Many private domestic infant adoptions happen across state lines these days. We live in California, but our son was born in Missouri and our daughter in Louisiana. When adopting from another state, the paperwork required for the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) paperwork can take anywhere from three to ten business days to be completed. Often, new parents must spend the first week or more of their baby’s life in a hotel room. We spent 18 days in Missouri and 16 days in Louisiana.
Choosing the proper accommodations is another post entirely. Briefly, I highly recommend choosing a hotel that offers suites, including a separate living and sleeping area and a kitchen with a full sink, stove, and refrigerator. Find a location that is near the necessary stores—in my world, that’s the store with the big red circles logo and the store with the purple letters. We actually booked a suite across the parking lot from them our second time around. Very convenient.
General Packing Tips:
- Bring more clothes than you think you need, for everyone, including yourselves.
- Bring a pair of shorts, even in the winter. Hotel rooms and halls can be overheated.
- Bring slippers to walk around in, so you don’t have to put on shoes to go down to breakfast.
- Always buy at least 1 or 2 premie sized outfits, as well as 1 or 2 newborn outfits, before the baby is born. A small baby will swim in a 0-3 month outfit.
- Remember that it is best to wash clothing and towels before using them.
- Remember that bottles, nipples, and rings need to be sterilized (boiled) before their first use. However, they need not be sterilized before every use. (Glass bottles are the best!)
- Bring anything that you think you can’t live without.
- Don’t bring a ton of books thinking you’ll have time to read. You will spend an inordinate amount of time staring at the baby. Three or four books, tops.
- The hospital should send baby home with enough formula samples to last a few days. However, if you plan to use organic formula, bring some with you.
- Ask the hospital for free samples and coupons. (Unless your hospital is hostile, like the one in which my daughter was born.)
- If you’ll be flying, you may want to just buy what you need in the other location. You can even have items shipped to your hotel, if need be.
- Remember, you can always ship home whatever you buy there that you can’t carry.
- YOU WILL NEED A MEDICAL RELEASE TO FLY WITH AN INFANT UNDER 2 WEEKS OLD! (Remind me to tell you the story of how we almost got arrested bringing our son home.)
What to Pack:
- Baby bath product travel-size pack (note that conventional brands contain ingredients that are harsh for baby’s skin).
- Baby carrier, such as a ring sling, mei tai, or Bjorn
- Blankets, at least 1 for each day you think you’ll be in the hotel
- Bottles (glass bottles are the best)
- Burp cloths—lots and lots (washcloths work well and are much cheaper)
- Camera (Some people recommend buying more memory for a digital camera, or taking one or more disposable cameras in case the conditions aren’t good for digital photography.)
- Cell phone
- Diaper bag
- Gifts for birth parents/family (but ask your attorney first!)
- Hand sanitizer (non-alcohol based, such as Clean Well)
- Hats (2-3, climate dependent)
- Hooded towel (1-2)
- Journal (recommended by many, though I didn’t have time to journal too much)
- Laptop computer (make sure your hotel offers free Wi-Fi!)
- Nightgowns (2-3, then buy more if necessary)
- Onesies (at least 5)
- Pacifiers (2-3, newborn size)
- Reference books (1-2) about babies (“Hey, is that normal? Oh, yeah, the book says it is.”)
- Sleepers (1 for each day, bring 1-2, then buy more when you know what size to get)
- Socks & booties (1 pair for each day you plan to venture out of the hotel)
- Toys (3 or 4 simple ones, like a rattle, keys, or mirror)
- Undershirts that snap up the side (at least 5)
- Wipes holder
What to Buy There:
- Bottle brush
- Car seat
Note: Some people say rent one, but it may be cheaper to buy. Some hospitals provide car seats for a donation. If you bring an empty car seat on a plane to the location, you will get a lot of questions. (Been there, done that.)
- Changing pad, or quilted multi-use pads
- Cloth inserts for baby’s head in the car seat, if needed (buy after baby is born, but before you take him “home”)
- Diapers (we used gDiapers at home, but just used disposables in the hotel)
- Food for parents
- Kitchen towels (to use specifically for drying bottles, 3)
- Laundry detergent
- Newspaper on the baby’s birthday
- Travel crib (some suggest renting from the hotel, but I think it’s important that a sleeping surface be clean)
- Ziploc bags or wet bags (for dirty diapers, dirty outfits, or to keep clean outfits clean)
What Not to Pack or Buy:
These were all items that we did bring and found to be completely unnecessary.
- Bibs (newborns don’t need them)
- Complicated baby carriers (make sure you know how to use whatever carrier you have)
- Cotton balls (totally useless)
- Grooming set (again, not terribly useful for newborns)
- Crib sheets (they don’t really fit the travel cribs well)
- Gas drops
- Vaseline (this doesn’t belong anywhere near a baby’s skin and you really don’t need it anyway)