Saturday, September 24, 2011

Traveling with children

Adopted Child: Five Travel Tips

Thinking of traveling with a baby you just adopted?  Enjoy your trip and remain sane with these five tips for traveling with a baby.

1.  Flexibility.  Remember traveling with a baby takes planning, organization, and flexibility.  If this adopted child is your first baby, you will want to plan for longer stops, quick changes, frustrations, and challenges.  Learning to go with the flow, making last-minute adjustments, or just hanging out at the hotel will be part of your flexibility plan.  Remember, it’s the adults who will have to be flexible, children and babies are much too young to be told that dinner won’t be for another hour or to calm down and play for another hour when it’s her bed time.  It might be good to plan a contingency plan for sickness.  If your adoptedchild or baby gets sick, you will need access to a doctor or emergency care, your child will probably cry all the time, and you might have to cut the trip short. 

2.  Make it a “family-friendly” destination.  As parents of anadopted child, this experience is just as new for you as it is for your baby.  Planning an extended camping trip to the mountains where two or three families will be sharing the same tent will probably not work.  Look for places where you can relax, where you can change plans at a moment’s notice if your traveling child gets over-stimulated or tired.  It might be a good idea to find a beach side hotel, a motel close to the grandparents so you don’t have to worry that your child’s crying is keeping everyone up, a place with shade and that is cool yet sunny will help when traveling with your baby.  Crowded places where it is hard to keep an eye on your child or that could cause too much attention should be avoided.

3.  Food and water are a must.  Remember when traveling with your child snacks help during meals, but water is a must.  Make sure you keep a small cooler with bottled water for drinks as well as bottled water for making formula.  Planes or other types of transportation might not always have potable water available, so be prepared with cash to purchase bottled water.  Snacks for a baby could include a favorite kind of cookie, Melba toast, a bottle of baby food, some finger cereal, etc.  Be sure and get the kinds of foods your child likes and which won’t be smeared all over you and the child.  A trip is not a time to try new foods.

4.  Bring a goody backpack on the plane or in the car.  Newly adoptive parents might not know that as sure as you are traveling with your baby or child, you will need several changes of clothing—it never fails.  Bring 10 or more diapers depending on the travel time, you don’t want to run out and having a screaming baby with a burning bottom is not something a new adoptive parent wants to deal with.  Some of your child’s favorite toys should go into the backpack, maybe a lamb or toy that plays quiet music, perhaps a fuzzy blanket, or a teething ring. If traveling on a plane or bus where there are other people involved, make sure you have quiet toys.  You don’t want to annoy all the other travelers.  Remember to utilize toys in bright colors to help your child focus and turn his attention from crying or whining. 

5.  Take practice trips.  A marathon trip right after your get your adopted child is not a good idea.  However, if you are adopting internationally, you won’t have the option of a practice trip, your first trip will be exceptionally long.  But if you have the time, go in the car for an hour or two, take a short plane ride to a neighboring destination, go for an hour hike near your home, or try a short bike ride.  Each trip will give you more information for your longer trips and help you when you want to plan for a longer trip.  You’ll want to make notes on how your baby or child reacts to different settings, how comfortable she was sleeping away from his crib, and how easily he adapted to different eating and sleeping rituals. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Adoption Financing Tips

In your thinking about adoption, here are some great ideas to help you with potential adoption costs.  Remember, however, before you begin any fundraising activity, contact your accountant or CPA so that you are sure to follow all the IRS rules pertaining to adoption cost fundraising.  You don't want to end up with taxes due or in trouble with the IRS later.

  1. As you think big and maybe make more money than you need for your adoption, you should have a contingency plan to donate excess money to someone else who is adopting via an adoption charity.
  2. The personal letter asking for help.  Never underestimate the value of personal contacts when trying to raise adoption costs.  Politicians often use the personal letter in raising money for election campaigns and you shouldn't hesitate to do so either.  

