People seem to like lists a lot.   I also remember my panic, even with extensive international travel under my belt, when forced to pack for a trip of unknown duration where I could have found myself stuck in a remote village for more than a month.

Keep in mind that you may find yourself spending lots of time with nothing to do.  You need to stay busy and stay connected since your friends and family provide a lifeline to sanity when you are going through an international adoption.

So here’s my top ten list:

  1. Books – we were unable to find English reading material anywhere, even in major cities.  Pick long books, at least 3 of them.  Some recommendations:      Shantaram ~ Gregory David Roberts;  The Source ~ James A. Michener; World Without End or The Pillars of the Earth ~ Ken Follett; Shogun or Noble House ~ James Clavelle;  An Instance of the Fingerpost ~ Iain Pears.  Please feel free to list your own recommendations in the comments section. You may also want to bring along a book about adoption. I brought Attaching in Adoption: Practical Tools for Today’s Parents~Deborah D. Gray. Links featured below.
  2. Portable DVD player – we took this with us primarily for Karen, but it was nice to have when we rented an apartment with no DVD and no TV in English.
  3. DVDs – you will not find anything in English. All non-Russian movies are dubbed.
  4. Laptop computer – yes it’s a hassle, but we found we were able to get Internet in most rented apartments, after a lot of hassles.  But it was our lifeline.  Since even most  TV cable companies offer nothing in English, we found that the only way we could keep up with news and stay in contact with our support network at home was via the laptop.  We Skyped on a daily basis and kept up on news, email,  blog.  the laptop also served up games for Karen and DH to play.
  5. iPad, if available.  You should even be able to use this to buy ebooks to read in iPad’s great reader options.  Note however that buying items online from Ukraine may be difficult, especially if you did not notify your bank of your travel plans ahead of time.
  6. Quality toys – Fisher-Price, bring from home.  Cheap Chinese electronic toys are readily available at local shops.  Bring at least one toy as a primary gift to your new child.  We found bringing a pack of balloons kept toddlers happy and playful.
  7. A full course of antibiotics for each person travelling with you.  Consult your doctor to determine what will work best for the type of problems you are most likely to encounter.  We took amoxicillin for Karen and Axetil for us adults. Luckily we did not use any of it.
  8. Ensure you have enough money on your Skype account to call freely.  You may not be able to add money later on since credit card transactions originating in Ukraine may be blocked as suspicious.
  9. Xanax and 2 months of any prescription meds you take on a regular basis.  You may find yourself in extremely stressful and emotional situations.  Unless you are completely unflappable in the face of adversity, you will want Xanax as a backup.
  10. Extra gifts, mostly for women.  Especially appreciated are known brands of perfume and cosmetics.  My Dior gifts were very popular.  Although you will already be packing gifts for the baby home director and your facilitator, always have extra gifts available for translators, or anyone else who may be involved in helping you.  Boxes of chocolate can be purchased locally.  These are good for the team of caretakers.

Book links: