Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bringing Blake with us...

Blakeley and Brecken at Dreamland

We decided early on that we wanted our three year old, Blake to come with us to pick up Brecken. There were a ton of people who were surprised that we would bring our three year old with us to Africa, but we wanted her to feel that she was a major part of this experience...after all, she has heard us talk about the adoption for almost two years. You should also know that Blake is a very active, independent little girl, she loves to see new things and she plays very, very hard. We knew that we would have to help her keep busy while we were traveling, we also knew that traveling would mean long lines, long plane trips, a completely different time zone, different food, different everything...we wanted to try to keep her as comfortable as possible with all these new things. Here are some things we did to help her travel better and to make sure she had everything that she needed:

  • Personal Backpack - we bought a special backpack that we loaded with toys, games, crayons and coloring books. She was able to get into her things when she wanted. I also included some snacks.
  • Changes of clothes - we brought changes of clothes for Blake where ever we went...even in country. These were especially helpful on the flights. We also made sure to change her into her pjs for the really long flight.
  • Baby Wipes - I packed a small package of baby wipes in my bag just in case and we used them all on Blake before we even got to Addis.
  • DVD Player with extra headphones - We brought some of Blake's favorite DVDs with us and it was so, so wonderful when she was up at 5:00 in the morning and we still wanted a bit of sleep.
  • Snacks, Snacks, and more snacks - always good to have with kids
  • Children's Pepto - I was really surprised that we used this, but Blake needed it. I was so happy we had something for her...I know they also make Tums for kids too.
  • TicTacs and stickers - For some reason Blake loves TicTacs and she also loves stickers - these were her special treats when we really needed her to listen or to stay in the very long security and we do not call it's called positive reinforcement.
  • Little Surprises - I completely hit the Target dollar bins for a few months before we left to collect things that Blake would open as a special surprise in Ethiopia. I found these really cool pictures that change color when you added water...this was something that kept her busy and didn't make a huge mess either. I also brought small plastic animals, games, coloring activities and more.
  • Small soccer ball - Andy got this mini soccer ball and he decided to bring it with us, I was so very happy he did because Blake used it in the airport and at the guest house.
  • Car Seat - We got some strange looks when we spoke to Emirates and told them we would be using her car seat on the plane, but that is how we travel...she is much more comfortable in her seat and it helps to keep her in one place. On one flight they even checked it to make sure it was aviation safe. We also were able to use the car seat in the car in Ethiopia. Make sure you have a way to transport your car seat when you are walking through the airport...Andy attaches the car seat to his backpack (I have no idea how) and it works really well.
  • Small item to give the new baby/child - We also had Blake bring a special soft toy to give Brecken. She was so excited to be able to give her new sister something.
  • Grandy - I know that not everyone can bring someone along to help with everything, but my mom was able to come with us and it was a huge help. For example, she was able to watch Blake while we went to the cultural dinner...she would not have done too good at the was loud and we sat for a long time...we enjoyed it, Blake would have probably melted. Thank you mom for coming with us!
Kids things in Addis
  • There is a game place in a mall in Addis that has games and a huge play place - if you are bringing children with you be sure to ask your driver or Ryan about this was nice to be able to have Blake go and get some energy out.
  • I know you can got swimming at the one of the big hotels...we did not do this, but I believe it is an option.
  • We did see some parks...we didn't go to any of them, but they looked pretty cool.
  • The guest house we stayed at had a little grass area that was great for Blake to run and play a bit.
Yes, it was a lot of work (a ton of work!) to have her come with us, and I wasn't always thrilled about that decision while I was on the trip, but I am so glad that we did bring her. She was able to experience a different culture and see things that average three year old does not. She was able to be there when we finally got her sister. I know this is not an option for all families, but I know there are some families who are thinking about bringing youngsters with them to Addis. I know that when we adopt again, we will be bringing our whole family, if at all possible. Hopefully I answered some questions about bringing little ones with you...let me know if you have any more.


Ryane said...

This is great! Thanks so much!

I am sure I will have more questions as we get closer to time to travel.

Thanks again.

{B} said...

No problem Ryane, It took me a while to think through everything...let me know if you have more questions.

Amber said...

We will travel soon and we are not sur if we should take our 13 year old with us or not. a lot of pros and a lot of cons. Missing school competitions, etc..We are still praying about what to do.

Amy said...

This is great... we really really really want to take Silas with us when we go over for baby girl. Some already think we are crazy, but I want him to be a part of it AND I can not imagine being away from him for that long!!!!!! I am afraid we wouldn't fully enjoy our time if he weren't with us because we would be so eager to get back home to him.

Sounds like a lot of pre planning will need to go into taking him with us! :)

Donna Grier said...

what vaccines did your little girl have to have?? We are debating on whether or not we should take our 6 yo when we go...

{B} said...

The only vac they really say you have to have when you adopt a child from another country is Hep A...other than that, we did not get vacs for anything else.

Autumn and Dan's family said...

Thanks for this post! I don't know how I found your blog, but we are leaving in 1 1/2 weeks to pick up our baby and we are bringing our 4 year old son. This was great to read.
Your girls are lovely....

A little about us... said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. We are planning on bringing our two children ages 7 and 5 with us if at all possible. One of the grandmas will come too. It was great to hear your experience. If you have any other input, let me know. Thanks. Toni

Mandy said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. We are planning on bringing our two children ages 7 and 5 with us if at all possible. One of the grandmas will come too. It was great to hear your experience. If you have any other input, let me know. Thanks. Toni