  3. The personal touch is always the best way.  You don't have to ask for a lot of money from one individual, let people decide what amount they want or can give.  When writing your personal letter, you are not asking for "charity" but for help in your quest to adopt a child.  Begin your letter  by identifying yourself and your dream, let your reader know that you understand that having children is an expensive proposition, but explain the adoption costs are needed in one lump sum.  Let them know that while you are more than willing to meet those expenses, it would be helpful and kind for them to help you whatever way they can, a $5, $10 or more donation.  Be sure and thank them for their help and support.  Even if they can't give a donation ask for their thoughts and prayers during this adoption process.  

  4. Make sure you keep track of all those you sent adoption costs donations and be sure and write a thank you to each individual, business, or group.  It might be a good idea to send out an announcement with a picture of your child when you get him to each of those who donated.

  5. The adoption concert is another way to help with adoption costs.  If you know a popular singer, piano player, or musical artist of any kind, you might see if she'll do an adoption benefit concert for you.  Again the personal touch is extremely helpful here.  Find someone who knows someone, that's your best bet.  If you're doing a Nevada or Utah adoption you will find many prominent and second tier artists who are more than willing to lend their name to a benefit.  You might even get lucky with an enormously famous person, if you write your invitation letter the right way.  Your artist might be more than willing to do your adoption costs benefit for free if they are close by or for travel costs only if they come from out of town.  Remember, however, planning an adoption concert event takes some careful planning before you even get your talent.  You will need a date and venue.  Sometimes the venue will donate use for a minimal cleaning fee, or at least at a very low cost.  You may need to come up with some front money to make everything come together, don't take out a loan, though.  Your adoption concert advertising should be low cost:  flyers, newspaper articles, postings on Facebook, blogging, special letters to friends, emails.  Don't hesitate to let everyone know the date, time and place of your event.  Plan the date so it doesn't conflict with other major events such as holidays, sporting events, etc.

  6. The adoption golf tournament or bowling tournament are excellent tools to help you reach your adoption costs goals.  For these types of tournaments, you will need to work with a golf course or bowling alley.  Perhaps they will be willing to sponsor the event but you will probably need to make part of the suggested donation enough to cover green fees or bowling games.  Contact local businesses to invite them to give prizes, many will be more than willing to do so for a little advertising in your program or advertising or a listing as a tournament sponsor.  If you know someone who owns a car dealership, see if you can get a new car (think big), if you don't think big, nothing will happen.  Remember though you're your advertising of this type of adoption event is crucial to a successful financial outcome.  You will need to set a registration deadline at least four or five days in advance, so the golf course can have tee times ready or bowling alley can schedule the lanes.  Don't be afraid to set deadlines.  Again, advertise on Facebook, emails, blogs, texts, tweets, your company web page, and other company web pages if they'll let you.

  7. The great American adoption yard sale is a sure fire way to have a fun time while you earn that needed adoption money.  Yard sales are best planned at least a month in advance so you can get your advertising out to the public.  While you'll use the same advertising avenues as a golf tournament or concert, you will want to add an additional posting in the garage sale columns of your local newspapers.  Don't hesitate to ask neighbors and friends for new or slightly used items to sell.  Keep the quality high and the market a gold mine for those garage sale bargain shoppers.   You might ask businesses to donate a new item or two to add interest to your adoption yard sale advertising and to get some higher donations for your treasured items.  You might even have some of your items marked in some way so that you can give out door prices to people who come to buy:  a certificate for a dozen donuts, a six pack of pop, a coupon for a hamburger, etc.  These types of things make the day cheerful and make for a fun gathering and increased buying. 

  8. It wouldn't hurt to have cold bottled water (donated, of course) on hand for those adoption yard sale shoppers.  The best garage sales are for just one day, Saturday.   Many adoption garage sale  goers are dedicated to beginning shopping early, so plan on a 7 or 8 am schedule and should be done by one or two pm at the latest.  You want to get your buyers in and out. Serious shoppers will begin shopping early, but if everyone understands that ALL the money raised will be used for your adoption costs, many will be inclined to buy a little extra or donate more.  You can either price everything, or set things on certain tables for certain prices, or just have folks donate what they can to help.  Yes, you might get a few "greedy" folks, but on the whole, people are more than willing to shell out a little extra for a good cause, and what better cause than your adoption costs.  Leftovers?  You might save unsold items for six months and hold a second sale or give the extra goods to a charity
I hope this adoption advice on home studies proves useful to you and your family. Whether you are considering an international adoption agency or a domestic adoption, look for an adoption agency who can help point you in the right direction for securing the financing you need.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Planning Now

As your adoption process either begins are gets closer to completion, you need to continue your study and learning about adoptions.

You can follow me on Twitter at!/Adoptionadvice, Facebook , or with my articles in

Look for helpful information and ideas.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Adoptive mother’s intuition

It’s an interesting phenomenon that any adoptive parent can claim:  “mother knows best”.  Sometimes those in the know “scoff” at a mother who says, “There’s something wrong with my child,” and the doctor has checked him over and finds nothing.  But in actuality, “a mother knows” is an absolute fact.  Any parent who has gone through an adoption will tell you a parent knows the cries of their adopted children, the behaviors of their children and even the misbehaviors of their adopted children.  As newly adoptive parents, you have these same rights and feelings.  You can just “know” when something isn't right, just by watching, listening, and caring for your newly adopted child.  Here are some ideas to help you feel comfortable with your knowledge of your adopted child.

Listen for the cry.  Infants adopted or not, are able to let you know their problems or concerns through their cries.  With my first child, I didn’t recognize this fact for quite some time, and when I did it was like someone turned on a light bulb.  My son would cry a certain way if he was hungry, cry another way if his pants were dirty and cry a third way when he had a stomach ache or hurt somewhere.  While it will take any new parent including those adopting, practice and listening, after a few days you’ll be able to tell the difference.

Know the child’s stages of development.  While every adopted child grows and matures at very different rates (my three year old grandson is the same height and weight as a normal five year old), you can get some clues as to how your child should be developing by reading and studying development information.  Look for eye tracking, contentment (not crying all the time), ability to sleep well, etc.  After six children I thought I knew everything, come to find out I did know something.  My little baby didn’t seem to be tracking me with his eyes like he should have been doing.  After several days, I began to worry so I took him to the doctor.  The doctor checked him over and said light was getting into the eye like it should but he’d always learned through his 30 years of being a pediatrician to listen to the mother.  He made me an appointment with a pediatric eye specialist for the very next week—he knew I was very worried my boy was blind.  After testing, the specialist said, yes, he did have a rare disease called albinism, but because he also found that the same condition, he felt my child’s brain would be able to compensate for the condition like mine has done, and he would see just fine, but would probably wear glasses as he also had astigmatism.  My son’s brain did compensate for the sight problem, but he began wearing glasses in first grade.  

Don’t let the doctor tell you not to worry.  I don’t know how many times other doctors have told me “don’t worry your child is fine”, when my child hasn’t been fine.  As a newly adoptive parent you will know if there is something wrong.  Don’t hesitate to push the doctor to check for problems or make changes in the formula (if the baby is continually throwing up or crying over a stomach ache),   If your child is pulling at her ears it might mean an ear infection or a headache.  If your newly adopted child’s behavior changes abruptly for seemingly no reason at all remember, there IS a reason.  See if your child has some health concerns, if there is something going on right before the change, or if there might be a mental or emotional issue.  I remember when I was young and my mother would say, “There must be something wrong with you, you cry all the time.”  There was something wrong (but that was before they had anti-depressants and anxiety medications—I had severe PMS.

Trust your feelings and impressions, you’re the parent of a newly adopted child and will know.  Listen to your heart.  

