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Margaret Weeks' Annotated Packing List for Adopting a Baby from Vietnam

Margaret adopted a 3 month old baby girl in Vietnam in 1999.

This packing list is the result of pouring over many packing lists I found on the Internet. I am most grateful to those who thoughtfully shared their ideas and suggestions so that I would be better prepared for my own trip. Some of the ideas that follow come from other people, some are my ideas. I have included some notes at the end that may be helpful.

Please keep in mind that this list was made up for a trip to adopt my almost 3 month old daughter, and includes items for me and my mother who traveled with me.( her clothing list is not included, but the medicines you see listed are for the both of us! We were traveling in November and December and were stopping along the way in San Francisco and Bangkok, and staying in Vietnam for 3 weeks.

Make sure to take with you copies of all your prescription medicines, contact and glasses perscriptions.

Make sure to remember your passport and visa!!

Clothes for Margaret
5 sleeveless cotton shirts
2 white cotton shirts
1 long-sleeved white cotton shirt (G&R)
2 cotton undershirts (for under jumpers)
1 knee-length twill skirt
1 linen jumper (G&R) *1
washable linen shirt and pants (dinners out)
1 lightweight linen jacket
1 pair no-iron khaki(very useful, E. Bauer)
4 pair cotton shorts
1 pair lightweight sweatpants
short-sleeved black turtleneck
5 pair underpants
4 bras
4 pair cotton socks
1 pair birkenstock sandals
1 pair tennis shoes (wore these a lot)
1 pair Teva's (good for the rain)
1 pair boxers to sleep in
satin pj's (if cold, which I was)
bathing suit
plastic rain poncho (could get there)
lightweight fleece pants and jacket for plane *3
1 pair fleece socks

Clothes for Kiley
9 onsies
1 sleeveless jumper
2 thermal pants
2 cotton outfits
2 sleepers
warm fleecy cotton sleeper *2
sweatpants and jacket
red fleece pants & onsie
1 white sweater
2 pair socks
2 bibs (needed more)
2 sun hats

24 packs granola bars (left some)
30 packets of oatmeal
3 bags peppermint candy (melted)
jolly ranchers (also melted)
can iced tea mix (very good!)
decaf tea bags

Useful Odds and Ends
Sports towel (small but absorbent)
Journal and pens
Scrapbook and mounting squares
Neck pillow for plane
Book, Lonely Planet Guide to Vietnam and HCMC
List of addresses for postcards and emails
Gifts for staff, officials, orphanage

Things for 3 Month Old Baby
176 disposable diapers (8/day) *5
280 baby wipes (didn't use half these)
1 small container travel wipes
1 changing pad
3 lap pads (didn't use)
4 cloth diapers (spit-up cloths, needed more)
2 baby towels & 4 wash clothes
7 cans Isomil formula (110 feedings total) *6
3 cans Similac formula
3 flannel receiving blankets
1 fleece blanket (for the plane)
plastic bathtub (great idea, she loved it!)
1 thermos *7
Baby Bjorn (front pack to carry baby)

Meds for Kiley
ear syringe
nasal aspirator
baby soap and shampoo
baby saline (for the plane)
hand sanitizer
medicine spoon
baby nail clippers
oragel (didn't use, she wasn't teething yet)
baby lotion and powder
Acticin (for scabies)
Amoxil (antibiotic in powder form)
glycerin suppositories
infant Tylanol
Kao Lectrolyte (4 powder packets)
2 passifiers
toys for her, 1 rattle, 2 teething rings, 1 Tigger, 1 bear rattle

Adult Medicines *4
Lariam 250 mg (maleria)
sun screen (hardly used)
extra contacts
sleeping aids (Tylenol P.M.)
hydrocortisone cream
Afrin Saline (for plane)
Tavist D
Mosquito repellent (didn't use)
syringes (adult and child) *8
cough drops
alcohol wipes
4 pair sterilized gloves
Cipro & Ceplalexin (antibiotics)

sturdy cardboard picture tube *9
travel duct tape
sink stopper
travel clothes line
Ivory liquid soap
heating coil (used once)
book light
alarm clock
adoption travel journal
Vietnamese phrase book
earplugs (didn't use much)
sunhat, sunglasses
money pouches (2)
necessary documents

Personal Toiletries
toothbrush and paste
deoderant, lotion
contact stuff
soap, razor
shampoo and conditioner
Lubriderm lotion with sunscreen (SPF 15) (a great product to take)

Bottles and Such for Baby *10
1, 8 oz Johnson's Healthy Flow
1, 8 oz Evenflow
2, 4 oz Playtex
2, 4 oz Johnson Healthy Flow
115, 4 oz liners *11
25 8oz liners
bottle brush (very important)

Baby Sundries

zip lock bags (useful for a variety of things, I took a lot of these and was glad)
diaper disposal bags (these are especially useful when staying in hotels, I used one a day and they worked really well)

