Business or pleasure? That’s the first question people generally ask about an upcoming trip. Your answer gives them a reasonable range of responses, for they understand the parameters associated with both business trips and pleasurable vacations. On the other hand, an answer of adoption travel carries no definite impressions, for it intricately combines business and pleasure along with international bureaucracy and domestic devotion.
Adoption travel – traveling internationally to adopt a child – is a growing route for travelers. According to the U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services, the availability of newborns in the United States is diminishing, prompting more than 20,000 Americans to adopt internationally in 2002. Of those adoptions, more than 75 percent of the children came from China, Russia, Guatemala, South Korea and the Ukraine – five countries that represent a broad range of conditions, for both travel and adoption.
Traveling to a foreign land while worrying about the adoption procedures provides a double-whammy of stress on potential parents. To alleviate the anxiety from the travel side of the equation, turn to a member of the American Society of Travel Agents. Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, ASTA members know how to prepare practically and mentally for such a life-altering journey.
The Travel Side of Adoption Travel
Adoption travel is an umbrella term for three separate journeys: the pre-adoption trip, where parents travel to another country to learn about the culture of the child they are to receive; the actual adoption trip, where parents meet and take home a child they’ve grown to love through pictures; and heritage trips, where the family re-visits the child’s homeland, allowing the child to understand his or her cultural roots.
Pre-Adoption Trip: To give an adopted child a sense of their cultural identity as they grow up, it’s essential for parents to form a relationship with their child’s birth country. Reading travel books is a good start, but experiencing the country firsthand through a pre-adoption visit creates a superior connection.
Understanding a foreign culture imparts invaluable insight to parents as they raise their child, for a day will come when a child asks about his or her homeland. To completely appreciate a country’s uniqueness, pre-adoption trips should be taken when a parent can focus on the culture and the people without being preoccupied with the actual adoption.
Adoption Trip: Some parents who adopt internationally are provided the choice of having their child escorted to the United States or traveling to the country to bring the child home. Travel agents agree: traveling to the country is best, especially if the parent was unable to previously explore the country through a pre-adoption tour.
When making plans for the adoption trip, parents often get swamped in all the details of coordinating an international visit while simultaneously filling out countless adoption papers. This is where a travel agent can truly help out.
Some countries require parents to stay for long periods of time to complete an adoption. Some travel agents who specialize in adoption travel know of hotels or furnished apartments in safe areas that offer discounts to adoptive families. Travel agents who specialize in countries like China and Russia will know much about the country from personal experiences, and they’ll help you prepare for the cultural differences you’ll encounter while setting up your hotel and plane reservations.
Once the weight of travel planning is off your shoulders, you’ll be able to focus more acutely on the adoption itself.
Homeland Heritage Trips: With most cases of international adoption, there comes a time when the adopted child’s interest in his or her home country can only be satiated by a visit. Children are innately curious, and learning about the food, people and customs of their birth culture is a vital identity-building experience.
Travel agents stress the importance of creating a wide-ranging itinerary for a homeland heritage visit, for a child should reach beyond general tourist attractions to understand the true essence of his or her culture. Include in your itinerary a trip to a zoo, where the indigenous animals will delight the child, or have your travel agent set up insightful tours away from the main tourist hubs.
Adopting a Positive Attitude
In the end, travel agents insist that parents take one thing along their journeys throughout the adoption process: a sense of wonder. Having a sense of wonder will help a parent adjust to new situations and become actively interested in the culture of their new child, all while keeping their composure in the face of adversity.
Business or pleasure? Make it both by including a travel agent in your adoption travel plans to create an enjoyable travel experience that will help your new family start out on the right foot.