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Children of all ages love to camp

Recently Ive been writing some articles on Zions National Park near Springdale Utah.  There is something wonderful about planning a family vacation, especially with your new little adopted child.  While camping out might not be your favorite thing to do, Zion Park lodging establishments offer some exciting amenities along with cabins (with running water), food (not cooked over the open flame), and comfortable beds.  If this is your first adopted child, depending on age, you might want to consider indoor, RV, or one of the many Zion Park lodgings rather than tent camping.  Here are five ideas to focus on for your family vacation to Zion Park:  Crying baby, tired parents, sunshine, packing, and enjoying the vacation.

Crying baby.  Since this is your first child, you will be more aware if the baby is crying at night.  While your daughter’s yelps or tears might not bother too many people, you need to be aware that if you are tent camping close to others, it may bother your camping neighbors at Zion Park.  Perhaps you might want to make reservations at a motel, hotel, or Zion Park lodging area with individual rooms where a crying baby won’t bother others and won’t worry you.  Also, someone else’s crying baby might wake yours.

Tired parents.  Remember, adoption is a life changing experience where a parent goes from a regular routine of sleeping and living to a mixed up, changing, and challenging lifestyle.  If this is your first child, or even if it’s not, you might want to splurge and get a lodging where you can have showers, make sure the children are in one place where you can keep an eye on them, and get a better night’s sleep on a real bed and not in a sleeping bag placed on rocks.

Sunshine.  A trip to Zions Park is going to have plenty of sunshine and heat if you go in the summer months.  Babies need careful protection and lots of sun block to protect their sensitive skin.  Make sure they are covered up and shaded on those Zion Park trails, even if they are in the stroller.

Packing.  A good rule of thumb when taking your first trip with your baby or adopted child is to prepare.  Children will go through more clothing than you’ll think possible, a Zion Park lodging area, RV, or commercial tent campground usually has access to laundry facilities when you’ve run out of clean clothing.  Springdale Utah also has many mini-marts and grocery stores where you can pick up the items you’ve run out of or forget.

Enjoying the vacation.  Your vacation with your newly adopted baby or child can and should be an enjoyable experience.  Be flexible.  By learning all you can about Zion National Park, you’ll find the park has great hiking trails designed for your stroller, has a scenic route shuttle bus tour, and park ranger activities for the young and old.  You’ll have a wonderful experience visiting Zions Park this summer if you just plan ahead. 

For more vacation information, check out my articles below:

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ethiopian adoption travel packing tips

You are about to plan your arrangements to finalize your Ethiopian adoption travel.  You’ve gotten your itinerary and legal documents from your Ethiopian adoption agency.  Now you just need to pack your Ethiopian adoption travel bags.  Some questions you should ask yourself are:  How long will be there?  What type of clothing should we bring to wear, what temperature should we pack for, and what kinds of clothing and toys will we need for our Ethiopian adoption child at the hotel or the plane when we take our Ethiopian adoption travel back to the U.S?  Should I take several bags for each individual traveling and coming home, or should I take just one for both of us?  All these Ethiopian adoption travel questions will rush through your mind.  Here are five Ethiopian adoption travel packing tips for the new parents.

