Many have inquired about my packing list (which I am happy to share, just ask, and remember- it's a work in progress!). However, everyone I have shared this with has been a first time parent and is requesting an infant as young as possible- or at least under the age of 12 months-ish. Obviously, this means they will have different needs than I, since I anticipate adopting a toddler. So, here is my list of "baby stuff" that I couldn't live without (items in italics should def go to Ethiopia with you!)
* A good thermometer. The ear thermometers are not to be used on children under 2 years old, so a quick digital thermometer to the armpit is best. Get one that has the quickest read time you can find. Practice taking a axillary (armpit) temperature on another baby so that you know what to do (babies wiggle and you have to hold them tight to keep it in place and get a good reading.
*Infants medicines: Tylenol, Motrin, gas relief drops, Little Noses, and Benadryl. I promise, you never need these medications unless you don't have them, so having them pretty much ensures your baby will be healthy. None of these medications interact with each other, so you can give them per the box directions (if baby has a fever, give Tylenol and Motrin at the same time, then scatter the doses.) Keep in mind that you may have to be creative with administering the medication if your baby spits it out (I recommend the "suck it out of the dropper" method.)Always dose your baby according to their weight, not their age!
*Crib sheets. Babies who spit up will probably get it on their crib sheet. Babies who overflow a diaper will probably get it on their crib sheet. Make sure you have enough sheets on hand that even if you have 2 (or 3 or 4) in the wash, you still have one clean. Baby blankets- those I don't think you need so many of, but again, have enough that you can make due if you have a few in the wash.
*Onesies and burp cloths. Babies who spit up (during transition of formula or change in the water- or stress!) make messes of these. Stock up.
*A good baby advice book. I referenced my Focus on the Family Complete Book of Baby and Child Care frequently, even though I rarely found anything actually wrong with Abigail- it was just nice to know what was normal. For adoptive parents, a good book about bonding and attachment would probably be helpful, too (haven't read a good one yet) and for transracial families, a good book about race would be helpful (I highly recommend Marguerite Wright's I'm Chocolate You're Vanilla: Raising Healthy Black and Biracial Children in a Race-Conscious World.)
*A good pediatrician. Find a doctor who has a doctor or nurse practitioner on-call around the clock. Many times I called (especially during the first year!) and was able to save a trip to the ER/Urgent Care. It would probably be good to have an "adoption specialist" for the transition home but also a local doc for the ongoing stuff:)
*Mom (or another parent with experience who you trust) on speed-dial! There will be a lot of times where you are not sure if it's worth calling the doctor and you will want to run it past an experienced parent. Or sometimes, you might just be going slightly nuts because you can't make it stop crying and you need to vent. Moms (and other experienced parents) understand and can really help- they can't always fix it, but they can usually help you get some perspective, regain your sanity, and feel a little better.
*Pacifiers. It might take a while to find one your child likes, but once you do- never go anywhere without it! Like mom, it might not be able to fix everything, but it does usually make baby feel a little better. And when you are in the car on a congested highway, it might be the only thing that keeps your hearing intact when baby starts to scream.
*Perspective. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Even really good parents are hard to come by. Most of us are good-enough parents. And you know what? That's good enough. And God gives us lots of grace and mercy. I promise your child won't fail out of high school because you don't read 3 books a day or practice Baby Einstein twice daily. I promise that the occasional crying fit that goes on for hours won't scar your child emotionally. And I promise that skipping naps, going to bed late, or using Benadryl now and then to get them to drift off does not make you a horrible parent. I promise.
Hope this helps all you first-timers. If I think of anything else, I'll add it and refer you back here:)