Written by Alexis Sullivan, International Team Lead
Coming home with your newly adopted child is the most exciting time for adoptive families. However, there are a few things that adoptive families may not think about when preparing to bring their child home. Our international team has composed a list of topics that are vital to making this transition as smooth as possible for your family:
- Travel light: When packing for your trip to bring your child home, you will want to bring as little luggage as possible. Traveling to the country will be different than traveling from the country back home because you will have an additional child with you! A very small carry-on bag for the adopted child is perfect!
- Preparing your child to board a plane for the first time: In most country programs where international adoptions take place, the flights are lengthy. You and your child are both going to be very tired from all of the processes leading up to this moment and fueling your bodies before getting on the plane will be important. Airplane food can be a struggle to eat when your bodies are jetlagged, fatigued, and craving your favorite foods. A great idea is to eat a filling meal right before you get to the airport or at the airport before boarding the plane if your child’s home country airport has a variety of options.
- Arriving at the airport: Double check your documents before walking into the airport. You will likely have to present adoption documents to immigration officers. Stay calm when walking through security and immigration. Your child will pick up on your body language! When you arrive at your gate, take a deep breath and relax until it is time to board. Take your child to look at the airplanes and jets through the window and explain what is about to happen!
- The flight: Your international flight will likely have a blanket, pillow, and headset to watch movies on the screen during the flight. Most children who have lived in institutions are not exposed to technology like in the United States. Therefore, the TV screen could be overwhelming for the child. Demonstrate how to use the headset to your child and show him/her that Mommy/Daddy can watch as well. The noises, smells, and new surroundings on the plane can cause anxiety in your child. Keeping the child occupied and entertained to distract him/her during take-off will be helpful! Hopefully, you and your child will be able to sleep during the flight but do not forget to eat! Keeping something on your stomachs will prevent nausea and headaches on both you and your child’s part.
- Arriving in the United States: This is the moment that you have been waiting for! Many adoptive families will have their close friends and family members waiting to greet them at the airport to celebrate and welcome you home. However, if you and your child are feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, it is completely okay to tell them. This is your child and your family! For your adoptive child, the airport will be a large, unknown place that will stimulate different parts of their brain. Please remember to hold your child’s hand or carry them (if able) when walking through the airport.
The journey home is a beautiful memory that you will cherish forever. At Carolina Adoption Services, our country program coordinators will be available for you throughout your travel for support, assistance, and any questions or concerns that you may have. This is YOUR family’s story and we are so privileged to play a small part in bringing your child home!