For all the thousands of holiday travelers whose airline reservations get waylaid due to bad weather, the stakes could be no greater than it is for those whose adoption travel plans get complicated due to airline cancellations.

Couples doing an open adoption typically know, if they aren’t locals, that the adoption process will ordinarily require at least 3 trips here: to meet once matched, to be here for the actual placement, and to attend finalization of the adoption in Bexar County 6-18 months later.

Adoption travel costs are an additional expense not included in the agency’s case estimate, of course, whenever someone is adopting from beyond their own locale, so be sure to plan accordingly.

Anticipate the Unexpected

Adopting parents Michael and Dana had already traveled here to meet the prospective birthfamily who’d chosen to match with them. They were elated when the expectant mom invited them back to be with her in the delivery room of a San Antonio hospital for the birth of the baby they hope to adopt.

They joyfully booked flights to get them here the day before the birth, so they could take the mom to the hospital and support her emotionally throughout the hospital experience. To their dismay, however, the airline cancelled their flights due to staffing issues.

Desperate to keep their promises to the expectant mom and her family, Michael & Dana rented a car and drove from Pennsylvania, stopping in Tennessee to sleep a few hours, and arriving at the hospital in San Antonio the next night. They missed the birth by half a day, yet kept in touch with the first mom along the way, and gratefully received baby photos via texts, until they could be here to support mom and baby in person.

Best Made Plans

Another returning Abrazo couple, Sean & Michelle, likewise matched with an expectant mom who wants them to be with her at the hospital when her baby is born. They, too, had flight plans already in place for their trip from North Carolina to Texas.

Upon learning that the baby is likely to arrive earlier than expected, however, Sean and Michelle decided not to give the weather nor the airlines a chance to foil their adoption travel plans. They’re already renting a vehicle and heading south, in hopes of spending some extra quality time with the expectant mom and her family, even before the baby gets here.

Being experienced in open adoption, both families know that adopting babies out of Texas will necessarily entail bringing their Texas-born children back for birthfamily visits, in the years to follow. It’s a privilege most Abrazo families come to regard as a sacred duty of sorts.

Coping with Unknowns

Experienced adopting couples know that there are no guaranteed outcomes, not in adoption plans nor in adoption travel. Still, they know that accessibility can make or break interstate adoption arrangements, when time may be of the essence. They recognize the important of kept promises, and they truly go the extra mile to literally “be here” when needed— both before and after placement.

Adoption travel usually isn’t cheap, since it rarely affords adopting parents ample advance notice (or the discounts that come with it.) Yet the ticket prices are not typically what most travelers remember, years later— whether they returned home from adoption travel with empty arms, or proudly bearing that new little family member of their dreams.

It’s essential to remember to breathe deep, stay calm and always take the high road whenever adoption travels may become complicated by unexpected twists and turns. Placing parents need to know that the adopting parents can deal with crises calmly, whatever arises, and newly-placed babies and children also benefit, too. 

(Helpful hint: if your adoption plans do go awry, definitely wrap up and check that empty car seat as baggage, to avoid the well-meaning but painful questions from strangers in the airport about where your baby is?)

Adoption Travel Tips

Your adoption agency staff will have more experience than you know in helping adopting parents plan adoption travel. Ask their advice, then heed it! (If they tell you “fly, don’t drive!” then please trust that they know why timing may significantly outweigh budgetary savings.)

Have your adoption bags packed and at the ready before the due date, friends! But don’t overpack the baby bag… remember, nearly any baby supplies you need in Texas can be easily purchased here, if forgotten.

Placing parents cannot legally sign relinquishment for at least 48 hours after birth. And adopting couples from out of state are required to remain in Texas for 7-10 (business) days after placement, while Interstate Compact clearance is sought, so estimate accordingly when reserving return flights. (Most airline supervisors can waive change fees for adopting families, upon request.)

Suite hotels or AirBnbs can be cozy sites for “baby honeymoons” and continued post-placement open adoption visits with the birthfamily. (Ronald McDonald Houses can also provide cost-effective quarters for adopting parents of NICU babies.)

A pediatrician’s note may be required by the airlines for newborns flying home with new adoptive parents. (However, no other provisions are needed, other than pacifiers or bottles for takeoff and landing and paid tickets for car seats used inflight.)

There is, perhaps, no more memorable trip in life than adoption travel, so bon voyage, baby!… and may your journey lead to a bright new future in whatever time it’s truly meant to happen.

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24-Hour Birthparent HelpLine
for New Placing Parents/Medical Emergencies

Placing parents calling from Texas or surrounding states:

Placing parents calling from outside Texas, please call collect:
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Mailing address:

3123 Northwest Loop 410
San Antonio, TX 78230