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Parenting Tips: Easing the Stress & Fears of the Plane Ride Home

Parenting Tips
brought to you by
Adoption Coaching & Training (ACT)
a ministry of America World Adoption
“…taking hold of the hope set before us…”Hebrews 6:18 


Many pre-adoptive parents eagerly look forward to the plane ride to the foreign country to meet their child, but they feel dread at the thought of the plane ride home.  Twelve plus hours in a small confined space with your newly adopted child can be overwhelming and stressful.  There may be tears and gnashing of teeth, from all parties, including the people sitting around you.  Here are some tips that may help make the plane ride smoother:


  • Create a backpack that is specifically for the trip home.  This should contain toys that the child has not seen before.  Something new may keep her attention longer.  Be sure to remove the toy from its package – you don’t want to have to deal with that hard plastic shell on the plane.  Try to avoid toys that make noise, or at least choose toys that have a volume control.  Bring extra batteries if needed.
  • Crayola makes washable markers, or even better, a product called Color Wonder, which are markers that only work on their special paper.  It’s a bit pricey, but you don’t have to worry about your child coloring all over the airplane seat.
  • Dry-erase markers and boards are fun too.  Bring an old sock to use as an eraser.  Your child can have a marker in one hand and a sock on the other, and draw and wipe over and over again.
  • Be wary of stickers.  They can be a lot of fun, but your child should be closely supervised to be sure the stickers make it only onto paper.  If the sticker is stuck to the plastic arms of the airplane seat, it is almost possible to remove (trust me on this one).  Band-aids can be used in place of stickers – they are just as much fun, and they are much easier to remove.
  • Pre-load an IPad or tablet with cartoons and music in your child’s native language.  Include lullabies that might help your child fall asleep.
  • Bring snacks, lots and lots of snacks.  Who doesn’t like to munch to pass the time?
  • Dress your child in layers, as the temperature during the flight can change over time.  Layers allow you to add or take off clothing to maximize your child’s comfort level.
  • Bring extra clothing and baby wipes.  Even a child who is potty trained may have an accident under stressful conditions.  Don’t forget plastic bags – gallon-sized Ziploc bags work best to contain wet messes.
  • Lavender essential oil has been shown to have a calming effect on the central nervous system.  You can rub the oil on the child’s hand, or even upper lip, to help calm him down during a scary flight.  We strongly discourage any use of medications, like Benedryl, to make your child sleepy, unless directed by your pediatrician for a specific condition.  Some children need Dramamine for motion sickness but use only on the advice of your doctor.
  • Remind yourself that this too shall pass.  Yes, when you are walking that screaming child up and down the aisle, and the other passengers are shooting you dirty looks, it feels like forever.  But no matter how bad it is, you will land—eventually—and you will never see those people again.  You will begin your lives together as a family and this plane ride will be a distant memory.

Do you have a travel tip to share? Post your helpful hint on the America World Facebook page.  

Diane Hood, America World Adoption Clinical SupervisorThis article was written by Diane Hood, Clinical Supervisor with America World Adoption, and the Director of Social Services in our Georgia office.  Diane has more than 20 years experience in the adoption field and she is a parent by birth and by adoption.  

ACT (Adoption Coaching and Training) is a ministry of America World Adoption designed to support families through training, support groups, and individualized coaching.  Explore ACT services on our website here, and reach out to us today for a free consultation to make a plan to meet your needs.

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