preparations

While we await news of a court date, we’re doing what we can to prepare for our first trip. We may get as little as one week of notice (although it seems like most families get about three weeks of notice), so to avoid as much utter panic as I can (realizing that utter panic will surely be unavoidable), I am pulling out my Type A, slightly OCD personality and milking it for all it’s worth at this point. I’m making a plan, and I’ve got a master list of things to do that somehow keeps getting longer, even while I’m crossing a few things off.

We got our travel vaccines on Tuesday, which is our first major accomplishment. We chose to follow the CDC’s recommendations. Two days later, I still have a 2″ sore and inflamed welt on my upper arm from the Yellow Fever vaccine. But it’s better than actually getting Yellow Fever, so I won’t complain. (Much.)

Yesterday we got our passports back from the Ethiopian Embassy, complete with visas that allow us to legally enter and stay in the country. It’s a little nervewracking sending your passports away when you’re anticipating needing them for very important international travel in the near future, but since Ethiopia just stopped issuing visas in-country, it was the only option. I’m glad to have them back in our possession.

We’re also working on preparing for making travel plans. (Yes, I am making a plan so we can make plans.) We have decided to use a travel agent familiar with Ethiopian adoption trips, as we figure it’s one less thing we’ll have to do and we can rely on some expert advice in planning a major trip on short notice. Craig’s stepmom has generously offered us some frequent flier miles, so we’re pulling all of that information together so we’re ready to hand that over to the travel agent when the time comes. Using the miles may or may not work based on availability, partner airlines, dates, and everything else, but we’ll definitely give it a shot! We also have credit card miles from ourselves and from my mom that will probably cover the cost of airfare for one trip, so that will be extremely helpful, expense-wise.

We also need to prepare a small photo album for Baby K. We will include 6-8 photos of us, our house, and our dogs, and the nannies will show it to her and talk with her about us. I think the albums are probably wonderful for older kids, so they can see their new family members, where they’ll live, and so on, and it’s a little odd to think about this for a baby as young as Baby K, but we know that any time she is held and read to and talked to about us will be good for her. We need to work on taking some photos of ourselves as we don’t have many recent ones to choose from. I have approximately five million photos of our dogs, but not all that many of them with us in the photos – so that’s an assignment, too, since photos with us show they are friendly.

I’ve started a bit of a packing list – but really it’s more of a list of things we need to purchase for our trip, little things like mosquito repellent with DEET and packets of  electrolyte replacement drink mix. I’d like to get a new hat for shade since we’ll be near the Equator and at 8000 feet elevation. (That reminds me to check our sunscreen supply as well.) We’ve got prescriptions for antibiotics and anti-malarials to be called in and picked up. I’d like to find a long skirt to wear to our court date, and I don’t ever wear long skirts. So, at the moment, this list is just of things like that. A real packing list will come at some point, but I’m not there yet. I’m still making lists of things I need to make lists of, you know?

Also, something I haven’t put a lot of thought into yet is what sort of donations we’d like to take with us for the orphanage and care center. We plan to take a bag or bin of things with us, and I’d like to purchase things there, too, to support the local economy. We cannot give money as it could be seen as bribery, but we want to support the places that have cared for Baby K and so many other children in times of need. More on that coming soon.

So, that’s what we’re working on. We haven’t even gotten to preparations for bringing Baby K home, as we feel that’s getting ahead of ourselves – plus, who has time for that when we’ve got all of this to do?

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15 Responses to preparations

  1. Kyra says:

    Hi Kelly,
    In addition to the photo album, you can print out a larger (8×10) photo of yourselves and laminate it. Once Baby K is at Horizon House, the nannies will put the photo right over her crib. Most of the babies we saw there had a photo over their crib.

  2. Meg B says:

    Try not to stress out and enjoy the preparation a bit. (not that I took my own advice of course!) And don’t overpack clothes for yourself…I did and was much wiser on the second trip. The key is to wear layers and try to get as much sleep as possible! I am so excited for you! We made our photo album online (Kodak Gallery) and had an extra copy made for each of our kids (in case they get lost or damaged in Ethiopia you will have a copy at home). our kids still enjoy looking at theirs. =)

    • Kelly says:

      We plan on making a duplicate to have at home. Same with the album we’ll make for the birth family. And yeah, I’m a terrible over-packer. I need to really reign in my packing for these trips, I know!

