The two weeks before my husband and I left for Vietnam to pick up our daughter are pretty much a blur to me now. I do remember one thing: I always had my American Express card in my hand. I was buying everything -- diapers, bottles, clothes, formula, prescription drugs -- in sight.
It was tough to make purchasing decisions because everybody I spoke with seemed to have different, and often contradictory, opinions.
Should I bring a stroller?
"Absolutely," one couple told me. "You can't survive without one."
"Forget it," said two other families. "In Hanoi, in particular, the traffic is so bad you'll be too afraid to use it."
What about formula?
"Bring canned formula," said one couple.
"Bring powder," said another.
"Just use the stuff that the orphanage used," said a third.
It doesn't hit you until the day before you leave how impossible it is to foresee all of the situations you might confront. And, of course, this is probably one of the most important moments of your life and the last thing you want to be is unprepared.
Normally in a situation like this I would just tell you to overpack. Better safe than sorry. But then again, you have to drag all this stuff -- and your new baby -- all over Asia. Expect to be exhausted, physically and emotionally, the entire time you're there. First, there's the jet lag, and second, you are adopting a baby! Unless you're a much more stoic person than I, the emotional high will keep you in a daze the entire time you're in Vietnam.