Whether you have to go to the next street over, halfway across the country, or halfway across the world, this is the time you travel to bring your child home.
As I said in the last step: Research hotels in your destination city. Instead of using the hotel’s web site, call the hotel directly. I talked to the manager of a particular hotel for half an hour, explaining that we weren’t quite sure when we’d be there. She was able to get us a flexible registration in the height of college football season. She also gave us a two-bedroom suite for the price of a one-bedroom suite. If you may have to travel at a moment’s notice, try calling the airlines and talking to a person to explain your situation. We were able to get a major airline to waive its change fee for our travel to and from the state where our daughter was born.
Travel expenses can easily be the second-largest part of your budget. Try to stay in a hotel where you can cook your own meals—bonus points if they offer breakfast or “happy hour.” If you’re adopting internationally, your agency may try to have a group of parents travel together.
If you travel internationally, your agency will likely provide you with a list of items to bring. If you travel domestically, you have more leeway. Generally speaking, bring only the necessities. Most cities and suburbs have your favorite major retailers, so you can always buy stuff there if you find you need it.
If you have other children at home, you need to decide what to do with them: bring them with you or leave them at home? We chose to leave our 5-year-old son at home with his grandparents. He was in kindergarten, and we didn’t know how long we’d be in Louisiana. It made me crazy to be away from him for so long, but his presence would have complicated things. Handling a newborn in a hotel is hard enough. Handling a newborn and one or more other children? I can’t imagine it. So, in domestic adoption, unless you have someone who can come and help out in the new child’s city, I would recommend finding a way to leave your other children at home. On the other hand, if you are adopting internationally, I know many families have found that bringing their current child(ren), as well as a friend or relative, has helped their new children acclimate to the family.
In private domestic adoption, there is always the chance that the new mother will choose to parent. In that case, you go back to step six and wait and hope some more. The Adoptive Families Cost and Timing Survey indicates that many families have one false start before finding the match that results in bringing home their child.
In international adoption, a country may close between the time you get your referral and are able to travel. If this happens, your agency should be able to help you sort out the possibilities. Often, children who have been referred are allowed to be adopted, but sometimes they are not.
In foster adoption, even legally free children may not, ultimately, be placed with you for adoption. They may have other family members step up at the last minute, or you may find that the children are not a good fit for your family.
If a match or referral does fail, allow yourself time to grieve your loss. Only you can decide when you will be ready to get back in the pool again.