Monday, September 25, 2006

Getting There and Bringing Them Home

Over the next few posts I will see if I can do a bit of a trip recap. It does offer different perspective to be home from China a few weeks and think back on the mayhem that involves taking a 4 1/2 year old, 2 parents, and 1 grandparent from the Midwest to Newark to Beijing. Take a gander around Beijing for a few days and then fly everyone down to Guangzhou for 12 days. Oh yes, and don't forget about picking up the 9 month old along the way. (This is where the packing gets dicey.) Then take a 3 hour flight from Guangzhou to Beijing, layover for 5 hours and then fly to Newark. Layover 2 hours, wait on the crowed runway for and hour before another 2 hour flight home to where corn grows and people bar-b-que chickens and steaks on their backyard grills. (Not one snake swimming in a tank immediately before becoming dinner here baby!)

There are about 30,000 China adoption packing lists on the internet nowadays. Go download 15 of them and entertain yourself immediately after referral. Then use your common sense. Don't bring a coffee maker, I know I know some of you are little barristers in the making but at the 5 star hotels you can indeed get a cup of joe. Cappiccino at the WS is to die for. You can also leave the flares, large garbage bags, and duct tape at home. Yes, it is the real truth...I've been to China twice and never needed a roll of duct tape. I have no idea why it shows up on over 75% of packing lists.

Here is what you should bring.
Very few clothes. Launder there people. It is a royal pain in the ass to have too many clothes. I swear when you get there, are woozy from the caterpillar fungus, and sleep deprived you won't give a rats ass that you are wearing the same pair of birkenstocks for the 12th day in a row. Tyra Banks does not do China and there is no cat walk. Even our guides were super casual this time.

Pack tons of ziplocs. Pack all your stuff in them and label label label. Then toss in the black sharpie marker to the suitcase. Ziploc your stuff you will need for the first leg of the trip (perhaps Beijing or Hong Kong) and pack that stuff on the top of the suitcase! That way you will not be messing up the WHOLE suitcase early in the trip. Pack the baby's stuff in separate ziplocs at the bottom of the suitcase, won't need that until you meet him or her and packing neatly will be a lost cause by then anyway. When you get to China don't discard the ziplocs. Keep them in the hotel rooms and use them as diaper baggies, dirty clothes containers, extra gift storage, wet swimsuit storage etc... there are 1000s of uses.

If you are traveling with a small child other than the one you are adopting make 2 bags full of fun stuff to do! One is for getting Bubba to China and one is for getting Bubba home. Don't let Bubba get into the second bag until you are leaving Guangzhou. (Hide it in the suitcase.) That way she will have a NEW set of coloring books, markers, toys etc... for the long trip home. This tip saved our weary asses, people. Man, was she jazzed to learn she had NEW crayons and NEW coloring books for the trip home.

Don't take the fabulous new gymboree clothes to China. I know you want to. I know some of you think you NEED to. But don't, save it for her coming home. Here is why. Chances are it might not all fit anyway and since it is expensive Gymboree you won't want to ditch it or donate it. The laundry ladies might even lose it. Ava is still missing some socks and some pjs. If you see a size 4T hot pink Carters jammie set on the streets of Guangzhou near the Lucky Laundry tell Jessie I want it sent home pronto! Here is the other thing, once you meet your baby and see China you will be overcome with emotion and want to do something for these fabulous but poor people who live and work in orphanages. I know it was purely ease my western guilt but I asked our guide to donate all of Olivia's in China clothes and left over diapers and meds to the next orphanage she visited. She happily took everything and told me she would be visiting a Guangzhou orphange next Tuesday. She had almost ourgrown several items anyway, and I knew our friends with great taste would make sure Olivia got a new outfit or two when we reached Western soil.

Don't skimp on the meds for you or the baby. Bring it all. Just walk into your local CVS and open your wallet and have the clerks toss one of everything into that red cart. Don't need a sleep aide? Ha on you, buy it anyway. All normal bodily functions and the probability of them working properly in China are off bets on this trip. Take advil, take cold meds, take cough meds, immodium, stool softeners, buy one of every baby med that is colorfully displayed. Also, buy more than 1 baby tylenol, if your baby needs it for 12 days one little bottle ain't gonna cut it. Yes, you can get most of these things in China but who the hell wants to have to navigate a western pharmacy run at 3 am when you have a screaming infant and a screaming husband? Not me, sister. I took the pharmacy...left the baby toys and took the pharmacy. And, I'd do it again.

I'd do the whole trip again. Man, I love this adoption travel shit.


Anonymous said...


I keep meaning to ask, why does everything need to be in Ziplock bags? I've never understood that?

Lisa Fero

Johnny said...

You know, you can tell them....but they never listen.

I lectured about crisp $100 bills, let someone (cough, cough) I know as madly scrambling to get bills before leaving for China.

(they always think - nah, won't happen to me)

Good tip about the second back of goodies, though.

atomic mama said...

So that was a good post and all, thanks! But... that last line? Foreshadowing??

Julie said...

Thanks for the tips and you're right, I do, I do! want to take Gymboree to China. But I will try my best to resist.

Jacquie said...

I heart you. Thanks for all the tips.

But I'm with A-Mama........ dropping a hint on us here in that last line?

Traci said...

"All normal bodily functions and the probability of them working properly in China are off bets on this trip."~

She's not kidding people! You don't pee, you don't poop or you poop too much. Your body is a mess from the moment you touch down until you leave. It's weird and as a nurse I was always trying to figure out all the reasons why. I wasn't successful in figuring all of it out.....It's just the way it is.

After giving suppositories to four different babies I had a Dad at our door asking if I had any "Man-Sized Suppositories." Just so you know, I gave him one infant glycerin suppository and it worked beautifully!

It's a wonderful and amazing trip that I wish we could do again. It's tough at times but the sad part is, we've been home less than three weeks and I'm starting to forget things already. It makes me so sad. Enjoy yourselves and laugh a lot. The trip will be over soon enough.

Just my 2 cents.


M3 (Mary-Mia) said...

God I love this post!

Lee-Anne said...

I second M3's comment! As a packing-planner... I just love these pearls of wisdom!!!
I think I need to go to therapy... "My name's Lee-Anne, and I've started a packing list for a China trip that is, say, 12 months off?" In my defense, the wait was sposed to be 6 months.
Anyhoo... off my soapbox! Great post. Tell me... should I add a small thermos to my packing list?
Ziplock bags, have been noted.

jaj said...

Great advice - you PROMISE I won't need to bring a coffee maker? I have trouble getting verticle without my jolt of java. Seriously. Welcome home!

Space Mom said...

Hell, I use ziplocks for domestic travel! :)

Kristin said...

I am all about the Chinese laundry... bring it on, people!

Robin said...

Love this post. Even though it'll be quite awhile before we travel, you can never get too much information on what you do and don't need when you go. Thanks for all the advice.

Allison said...

Yeah, we took the expensive Gymboree and it was ALL too big. The cheapo Walmart stuff was what fit her.


I would do the trip again in a second. It was amazing and wonderful.