Other items I was glad I packed:
- Toilet paper
- A Snugli carrier for the baby
- A journal to record events for my daughter's future benefit
- A big deep suitcase, because it made an excellent crib
And -- God bless my traveling companions, Steve and Kim Leslie of Rochester, N.Y., for sharing -- extra canned formula. Once again, I had miscalculated and didn't bring enough.
Thanks, too, for the camcorder the Leslies shared. The orphanage tape they made for me will forever remain a prized possession.
Some of the items I wish I had packed:
An electric teapot, because I couldn't heat, much less boil, the tap water at the hotel to mix formula.
Warmer clothing, because October in New York may evoke "Autumn Leaves," but in Moscow, you'll be whistling "Winter Wonderland."
Oh yes, and a clothesline. Because my clothes got soaked in the icy rain and never really dried out.
Finally, here's the teary part. You'll want to bring an extra backpack or suitcase with chocolate bars, stuffed animals, puzzles and small toys. These gifts are not for your child, but for the orphanage kids. Because if you're like me, you'll want to bring them all home to a place where there's heat and food and a comforting hug. The trouble is, you can't; but you'll feel better leaving a little something behind. And by all means, push your budget enough to contribute $50 or $100 to your orphanage while you're there. As Muriel Evans of Gold River, Calif., wrote me: "I didn't realize how little they had, especially in developmental toys. Each child had one set of clothes for a week, then a clean set for the next week. I didn't bring more because we had been spending so much for the adoption that I could not see spending the extra. I was very sorry. They needed it much more than we did."
And let's face it: You owe them so much.
--By Joan Oleck
Joan Oleck is an editor at Business Week magazine. She has also written for Newsday, Salon and other national publications.