What to Pack for an Out-of-State Adoption

a year ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

When pursuing domestic infant adoption, it is not unusual for your child to be born in a different state than the one in which you live. Therefore, oftentimes adoptive parents find themselves traveling out-of-state to bring home their bundle of joy. As an adoption consultant, I get many questions about what adoptive parents should bring on their out-of-state journey and what items really aren’t necessary. Here are some key tips to help with your packing.

Pack to Stay for Awhile

The first thing you need to know when you are packing for adopting a baby out-of-state is that you will be staying there for a while. You will not be heading straight home after gaining custody of the baby at the hospital. There are many legal maneuverings with interstate adoption and one of them is the ICPC (Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children). The ICPC involves paperwork that needs to be completed and filed with both the state in which the baby is born and your home state. Only after both states approve it are you legally allowed to take the baby home. This usually occurs sometime between 2 and 15 business days after the baby is discharged from the hospital.

Comfort First


When you are packing for picking up baby, you want to put comfort first for everyone. If it’s important to you, pack nice outfits for the precious memories you are going to photograph when you first meet the baby and/or when you leave the hospital. Besides that, focus on comfort. Sweatpants, yoga pants and comfy t-shirts are all you are going to want to wear as you adjust to your baby’s schedule and try to catch some sleep whenever you can.

Of course, you also want to think of your baby’s comfort. Since you will be spending some time in temporary housing (a hotel room, a friend’s home or an AirBnB), you want your baby to have the same comforts he or she would have at home. Pack a swaddle blanket that is soft yet breathable. You can also consider a bassinet or foldable Pack ‘n Play but check first if your hotel has one to rent or if your AirBnB host has one available. It is also sweet to bring a special newborn-safe stuffed animal for your baby to cuddle with.  

Lastly, since you will be staying for a while, choose accommodations that have plenty of space and convenience. For instance, select a suite with a kitchenette including a microwave, sink, and refrigerator. Also consider a unit with a living room area so you and your partner can take turns caring for the baby at night in a separate space while the other one rests. AirBnB or HomeAway are great options that can provide you with plenty of space for less cost than a hotel room. If you explain your situation to the host, they’re often willing to be flexible with your unknown arrival and departure dates.


Baby Essentials


Since you won’t be bringing your baby directly home, you need to pack the baby essentials to care for your newborn while you are away. Of course the first thing you need is a car seat as no hospital will allow you to leave with the baby without one. You can either pack it and take it with you, buy one at your destination, or pre-order from a national chain and pick it up at your destination. Some other essentials that you will need include:

Baby bottles (you should hold off on formula until you know which brand the hospital is using)

Baby clothes (a few onesies and t-shirts will do)

Laundry detergent for babies or for sensitive skin

Blankets (soft swaddlers)

Diapers and wipes

Disposable trash bags for diapers

Changing pad

Diaper bag

Pacifiers (even if you don’t intend to use them, they’re good to have on hand as you never know if you might change your mind)

Burp clothes and washcloths

Bottle dish soap and drying rack

Stroller (this isn’t absolutely necessary but you’re going to want to go out rather than stay in a hotel room all the time. I suggest a lightweight foldable stroller frame into which you can just snap the car seat.)


Paperwork Organization

It is very important that you bring all relevant adoption paperwork with you and keep it organized. If you are traveling by plane, keep your paperwork with you in your carry-on so there is no risk of it being lost. It is also a good idea to make extra copies of important documents and to store digital versions in the cloud for easy access in case anything happens to your hard copies.

Adopting a baby from another state can seem overwhelming but being open to that option can be what leads you to your baby. With a little preparation, some savvy packing, and a healthy dose of patience, the out-of-state travel can go very smoothly. Once you’re back home, the hassle of traveling will quickly become a distant memory as you focus on the joy of life with your new child. 

Bio: Nicole Witt is the owner of The Adoption Consultancy (www.TheAdoptionConsultancy.com), an unbiased resource serving pre-adoptive families by providing them with the education, information and guidance they need to safely adopt a newborn, usually within three to 12 months.

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family baby travel

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