  3. Alan says:

    Xiao Ya still loves her photo album — it was the only possession she was able to take back with her from the group foster care home. I’ve seen other families with this model as well, because it’s durable and soft:

    http://www.amazon.com/Sassy-80021-Look-Photo-Book/dp/B002J4U8L6/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1334926315&sr=8-2

  4. I didn’t know this the first time around, but am learning something from a new FB group I belong to. There are “humanitarian” travel agents out there. Not on the list that WHFC gave us. I was told to still shop around, but they can often find better deals. Send me a quick message on FB and I will put you in touch with them if you are interested 🙂
    Also, its likely that you are going to travel during rainy season (we traveled in June). If that is the case, no need to worry about sun block and hats 🙂 Seriously, it was overcast for the most part, and it poured every afternoon. I loved it though…to hear the sound of rain pinning off the tin roof is pretty cool!
    Strangely enough, our kids albums never made it to HH, so they (worse, as older kids) never saw our picture til they met us the first day. They talk about it to this day (how scared they were), so, regardless of her age, I think its great that the HH nannies will share pictures of you and Craig with her (I would be much less concerned about the dogs now, however, I think it is important for you to include pics of the 4 of you in her birth family album for your visit with them).
    Like you, I don’t wear long skirts. But, like you, I did bring 3 to ET. I bought them at Old Navy. Very inexpensive! Maybe $20 each? I wore one to court and one to the birth family meeting.
    I made the mistake of buying a ton of donations very early on (couldn’t help myself)….as you get closer, I think WHFC will provide you with a list of what they are in need of (usually diapers and formula, if I remember correctly).
    I have been having problems posting on blogs, so just in case, I am going to copy and send it to you on FB too!
    Congrats again. I am so incredibly excited for you and Craig!!!!!

  5. Molly says:

    Oh, my gosh, you are so organized! I feel like I’m in such a holding pattern it’s hard to do anything–the opposite reaction, I suppose. 🙂 I really like the idea of a laminated picture–that’s a great idea. I’m glad you are using air miles–2 trips can really add up. It’s all so exciting!

  6. Karlie says:

    Kelly!
    So exciting. I am going to take my lead from you and start making lists as well since I’m not that organized! Would love to get the name of your travel agent. Hope you get your court date ASAP 😉

  7. christinek0409 says:

    I love how organized you are! I enjoy reading about all that you have to do before travel. You’ve got so many great plans and ideas!

  8. kwatkinsinfl says:

    Ditto what everyone else said. We registered for the things on the WHFC donation list at Target and when people asked us what they could do, we directed them there. We ended up with more than we could take on the first trip. I’m so excited for you guys who are traveling soon – such an exciting time!

  9. kwatkinsinfl says:

    Forgot to mention…I also got a long skirt at Old Navy. On sale for $5.98! I was very proud of myself.

  10. 12450miles says:

    This is such an exciting post to read!!! EEEEK!!! Not that you asked for advice, but if you haven’t gotten photos of you with the dogs yet, you can do this yourself with the “interval timer” on the Nikon. MUCH easier than having to run back and forth. You know my number if you need me to walk you through that! 🙂 And as for sun protection… while it sounds like you may be there in rainy season, I also recommend looking at clothes with UV protection in them. I’m thinking EddieBauer, etc might have some nice options? Have fun shopping! 🙂

  11. Emily Casper says:

    I was going to suggest something similar to the Sassy photo book that Alan posted. Those things are great for babies because they can put them in their mouths safely and they are easily cleaned and the pictures can’t get to wet! 🙂 Add to your packing list comfortable walking shoes that aren’t tennis shoes! 🙂 So excited for you!

  12. michelleoryl says:

    A photo album is by far the best thing you can give your child. I was so excited when we received a picture of Colin holding our album we made for him. I am trying to remember back when we went to Tanzania…all those same shots. Ugh. Whole Foods starting selling packets to make coconut water which I think is better than a lot of the replacement drinks on the market. It can be found near the regular coconut water. It sounds like you may need a trip to REI to get some clothes that has repellant and/or sunscreen in it. The ExOfficio stuff is good and I just picked up some cute skirts from our trip to REI in Seattle. Great stuff for packing down and can be easily washed etc.

  13. Kelly says:

    So much to do! But I know these are lists you don’t mind making … and indeed have been waiting and waiting to make 🙂 Thanks for taking us along in your preparation journey. It’s so fun!

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