Travel Safety During Overseas Adoptions
Each year hundreds of children are adopted from overseas by Britons. These prospective parents generally must travel to the country from which they are adopting their child, and this travel is often fraught with competing emotions. While there may not be much you can do about the emotions you will experience as you travel to complete an overseas adoptions, you can do much to protect your identity, health and safety as well as the safety of your possessions during your trip.
Travel Safety During Overseas AdoptionsYour adoption agency will advise you on the documents with which you should travel, but don't be surprised if you are not in charge of your own Certificate of Eligibility from the Department of Children, Schools and Families. Often this Certificate is forwarded directly to international authorities or your agency takes care of it. For your part, don't forget your passport as well as a back-up photo identification should you need it. Depending on the country to which you are travelling you may need to arrange your own entry visa. Be sure to leave copies of all relevant documents and identifications at home so that they can be faxed or scanned if needed. When you bring your child home, you will likely have a passport for him or her from his birth country and will need to obtain a visa from the nearest UK consulate or embassy. Throughout your travel home you will likely need to show the court decree, birth certificate, adoptions certificate and entry visa for your child. Again, keeping copies of these documents and having multiple sources with which to confirm the identity of all travellers in your group is an important part of ensuring everyone's safety should there be any unforeseen obstacles.
Health and Personal Safety During Overseas AdoptionsDepending on the country from which you are adopting a child there may be different risks to health and safety while you travel. Once you know when and where you will be travelling see your GP or attend a travel clinic to sort any immunisations or other precautions to take before you go. Also ask what type of health risks your child might be susceptible to having been in care in a particular country. Your adoption agency may be able to provide you with information about what to expect of your child's health at the start as well. Also check to see if/when your private health or travel insurance will cover your child and check in with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to see if there are any travel warnings about a particular country or area. Depending on how long you plan to stay in a country you may also consider registering with an embassy or consulate so that you are officially recognised as a Briton in the area. Pack a first aid kit and any products for infant or child health you think you might need (baby paracetamol, nappy rash cream etc) though check with a medical professional before using any of these products on your child.
Safety of Possessions During Overseas AdoptionsMany parents who travel for overseas adoptions will have spoken to others who have travelled before them and will know a bit about the specific location and/or accommodation in which they will be staying. No matter how good the reviews, take common sense precautions to keep your possessions safe. Check the locks on your doors and windows and use a hotel safe for valuables. Try to leave flashy jewellery or electronics at home and don't travel with any item you could not bear to lose. Keep a lock on your luggage when you are not in the room and keep your passport on your person at all times. Try to wear your handbag or day bag in front of your person while you are out in crowds and keep all medicines and other potentially harmful substances on higher shelves from the start. If possible, baby or child-proof your room when you arrive so that you are ready whenever you are able to bring your child back with you. If you must discuss personal or financial details at any time, ask to move to a private room or write out your information. Do not keep luggage tags announcing your home address on your suitcases. It may seem over the top to take all of these precautions, but it's easier and less frustrating than having something important lost or stolen.
Staying safe while travelling overseas for an adoption requires a great deal of preparation and common sense. There is much you can do to keep yourself, your child, your documents and your possessions safe as you travel, so start planning as soon as you book your tickets.