The Abraham Family’s Journey to Russia to Bring Home Their Daughter

June 5, 2008

Calling all Lists!

Martin and I have already decided that there really wasn't anything that was going to stop us from going to Russia to meet the little girl being referred to us.

So now I am gathering things up to pack for our trip. Over the past year, I have been preparing and planning for a toddler around age 3 or 4. It has occurred to me that I have no idea what to pack for a baby. There are a few things ready that we planned to take anyway and they include:

  • Photo Album with pictures of our family to leave with her caregivers;
  • Disposable cameras to leave with her caregivers so they will (hopefully) take photos of her between trips;
  • A blanket that we've washed with our detergent and that we've slept with to leave with her (with a matching one still at home);
  • A Build-a-Bear with our voices (that the boys will help make) to leave with her;
  • Bubbles; and
  • Cheerios and Gerber Fruit Puffs.

That's it. That's the extent of my packing list. I seriously need some help here from those who have been there/done that or are about to and have planned better than me. For example:

  • Do I need to take clothes for her?
  • Should I take clothes to leave with her between trips?
  • Will she need diapers? If so, should I bring a few from home or buy them in country?
  • What else should we leave with her between trips?
  • What kind of toys do babies like that will help us see her developmental skills? (You wouldn't know I'm already a mom of four. :0)) I'm thinking of stacking/nesting cups, but what else?

And then there are the general lists that I should have been making all along, but haven't:

  • What should we wear?
  • How dressy do you need to go when meeting with the MOE and/or for orphanage visits?
  • Will Martin be able to wear blue or black jeans everyday like he does at home? Does he need a tie for anything?
  • What kind of shoes will be best? (Please don't say black stiletto-heel boots!)
  • What other odds and ends are needed for survival during the first whirlwind trip?
  • What about flying into Moscow and then taking another flight to get to the region ... how much time should we plan between flights.
  • We have our Skype phones ready to go, but we need to test them. Anybody know if they work in Kemerovo?
  • I have electrical converters/adaptors, but don't know if I really need them.
  • Martin is ordering the crisp dollar bills from our banker, but which denominations are best?

If anyone reading this post has any advice, tips, or suggestions for us, PLEASE leave a comment. And if you have your lists prepared, PLEASE share them with us by sending an email to me at! I greatly appreciate the help and will gladly pay it forward to others.


Jackie said...

Oh my goodness Kim!!! I just now saw this news! How awesome that you will be heading to Russia to pick up a BABY!! I am thrilled for you!!

Joy said...

OH MY GOODNESS!! I have not gotten a chance to read my blogs in the past couple of days. I just can not believe that you have gotten your referral. I am so excited!! You will do just fine with a little one.

I bet she is beautiful.
Your in my thoughts and prayers,

The Horners said...

Coming from someone whose bags were lost on the first trip I can say that you can and should pack light! If possible I would pack two pair of pants (capris or shorts for June weather) and two shirts, three pair of underwear and socks and then travel size toiletries. You should be able to pack that and your baby items in carry-on bags. If you pack a travel size detergent then you can wash clothes along the way OR some regional hotels have a lady assigned to your floor that will do your laundry. Seriously, PACK light for the first trip!

Becky and Keith said...

What awesome, awesome news!!! Okay - here are some answers!
1. Clothes for her? Only if you want to try on sizes. You can also leave them as a donation if you want.
2. Diapers - buy them there. They have huggies/pampers. We bought a bunch before we left as a "donation".
3. They may/may not let you feed her on the first trip and if they do it will either be their food or the cheerios/gerber puffs you pack.
4. We left all of the toys we brought with us. We didn't necessarily leave them for our little guy, but for the orphanage. We only left a blanket and photo album. He didn't like our stuffed dog. :-)
5. Don't forget a disposable camera to leave between trips! (says the person that brought one but forgot to leave it!)
6. Dressing - For the MOE I wore black slacks, heels and a nice sweater. Keith wore dress slacks, a shirt and blazer - no tie - and we were fine. Ever day after, at the orphanage, I wore black pants or dressy jeans and Keith wore mostly black jeans. We never wore true blue jeans until the last day. Dress comfortably whatever you do - you'll be on the floor and all over the place!
7. Bills - we had mostly 100's, some 50's and about $200 in 20's. That worked absolutely fine for us.
8. You probably don't need a converter (check your cords of your equipment to make sure they're dual voltage) but you definitely need an adapter. May want to bring the converter just in case.
9. Miscellaneous things to pack - snack food - lots of things you can eat on the go. We had very little time for lunch so we typically ate in the car. Granola bars - things like that. An umbrella - never know when it might rain. Even if the weather seems nice, bring a sweater just to have for the evenings.

Hmmmm... I'll keep thinking and will also email you lists when I get home tonight! I know you must be SO excited! If you're anything like me you have time to prepare and you feel like you're ready until it really happens!! :-)

Jeff, Abbey, and Reed Land said...

You are making me laugh! I'm afraid my answers to these questions might be quite different since we dealt with Taiwan. My advice: Keep It Simple. Because of cultural differences, the clothes we sent with Reed didn't appear to be worn much. I think leaving very few toys will be best - the bear, the album, and maybe one stuffed small toy. Be sure to sleep with the items (not the plastic album!) so she can be comfortable with your scent. I'll try to go back and think through again and shoot you an email if I can remember more. Oh, and definitely pack light for all of you - you can certainly re-wear clothing. You don't want to be bogged down by tons of unnecessary luggage!

kate said...

