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Adoption Travel During Coronavirus

Adoption News Bonding & Attachment

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  Written by Holt International's Clinical Team on 10 Mar 2020

During this difficult time for families waiting to be united with their child, it may be challenging to gather information and consider all the repercussions that traveling to adopt at that time may bring.  For this reason, we are sharing an important notice written by Holt International's clinical team and shared with their waiting families. 

While Holt International strongly advises adhering to the U.S. Department of State’s coronavirus travel advisories, we understand that there may be select circumstances requiring an imminent need to travel internationally to complete your child’s adoption. If you travel to a country where any travel warning is in place, prepare for the possibility of the warning level to rise while you are traveling. The quarantine period in the US is currently 14 days. This is an emerging and unpredictable global crisis and changes to quarantine protocol can change rapidly.

Here are some things to think about before traveling: 

  • Consider potential impacts (i.e. employment, child care, access to medications, financial responsibilities, etc…) should you be quarantined, or contract the virus and need extended health care services.
  • Think about the essential items your travel party, and any family members not traveling, may need to have on hand (prescriptions, over the counter medications, etc…) in the event that you are transferred to a quarantine facility upon arrival.
  • Should you or anyone in your party become symptomatic you could be subjected to mandated changes to travel plans, which may impact your ability to return to the US as planned. If you are quarantined abroad, you will be responsible for covering any associated costs (flight changes, accommodations, food, etc…)

 Considerations regarding the quarantine experience

  • There are multiple quarantine facilities in use across the country. Travelers will not have an opportunity to choose their quarantine location.
  • If ordered to be quarantined in your home, you will need to have everything delivered for at least two weeks (food, household, and medical supplies). Make your support plan ahead of time.
  • In a quarantine facility, your family will likely be evaluated and tested multiple times a day, including needle pokes, by medical professionals wearing bio-protective suits. This is not a normal experience and will be scary to a child who is already confused and overwhelmed.

 Possible impacts to adjustment/attachment: 

  • Children’s stress levels are subject to our own. Traveling under these circumstances will certainly be a challenging experience for everyone. Discuss ways to manage your own anxiety and stress ahead of time.
  • When a child’s initial experience of a new parent(s) is to be confined/quarantined and medically probed, the child might blame the parent(s) for the experience which might have long-lasting negative impacts on the relationship.
  • For children who have a history of negative attachment experiences, the intensity of being confined in a small space with adults they are not familiar with could negatively impact the adjustment/attachment process.
  • Families considering solo-parent travel under these circumstances must reflect on their capacity to meet the child’s emotional needs in a well-regulated state without much (if any) external support or entertainment.
  • For children with a history of medical trauma, the experience of being met with invasive medical testing/care by medical professionals wearing bio-protective suits may trigger significant fear-responses that could present as withdrawn or aggressive behaviors.
  • Children with extensive pre-existing or unforeseen medical needs who enter into a quarantine facility may have limited access to specialty services and care.
  • Expect developmental and behavioral regression to occur in waves at each new juncture (i.e. upon entering quarantine, leaving quarantine, arriving at your home) which are all new transitions for your child (i.e. new environment, new people, and new foods).
  • It is unknown if there will be any translation support while in quarantine. An inability to communicate could result in a child that experiences significant frustration and, as a result, emotional dysregulation.
  • Individuals who have recently traveled overseas, as well as those currently leaving quarantine, report experiencing discrimination when returning to their communities. Consider how this might impact your family and your child’s adjustment process.

*Because this is an unprecedented situation, we are unable to predict the challenges related to attachment/adjustment under these circumstances. Information in this document was gathered from the CDC, the US Dept. of State, and Holt International’s Clinical Team.




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