of the adoption; this is a place to start.


  • Pack for Yourself 1 of 8
    Pack for Yourself
    This is similar to packing for other trips, with a few exceptions. If you are traveling internationally, you will want to bring along anything you cannot get in country. For me, this means a prescription from my doctor for an antibiotic just in case I get sick, plus a language guide book. Other things to consider are that you may need to wash clothing by hand, and depending on the age of your child, you may get dirty in ways you never got dirty before. Pack what you think you need, then add two extra outfits and an extra set of pajamas. A list of what I packed for myself last time I was in Ethiopia is here, and a list of what Jarod packed is here.
  • Clothing for Your Child 2 of 8
    Clothing for Your Child
    Because you may not be sure what size your child is wearing, pack things that are easily modified to work even if they're too large. For example, pants and shirts that can have cuffs and sleeves rolled up, dresses for girls that would look fine if they're a little long, and shoes of a few different sizes. Pack enough clothing for one outfit per day that you'll have custody before travel home, plus three extras. Pack a fancy outfit for occasions that warrant that and a special coming home outfit. If your child is potty trained, my opinion is that you cannot pack too much underwear, and I feel the same about socks. Don't forget the jammies, either; a pair for every two nights will be fine in most cases. A list of what we packed for Zinashi is here.
  • Child Toiletries and Other Basics 3 of 8
    Child Toiletries and Other Basics
    You'll need to bring along basic care items for your child, including comb or brush, nail clippers, over the counter medicines, medicine droppers, bandages and antibiotic cream. If your child has been living in group care, ring worm medication and lice treatment is also recommended. If you are adopting a baby, you will need to bring diapers, wipes, bottles, and formula. If you are traveling internationally, bring more than what you think you'll need of all of these items, as you can always donate extras, and it is incredibly inconvenient to run out of something essential and have to either go all over town looking for it or pay thrice what you'd pay in the US.
  • Special Toys and Blankets 4 of 8
    Special Toys and Blankets
    Every child needs some special things to call his or her own. For babies, a blanket, lovey, and a few baby toys will do the trick. For an older child, a special blanket and stuffed animal is still appreciated, along with a variety of age-appropriate toys.
  • Familiar Snacks 5 of 8
    Familiar Snacks
    It's never good to be jet-lagged and hungry in the middle of the night with no place to get a snack. It's also a comfort during stressful times to have something to eat that is familiar. We pack a variety of snacks in one of our carryon bags so that we can eat on the plane and once we have arrived. If you're adopting an older child, also pack some snacks that will be fun for them, such as lollipops, pop rocks, and little chocolate bars. Gum isn't necessarily a snack, but most kids love it.
  • Paperwork 6 of 8
    There will be necessary paperwork to do once you arrive, and you do not want to lose any of it or forget it. I put together a binder with everything from forms we'll need for immigration to our shot records to all the records we have of our new child. I also include copies of our passport photo pages and a sheet listing the card numbers of any credit cards we bring, as well as the customer service number should the card be lost or stolen.
  • Gear 7 of 8
    You're going to want photos and videos of your new family, and you're going to want to send that precious documentation to everyone waiting at home. Make sure you've packed your chargers and converters so that everything can be plugged in and charged up.
  • Passports, Cash, and Credit Cards 8 of 8
    Passports, Cash, and Credit Cards
    These should be carried on your person at all times, preferably in an under-the-clothes belt or pouch. I prefer the pouch that can be hung around my neck and tucked into the waistband of my pants. These are the things that you absolutely cannot afford to take chances with, so don't forget them, and protect them.

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Article Posted 4 years Ago

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