Congratulations! I've been a lurker for awhile, but had to congratulate you on your wonderful news!

Look nice for the MOE (no jeans), but the baby home visits can be done in jeans. An inflatable ball (like a beach ball) is great to take with you. It packs flat and is a good entertainer.

There will be toys in the baby home for you to play with as well.

I would not bring a bottle on trip one.

I would bring a couple of outfits to help you determine her size--and plan on leaving them.

DO pack a mix of items in your suitcases and carry-on--no his and her luggage--in case of loss.

Buy heat-producing electronics (ie blow dryer) in-country rather than using adapters.

Pack light. Bring several tee-shirts and a sweater. You don't need much. People here are very used to seeing the same clothes over and over.

Of course, this is all gleaned from other people's lists! I'm still waiting to meet d2b! (I do live in Russia, so feel free to e-mail me if you have questions.)

kate said...

One last note--I have not had problems in the orphanages I visit and take donations to, but some, apparently, do *not* like the children to have stuffed toys. They consider them unsanitary. Bring the bear and hope for the best! If you can bring the photos in an album that is slick and not cloth, it is more likely to spend time with her. (Does that make sense? You know--those puffy, chewable ones?)

Wishing you all joy!

Carol said...

Have fun Kim! Pack for you like you are going on vacation. For the baby bring a minimum of toys/stuff to play with your visit time flies by. Stacking cups and
"pat and feel" books were a big hit with our little guy. At his orphanage he was not allowed to have stuffed toys (if they fall on the floor the caregivers are supposed to wash them - I would rather have them paying attention to the kids then washing toys!), there were shelves of stuffed toys left behind. Good idea on the blanket, photo album and camera, we did all of that. HOpefully you will be able to be outside some of the time so bubbles might be a good idea. Check all the money carefully, have the bank give you new or go through each note with the teller and don't accept anything dirty, folded, torn, stamped or written on. $4000 should be enough for food, medicals, driver/translater fees, and some souviners (we spent $4050, brought $4500 and St. Peterburg was EXPENSIVE). Gum and snack foods, we brought snack bags of homemade trail mix and breakfast bars, they were great in a pinch.
Also a notebook to take notes during your meetings, with your translator and to measure her little foot! Don't fret to much about what to bring for her keep it simple and not overwhelming.

Ron and Dinia said...


I live in Moscow and have had the priviledge of meeting a few adoptive couples this year. In the for what its worth department we have found that most bureaus of exchange will take bills as long as they are not marked. You might want to save the cleanest bills for the regions as they are picker there then here in Moscow. We lived in Izhevsk, Russia and our SKYPE connection worked there, but it will depend on how fast your internet connection is where you are staying. Have you ever used the packing bags from the Container Store? I bought some on my last trip and was amazed at how much space they space you. Please let us know if there is anything we can do for ya'll as you pass in and out of Moscow. Ron has created a map of restaurants near Arbat for adoptice couples and we would be glad to send that to you.

Safe travels!

Dinia and Ron

Janine said...

Oh this is so exciting!!! You are doing well with your lists. My own caution is with the teddy bear. You might not want it back with you so... if you are okay with that go ahead and take it. Orphanages can potentially have all kinds can I say this politely? Bugs/illnesses/lice/etc you don't those critters traveling back with you home via the stuffed bear which you won't be able to wash or your voice recordings will be ruined. We did bring a lovey for Emily to leave with her although I highly doubt they put it in her crib and I never saw it on any visits the 2nd trip. I did bring the exact same lovey with me so she could have it with her at the hotel and for home.

We did leave her a pair of shoes to wear but again when we came back she was still wearing her old shoes and her new pretty pink shoes were on another little boy. :-) And of course we didn't get those back either, which was fine, I was expecting to not get them back.

What I'm glad I did leave was a disposable camera, notecards for the caregivers to write her messages and a photo album of us. The photos and notes are wonderful to now have of Emily.

Most important things to, video camera, journal and pen for note taking. Laptop is nice too for internet access.

If I remember correctly your referral was 9 months old? Stuff to have at the orphanage about a few jars of banana baby food and spoon, stacking cups, bubbles, small electronic noisy toy like a phone, and something to teeth on, and maybe even a cloth book? Sanitizing Wipes to wipe off toys or your hands at the end of the visit. A small roll of TP in case there isn't any and you need to use the restroom while you are there.

For the MOE Appt I wore black slacks and a nice top, my husband wore black slacks and a nice sweater. It was snowing in March. :-) Comfortable clothes at the orphanage as you will be playing on the floor, bending over, crawling around, etc.

Oh I'm so excited for you...such wonderful times are awaiting you. :-)


Anonymous said...

take diapers with you. on all of our foreign travel, diapers have been hard to find and VERY expensive. plan on wearing pants at least twice, shirts 1-2 times, and underwear once. i'ld take mainly $20s - just easier to break and more people accept them. you'ld be suprised how many foreign people just "don't have change" for larger bills and will try to gyp you out of your money. let us know when you have travel dates! we're counting the days (plus, I need to start telling work when to expect me to be gone).

Love, Cori