Ask an Adoption Question #1: What is the best way to book flights for an upcoming newborn adoption placement?


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Exciting news! We are starting a new blog series called “Ask an Adoption Question”.

It is very simple. You ask a question about infant adoption – I answer it

This Q & A series will help lots of folks who have the same or similar questions.adoption question

What is your adoption question? 

Send me your question via email.

Alright – let’s get started! Here’s the very first Adoption Q & A and the question comes from Gary in Washington:

Hi Tim,

My wife and I live in Washington and are trying to book a round trip flight to Missouri where the expectant mother lives. She’s due on June 16, and we were planning on going from June 12 to July 1, but are confused as to the best approach to booking a flight.

For example, on Delta’s website, they offer refundable tickets but are charging a ridiculous amount for them. We also thought about non refundable tickets which are much cheaper, but are not sure if buying travel insurance makes any sort of sense or not (isn’t that only for completely canceling a trip, not re-booking?).

Then there’s the timing of the return flight. Although she’s due on the 16th, she could be late, causing us to stay later into July. I’m not sure if we should give padding and book a return flight for July 4. Worse case scenario, if we need to come back earlier, we’re not paying as much as we would if we have to re-book for a later flight close to the holiday.

Also, do some airlines offer discounts for adoption-related flights? Delta said they don’t.

As you see, I’m all over the map here and would appreciate some direction/advice.


Hi, Gary!

First of all – congratulations on the match and upcoming adoption! Wow – how exciting is that! June 16 will come fast!

Thanks for great question. My wife and have similar experiences with our first two adoptions, so I applaud you for trying to figure this out ahead of time.

For our son’s adoption, he was due late September. We wanted to be there for his birth (and his birthparents wanted us there too). We also wanted to have plenty of time with him and his birthparents after he was born. We researched flights so we knew the departure times each day and how long it would take us to get there.

So the plan was for our son’s birthparents to call us anytime night or day when they were going to the hospital. We would then buy tickets for the next available flight (most flights weren’t booked solid) with a return flight for 2 weeks later. We knew there was a chance we’d have to change the return flight but it was MUCH cheaper than buying changeable tickets.

Our son ended up being 11 days late so it was a good plan for us. We got the call at 2am. We immediately jumped online, bought the tickets and were on the 6am flight. We made it to the hospital less than an hour after our son was born (awesome!).

We stayed in the state for 10 days and spent a lot of quality time with our son’s birthparents. We had to pay the $150/ticket change fee for the return home flight but it was worth it.

My advice:

  • Don’t buy a refundable ticket – they are waaaaay too expensive.
  • You can buy travel insurance if you end up canceling your flight all together (let’s hope you don’t have to), but insurance doesn’t help you with re-booking or changing flights. You may be able to cancel the flight and use the credit to fly at a later date. Here’s the explanation from Delta’s website: You have one year from the ticket’s original issue date to reschedule your travel without losing the full value of the ticket (less any applicable change fees).
  • Buy a non-refundable ticket. If you want to be there for the birth and time away from home isn’t a concern, then book the ticket before she is due as you described in your email. It may make sense to book the return flight on July 4th (or the 3rd) if those flights are more expensive and tend to be booked solid. You’ll likely have to change the reservation anyway.
  • Try to find a discount on airfare (you’ll have some leg-work to do). I haven’t found an airline that will offer any discount or change fee waiver for families adopting domestically. There are plenty that do this for families adopting internationally. Delta Airlines has an adoption airfare program. Contact them to see if they would offer a discount for domestic adoptions. 
  • See also my 18 Money Saving Tips For Domestic Adoption Travel.

Hope this helps!
Great question – these situations affect a lot of hopeful adoptive families.

Thanks so much.

Here’s Gary’s response:


You’ve been a tremendous help; thanks for taking so much time to answer all of my concerns.

My wife actually had a good conversation with a Delta rep. over the phone who claims that there’s a way they could waive a change fee for a situation like a delayed or early birth. We’ll have to confirm that of course with a manager or supervisor when we call next.

Again, thanks…and I like your suggestion of keeping a sense of humor through the entire journey. I feel I’m going to need it. 😉


What is your adoption question? It’s easy! Send me your question via email.


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