Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Preparing for Trip One (Part 2)

Last week, I blogged about my fears of being overly emotional on this trip when we first meet our daughter. I'm still praying for strength in that area.  

Jeremy and I are forgoing Christmas shopping for each other this year.  Thankfully, our families agreed to minimal gift exchanging as well, which is really taking a financial burden off of us this holiday season.  We did escape to Boone, NC yesterday just to go somewhere refreshing and to grab a few stocking stuffers.  While out and about, we grabbed a few inexpensive toys and snacks to take on trip one for Ivelina.


We have been advised to take a back pack full of goodies to the orphanage each day when we go spend time with Ivelina.  Some suggestions we got were to take animal cookies, gummy bears, bubbles, coloring books, and other items that we can interact with together.  Children have short attention spans, of course, so having plenty of fun and interesting things with us will help us keep Ivelina's attention during the day and will make our time together enjoyable.  We do not know how many toys the orphanage will have, and since we are traveling in January, we also don't know if the Bulgarian weather will allow us to play outside. 

So here's what we have bought so far:

1. individual packets of animal crackers
2. gummy bears
3. jelly beans
4. blank scribble pad
5. sticker book
6. coloring book
7. big variety pack of stickers
8. jumbo size crayons
9. 3-pack of bubbles
10. 4-pack of Paly-Doh
11. soft stuffed bear
12. medium-sized light-weight ball 

So, now, we need suggestions!  For those of you who have traveled the adoption road before us, please offer your suggestions of toys that are appropriate for taking on trip #1.  

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Ivelina is 7, but she will have weak fine motor skills
  • The items need to be inexpensive 
  • The items need to be easy to pack and travel with (the blue ball will fit in our luggage, but we do not want to take anything any larger than that)
  • The toys should be something we can play together with her

Alright, go!  What ideas do you have for snacks and toys we should pack for trip one?


  1. I think you should get a stuffed animal that looks like Josey and have a photo of Josey with you. Then you can explain the connection. Hopefully you can leave the dog stuffed animal with her, so she gets used to the idea of a dog that is hers and won't be so scared of Josey when she first arrives home :)

    1. Great idea! Now, to just find a stuffed Doberman toy....I did forget to mention that we do have a small photo album to take and leave with Ivelina. We will have a photo of everyone in our family in it, including Josey! Thanks =)

  2. I would recommend a bag of balloons that you can blow up as you go and/or beach balls, again ready to blow up when wanted.

    Since she is a girl, take her a special hair brush and lots of hair accessories, so you can do each other's hair. If you think it is appropriate, some light or sparkly nail polish might also work to encourage physical contact.

    A lot of people like to take a recordable book (I think Hallmark sells them). Record yourself reading the story to Ivelina and she can listen over and over while she waits for you to come back. Along the same lines, bring a photo book of you, your family, home, etc. and leave a few sleeves blank to put some pictures of the three of you in it before you end your visit.

    Kids also tend to be very interested in technology, so your cell phone, camera, or tablet could provide some entertainment. You might want to upload some free interactive apps for toddlers or preschoolers that you could enjoy together. I don't know if they still sell these individual little Polaroid cameras that take about ten photos and instantly spit them out. If so, this could be fun.

    Lastly, despite the fine motor delays, think of taking some crafts that you can do together with hand over hand help: big beads and string to make necklaces that she can keep; markers, stickers, and glitter glue to decorate cheap foam photo frames, some plain white tees (your size and hers) and a few fabric markers to decorate them. You can set the designs with an iron at the hotel if necessary and leave Ivelina's shirt with her and take yours home to wear when you miss her.

    Also, not in the entertainment category, but take a tape measure to get her measurements for clothing purchases for the pick up trip. Also, trace her foot onto some cardboard or card stock, so you can buy the right size shoe for the pick up trip.

    Most importantly, have fun! And yes, you will cry, too. I cried an ocean of tears during our week with Rex.

    1. These are awesome ideas, Vivianne! Unfortunately we do not own tablets or smart devices, so the tech ideas are out for us, but I love the ideas of making t-shirts, necklaces, and crafts together. I need to shop for some of those kinds of items. Thanks so much for the helpful advice!

  3. Advice from others that went before me, really helped on both trips. Monika was 9 but developmentally Kindergarten level. I did take a kids backpack that had her stuff in it each day to the orphanage. She looked forward to looking to see what was in the bag, so I quickly learned to only pack what we were doing for that time period, that way she had a surprise each time we arrived. Highlight was always to see what snack we had. I had 1 snack and 1 juice (purchased in country) each time I arrived. Snacks were goldfish crackers, animal crackers, honey grahams, etc in ziplock bags. She definitely was and still is obsessed with opening and closing zip lock bags and it was light and easy to take. I will tell you what I took that did not work along with what did. Polly pocket doll---NO she did not have the fine motor skills needed. Little Pet shop type animals---NO she was in a very sheltered environment and could not name a single animal and they had no meaning to her. Pop Beads -- YES very big hit. Loved making different necklaces/ bracelets. I got toddler sized pop bead set so it was easy to do. We all sat at table making things and shared what we made. String beads....again toddler variety---YES. Coloring and stickers both went over OK but were things she has seen before so not super exciting. It did give me an idea of what level she was on using pencils/crayons. She also liked the washable markers. Liked the foam stickers best for making pictures. It was too cold for us to go outside. 24 piece puzzles -- she liked it as a group activity. She could not do it herself but liked us to tell her where to put the pieces. So all our time was spent in one visiting room. No toys or activities from the orphanage, only a pitcher of water with glasses provided. She was OBSESSED with cell phones. All the workers had them and obviously she wasn't allowed to touch them. I did add some pre-school apps, she especially like the ones that had simple music like twinkle little star. We did not bring out the balloons until the last day.......It was by far the biggest hit and the only thing that really got her up and moving. We batted the balloons around the whole visiting time the last day. Also because it was active it made it easier not to get too quiet and teary. I brought kids lip gloss, nail polish, hair clips, brush, little mirror--- Very big YES. She LOVED the girly things and loved leaving at the end of visit to show the other kids how beautiful she is. I painted her nails and then allowed her to paint mine to match......I know it is dorky but I could not take off that nail polish. It lasted a couple weeks after getting home and just brought back sweet memories. Also BIG hit was cheap plastic princes sunglasses. Everything we took, I left either with her or gave to director for use there....like the puzzles. She really seemed to appreciate it. I was also told to measure her feet/ clothes size. I asked 3 separate times for interpreter to help translate so I could do this and was put off every time. Not sure why??? She said they would send me her sizes in time for pick up trip. They did not. I did bring a couple of outfits as gifts and the staff put them on for her to wear while there but on pick up trip I had to guess shoe size and brought 2 sizes that were both too big. The orphanage let her leave in the shoes she was wearing and we bought another pair in country. You will have a great time! So excited for your journey!

  4. Thank you Brenda! It seems like I am hearing common advice from those who have adopted older girls: girly stuff! We are definitely going to look for nail polish, lip gloss, hair accessories, and maybe a jewelry making kit for toddlers. I'm thinking a variety of small scented lotions would be nice and would foster physical touch and bonding too.


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