When you adopt a child internationally, how are travel plans made? Do you make them or are they arranged through an adoption agency?
Specifics vary by agency, but I believe that the most common arrangement is as follows:
1. The agency validates thaf all paperwork is done according to U.S., foreign country, and (if appropriate) Hague requirements.
2. The agency contacts the foreign adoption authority to set a date for meeting the child, going to court, etc.
3. The agency contacts the U.S. Embassy in the foreign country to set a date and time for the child's visa appointment, based on when the adoption has been finalized or a decree of guardianship has been given and the child is free to leave the country. The agency will also schedule the visa medical exam, which has to take place at a clinic approved by the Embassy.
4. The agency tells the family by what date it needs to be in the foreign city. The family may choose any airline it wishes to use and books the necessary flights. In some cases, the agency may suggest airlines or travel agencies, and occasionally may have access to discounted fares
5. The agency arranges with a travel agency or contractor in the foreign country to meet the flight when it arrives in the country and to provide a driver and guide/translator for the duration of the trip.
6. In many cases, the agency, working with the foreign travel agency, books hotels in the cities that the family stays in -- usually one in the child's province and one in the country's capital. However, in other cases, the family may make its own hotel plans.
7. For most meals, families will be on their own. They can eat in the hotel, in the neighborhood, etc. Some hotels have a breakfast buffet included in the room rate.
8. The guides and drivers can recommend a sightseeing schedule for times when you won't be doing something adoption related. Feel free to ask for changes, especially if your child is ill or grieving, or uf any of the options seem too expensive.
9. Once the Embassy formalities are completed, the guide is responsible for getting the family onto the homeward flight
It is important for a family to discuss any specific travel concerns it may have before signing on with an adoption agency. As an example, some agencies push for the cheapest hotels, while others want new families to have the best possible accommodations. And really scared travelers may want one of the few agencies that sends a representative along on the overseas flight. If you will need Kosher food, a wheelchair, or some other accommofation, it will be important to find an agency known for its handling of these issues.
Again, some agencies may do things differently. And in some countries, there may be options such as staying with a local family or in a serviced apartment. Remember that some countries also require more than one trip.
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