1.           How long will we be gone?  You will need to plan for two Ethiopian adoption travel trips.  Your first trip will be for five to 10 days.  This will be a good time to take notes on what not to take and what to take when you return for your second visit.  During your first Ethiopian adoption travel visit you will learn first hand about the cities, the food, the places to stay and will have a greater understanding of the terrain, the Ethiopian adoption agency orphanage where your child is located.  Your Ethiopian adoption agency will have introduced you to your child and you will be able to begin your bonding process by visiting the orphanage to spend time with your child as you meet with Ethiopian adoption and court officials. If your child’s parents are living, you may have a chance to visit with them and learn more about your child’s heredity.  However, while you may stay in an Ethiopian adoption agency village the first time, you may stay in a hotel on your second visit.  Your second Ethiopian adoption stay could also be from five to 10 days. 
2.           During my Ethiopian adoption travel visits what is the climate like so I can prepare.  Ethiopia’s climate is called tropical monsoon, but the country has a wide rage of topographic variations, with changing temperatures.  The year-round climate ranges from 41 to 77 degrees depending on which part of the country you are in.  The Highlands are usually cooler than the areas of the country closer to the Equator.  The heavy monsoons (rains) occur from June to September.  But even during the rainy seasons, Ethiopia is sunny about 60% of the day. 
3.           During our Ethiopian adoption travel will our child get to stay with us at the hotel?  Usually for your first visit, you will want to stay in the Ethiopian adoption agency villages.  You will need to check with your Ethiopian adoption agency about its policy in this area.  While it is sometimes approved by the courts, many “on the street” Ethiopians may resent a white family taking “one of their children.”  If you are allowed to have the child with you at the hotel, you may not want to “parade” the fact by walking around the city.  Try to be sensitive to the residents of Ethiopia.  Rather than stay in the hotel, it might prove a better idea to stay at the Ethiopian adoption agency villages where you can visit and walk without reserve.
4.           For my Ethiopian adoption travel how many bags should we pack for each adult?  Packing less for your trip is always better. There aren’t dry cleaning establishments on every corner or in the Ethiopian adoption agency villages, so take wash and wear for everything.  Ethiopian adoption travel requires an umbrella and rain slicker.  Next into your Ethiopian adoption travel bag should go a booklet to keep a diary of your trip, your feelings, your ups and downs and your worries.  Two or three shirts, pants and underwear should be sufficient.  You can wear one, rinse one out at night, and then have a spare for an emergency if you get soaked or spill something on yourself.  Women may want to take one wash and wear skirt and men a tie for the court appearance, but check with your Ethiopian adoption agency to see if more formal wear is needed.  You will want a paperback book or two for down time reading, and a snack sack for the midnight munchies.  It would also be wise to take two to three pairs of good walking shoes that match your clothing.  All these things should fit in one large, or two small bags.  Be sure you have plastic bags for your shoes.
5.    How many bags should I pack for our child’s Ethiopian adoption travel home?  Whether or not your Ethiopian adoption child can stay with you at the hotel during your Ethiopian adoption travel depends on the Ethiopian adoption agency and the government’s Ethiopian adoption whims at the moment you are there.  Your Ethiopian adoption agency will have up to the minute information and advise you if you will need to bring clothing for the child.  Two to three outfits per child for the Ethiopian adoption travel trip home should be sufficient, unless you've adopted a baby or a non-toilet-trained child, and then you will need seven to 10 outfits.  For any travel and especially for Ethiopian adoption travel, be sure to bring at least 10 diapers for each day you will be staying with your child or traveling on the plane.  For the Ethiopian adoption travel plane trip home, you will want small snacks and different toys to switch around every time your child needs something to keep her attention.  During Ethiopian adoption travel it might be a good idea to bring a variety of soft blankets for snuggling, and perhaps a soft musical toy to encourage sleep.  You will probably need a LARGE Ethiopian adoption travel suitcase for your child and carry-on size bag to take with you on the plane.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Adoption Program: 10 questions to ask

Each year hundreds more children are added to the roles of children without families either in foster care, orphanages, or with mothers who for one reason or another cannot care and nurture the child.  Adoption is one way many of these children can be helped by being placed with a loving, caring family who will help them succeed.  But the first step in any adoption in Utah or any place else is to ensure families begin an adoption program by understanding just why they want an adoption in the first place and is an adoption in Utah really a viable consideration.  There are as many reasons why someone would want to participate in an adoption in Utah as there are people. Below are ten important adoptions in Utah questions to understand before you begin an adoption program.