Camera Equipment *12
Camcorder with 3 batteries and 4 2 hour tapes
AC Adaptor for electrical appliances (mainly camcorder) and charger for camcorder
Canon EOS Rebal Camera, Zoom lens, Flash
Canon Sure Shot
Polariod One Step (Huge waste of space and money, it didn't work, great idea, but not dependable)
36 rolls of 200 speed film (used 18 rolls)
1 Kodak One Use Vista Camera


1 huge duffel bag on wheels

1 large duffel bag with wheels built in (both great bags, both from LL Bean)

1 extra-large backpack for all my documents and camera and camcorder gear. (another great LL Bean bag, it can be carried as a backpack or has a handle on the side and can be carried by the handle. It also has a waterproof compartment in the bottem which can come in handy with a baby! I use it now as a all-day diaper bag if I go anywhere with the baby.)

1 diaper bag (I actually got a hiker's day pack from Jansport that has a carrier on either end for bottles, and has handles or a strap to go over the shoulder.) On the way over, this served as my purse!

1 carry on bag on wheels (packed with all the meds)

1 purse for my mother

In Vietnam, I bought so much stuff that I had to purchase another huge suitcase, a Smasonite on wheels for $30. (would have been around $200 in the States) at a shop near the Binh Thuan Market. Can also find them at the Tax Department Store. Was well-worth it to me to get an additional suitcase to bring home things for the baby!

Additonal Note

The only thing I wish I'd taken that I didn't was a small audio recorder. That would have helped me keep track of thoughts and ideas that I just didn't have time to write down. It was helpful to take with me some scotch tape, paper clips and a few additional envelopes to help keep track of receipts.

Footnotes on Packing List

1. I took and love a washable linen that packs well and holds up well. I like the Flax washable linen, but almost any washable linen will work well.

2. Remember that most of these children have been in a place where there is no airconditioning, and the really cold ariplane air is going to be tough on them, so pack something really warm for them to wear on the plane.

3. The same goes for you, if you are like me and find airplanes too cold most of the time! I got a nice, lightweight fleece pants and jacket from the Travel Smith catalog which worked well.

4. We packed all our meds and papers in a carry on bag that went on the plane with us, you don't want to lose those meds in transit!

5. I used the typical American child as my model to calculate this number of diapers, but much to my surprise, my daughter was only taking in about 8 oz of formula a day when I got her, so obviously she didn't pee as much, and therefore needed far fewer diapers than I thought. I would take 100 if I were to do it again, you can always get Pampers at the Tax Department Store in HCMC.

6. My daughter was lactose intolerant ( as are approximately 30 % of Asian people, however we didn't know this for a while. She had colic, so it was hard to know. She wasn't taking in the typical 24 oz a day, so I only used 2 cans of Similac for the 2 weeks I had her there before we came home. Good idea to take some of both. Many people leave them on the formula they are already on, but my daughter was small and needed a formula with more nutrition right away. (I was told this by the doctor in HCMC.)

7. It would be a good idea to find out how you are expected to fix the baby's formula before you go, as that will determine what you will need in terms of Thermos size, etc. We didn't need to make our own hot water, the agency brought us some twice a day, so we really didn't need a big thermos, just one for keeping water hot when we had to take the babies out for several hours. At home now, I use a large one and fill it twice a day, and then don't need to worry about having to boil water each time I make a bottle.

8. In the unlikely event you or your baby will need to have an injection, it is important that you take with you a pediatric syringe and also one for you and your spouse or traveling companion. The foreign medical clinic in HCMC is very well-equipped, but that is not the case out in the provinces, and should you need an immediate injection, there is no guaranteethat the syringe used on you hasn't been used before. Vietnam is a very poor country, and things like syringes are usually reused many times out of necessity.

9. This item is very useful for bringing home pictures, posters, and other items. It can also be packed with baby clothes, diapers and other things so as not to take up too much space!

10. Everything I had read said to take a variety of bottles, disposable and otherwise, and also a variety of nipples, as the child is often very picky about what they are used to. When you think about it, this is not the time you want to be changing that for them too, as it is often the only security they have during a highly stressful time for them. As it turned out, I didn't need any of the bottles I brought, because our agency gave us 2 bottles, the same kind the babies were used to at the Children's Centre.

11. The bottle liners I took with me came in really handy, I still use them at home! I measure out the formula, and wrap them up with rubber bands, and carry them in the diaper bag. It was helpful on the plane too, I made up 30 packets already premeasured, and all I needed was to add that to hot water. It certainly made life easier!

12. Remember when you enter Vietnam, whether in Hanoi or HCMC, fill out the customs forms and write out all the cameras, camcorders, etc. you bring into the country. If you don't, you may have to pay a hefty fine when you leave, as they can claim that you bought the equipment in Vietnam. Before you leave home, make a list of your equipment and the serial numbers, take 2 copies with you (kept in separate places) and leave one at home, should your things be stolen.

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