1. Why am I looking at an adoption in Utah? There is no right or wrong reasons for adoption.  Perhaps you or your spouse cannot have children for some medical reason, perhaps you take medications that would cause injury to a baby, perhaps you are older or you just want to share your love and home with a child.  Reasons are varied, but you should look deep inside yourself and make sure you, not just your spouse, but you, really want to proceed with an adoption in Utah.
2. Research is vital in helping you decide if you want an adoption in Utah?  Never go into an adoption program blind. Information is power and you want to understand and know all you can before you ever begin your adoption program.  There are many books, some brutally honest, about adoption, you can find information about adoption on the internet, and you can find information specific to adoption in Utah on the Internet.  It might also be wise to contact someone who has recently gone through an adoption and ask them about the pros and cons and their feelings on adoption.
3. Do my husband and I have the type of home that would be a good fit for an adoption?  If you are a clean “freak”, you might want to understand that babies and children make messes, break things, and wear things out. Do you have enough room?  If you are looking at a trans-racial adoption, do you live in a neighborhood where your child will be accepted?  Do you have a heart that can overcome careless and unkind words, rude and hurtful neighbors and friends?
4. Am I willing to change my entire lifestyle and focus to adopt a child?  Remember any baby or child can interrupt your sleep patterns, get sick, have medical concerns, have emotional concerns and struggles, have times when they are cranky, and need constant care and love.  Adoption children sometimes take over your life like using the money you wanted to spend on a cruise for a new piano or football gear.
5. Do we have the proper finances for an adoption in Utah?  Money isn’t everything, but paying out $20,000 or $30,000 upfront for an adoption in Utah can stretch even the most well-meaning couple’s finances.  If you are hesitant to spend that amount, will you later regret it when your child wrecks your new car, or has kept you up all night for days at a time?  Make sure you are not more attached to your money than you are to the gift of love you are going to share with a new baby or child.
6. Is your health good enough for you to have the stamina and/or can you actually care for a child?  An adoption baby or child is a 24/7, 365 day and night job.  You will be the parent whether you are deathly ill and the child gets sick too, needs diaper changing, needs driving to school and home, or even needs a little love.  Do you have outside resources to help when these times arrive?  While you may be working full time, you and your spouse are the caregivers; you will have to have the emotional and physical ability to care for the baby or child even after a hard day at work.
7. What are some of the concerns our adoption child will have?  Some children come with good medical backgrounds, others have nothing.  It is important to understand the basics about attachment difficulties either by you, the adoption parents or by the adoption child.  You may want to talk with a counselor and see what red flags to look for with attachment disorders from the adoption child that signify difficulties. Will you want your adoption program to include a handicapped or other special needs child and are you prepared for these challenges.
8. Will you be competent to handle a child with health issues?  Sometimes adoption parents will receive little or no information on health concerns or issues with babies and/or children.  Adoptions in Utah, whether international or from another state cannot guarantee perfectly health, non-genetic concern children.  Some genetic concerns won’t show up until the child is older, some problems like propensities to ear infections and the inability to utilize antibiotics will show up much sooner.  Be sure your adoption program makes allowances for the event that every child will have one kind or another health issue.
9. Can our adoption program include a trans-racial child?  This is a very sensitive and challenging decision for any parent, whether black, white or any person of color.  Don’t be afraid to make choices in your adoption program if you feel so inclined.  Don’t feel forced to adopt any race of child if you don‘t feel you can give the proper amount of love, just to get a child.  Adoption is forever and these are very important decisions.
10. Will we be able to love our adoption child?  If you find you have a hard time making commitments, expressing love, challenges reaching out to others, it’s not all going to disappear just because you have an adoption program and adopt a child.  It might be wise to get some individual and family counseling before completing your adoption program so that you can understand yourself and how you will “bond” with a new child.  Adoption does not ensure “bonding”, and if you are going to participate in an adoption program, you are not only going to want to allow time for bonding, but emotionally able to bond with your child.  Know yourself, don’t just guess.