Big Questions

We talked on the phone last night with our agency about what to expect from here to travel. Wow. We are getting close!


When we began this journey, I knew in the deepest part of myself that it would be God who brings these girls home, and that we would only be His hands and feet here on earth.

How incredibly I feel that now. I am overwhelmed with our inadequacy, overwhelmed with all the needs, overwhelmed with what God has done so far and what I know deep within me that He is yet to do.

I feel like we are being swept away on a current of God’s grace and provision, a current that is so beyond my ability alone to navigate, yet miraculously we are still afloat.

I have feelings of joy, sadness, fear, confusion, awe, inadequacy. Name it, and I feel it.

I read a post by an adoptive mother yesterday called, Letter to My {Pre-Adoption} Self, that really expressed feelings I’ve had lately, and we are not even at the end of our journey.

You can read it here.

Another thing we realized after our conversation with sweet Karla from our agency is that for every answer there seems to be so many more questions. So, I thought I would ask you who have gone before us some of these questions.

How much clothing should I take for the girls?

Will they wear what I pick out?

Will they bring any clothing with them?

Should I plan to shop for them in China?

I do not see many Chinese teens in dresses. Do they wear them?

Will there be much down time when we will need to have something for the girls to do while we are waiting? What should I take for them? Sketch pads? Colored pencils?

What kind of translators do you recommend?

How much money should we plan to take for food? We are not big shoppers.

Since everything is expedited for these adoptions, we will need to purchase tickets the very last minute before we travel. How much should we expect round trip tickets to China will be in September purchased at the very last second?

I think we have underestimated our expenses again. Wow, this is expensive!

I could go on and on!

Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with me!


A Pre-Adoptive Mom on the Edge

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  1. Marny says:

    Hi Diane! So exciting that you are getting so close! My daughter is only 3, so I don’t have answers to all of your questions, but here are my experiences FWIW:

    Gracie came with only the clothes she was wearing. I think that is typical for kids coming from the orphanage. Kids who are fostered migt bring more, but often not, I think. I didn’t buy any clothes in China (except a few traditional outfits), but a lot of people find that a nice way to bond with their older child (showing them that you will meet their needs). I would take a few outfits and plan to buy a few. You can have laundry done there, if needed. Also, they won’t mind wearing the same thing several times — that’s a cultural difference. Our guide in province was very chic and fashion-foward, and she wore the same dress pretty much every day.

    There will be some down time during official appointments (the finalization, the medical, at the consulate), but not a huge amount. There will be a lot of unscheduled time at the hotel, and you will want to have things to do so that if you don’t feel like venturing out (if anyone is tired or sick or noncooperative or whatever), you will have stuff to do. I think sketchpads and colored pencils are a great idea, and maybe other”crafty” stuff — beads, pipe cleaners, oragami paper, stickers, etc. Newly adopted teens are often (but not always) “young” for their age in terms of their interests. Maybe a portable DVD player if you have or can borrow one, and the guide can help you buy some DVDs they like. Nail polish and hair pretties.

    Food is generally quite cheap. Breakfast will be included at your hotel, and it is ELABORATE and substantial (familiar western breakfast foods, plus all kinds of Chinese food — dim sum, rice, noodles, etc). We usually ate a big breakfast and then a small lunch, sometimes in the room (ramen noodles from 7-11 or the like), and then got some dinner. Hotel restaurants are pricier, but you can usually find cheap and tasty places outside the hotel. Ask the guide to help you locate places.

    September is a fairly good time to travel in terms of air fare, I think. I used a travel agent and it was so worth it to have someone do the research and to know that he had my back if there was a problem with the flights (which fortunately their wasn’t). You are mid-Atlantic area, right? United nonstop from Dulles to Bejing is a great flight, although Philly might be closer for you?

    • Mark McCaslin says:

      Wow, Marny, thanks for the advice, I (we) really appreciate it! We are only 30 minutes from Philly, but we have flown out of Baltimore before – that’s about 2 1/2 hours away. I was assuming that we would have to fly west to L.A. or Chicago, then on the China. I never thought of checking with a travel agent!

      Thanks again for the input!

      – Mark
      Mark McCaslin recently posted..Faith In The FireMy Profile

  2. Desiree says:

    We have adopted four times in five years. The last being just 2 mths ago. Joshua was 6 and came only with the clothes on his back, he was fostered. We purchased all the tickets last minute. In spetember it will be a bit less expensive than in summer but still~ Try using a service that helps adotive parents. (Sue Sorrells is who we used) Also begged for FF miles from friend and family. We went from Cleveland straight to Hong Kong.

    LIke Marny said breakfast is included and eat well, usually we eat snacks through the day and purchase dinner. Pack things like peanut butter, (can buy bread in CHina) Tuna in packs, instant mac n cheese. ect. Can make many of those in your hotel room.

    Just a thought but our girls may act and look younger..our son was 6/7 but acted and wore size 3/4.

    We brought coloring books, crayons small games. A used nintendo DSI and he loved them. ALot of hotel room time between appointments and such and we weren’t really into to much touring. The kids were greiving and twice came to us with pnemonia.

    • Diane says:

      Thanks Desiree!

      I think our girls are small too. We are not even sure Evangeline is three feet tall, and we think Eliza is about four. I’m trying to figure out what sizes to buy.

      I will pack some food. Good idea for down days!


  3. Gloria says:

    I was wondering if you could have people donate their miles to purchase your tickets. I’ve seen other adoptive parents put the word out there. I’m not sure if this would help but it’s worth a try. Praying your girls home!

  4. Nancy says:

    Hi Diane—I wish I had more answers to your questions. I hope my little letter helped you a bit. It can be a lonely journey and the online community can help it feel otherwise. If I could do that a bit, I’m very happy.

    If it were me, I’d plan on going shopping with the girls and have them pick out some clothing. I think that would be a nice way to say “we’re going to provide for you.” For both the child we adopted and our teens that traveled, we loved our phones downloaded with all sorts of games. And an ipad device (or ours was actually off brand and far cheaper) again downloaded with lots of games of many levels. These tend to keep teen and tweens occupied for a long while.

    The first thing we did in each city was go shopping at a grocery store and brought food back to the hotel room. Snacks, noodles, easy peasy food that would sometimes substitute for costly eating out. And the grocery is a fun outing anyway. Maybe take the girls with you on this excursion too so they can pick out some snack foods that they’d like.

    All our children only came with the clothing they were wearing.
    Beware the “free” breakfast at the hotel. the price is usually built into the price of the room at usually $20 for two people. If 4 people eat breakfast, you can be charged an extra $20 per person for the other two people. That adds up fast.

    Blessings and congrats on getting so close!


  5. Julia says:

    If you can go via Delta, I have 15,000 miles at the moment. Looks like it is 112,500 per ticket. I know that is just a drop in the bucket, but if you go that direction let me know and I will get them to you

  6. Katrina says:

    Hi Diane. If you decide to bring a used nintendo DS, I’m almost certain that with the help of my nephew we could hook you up 😉 Just write me and I could send it to you along with some games.

  7. Karen says:

    Hi Diane ! Emily went through her picture book from her orphanage last night. She told me she really misses your Evangeline and wants to see her soon !
    Both of my girls came with only the clothes they were wearing. I traveled with clothes I thought would fit but I also purchased a couple of outfits while in China. If you have a DS, we used My Chinese Coach. It was pretty thorough and had something like 10,000 words and phrases and it only cost about $20 !
    There is a lot of down time. I would try to estimate sizes and pack swim suits. Going to the hotel pool is a great diversion and good exercise ! Emily liked it so much she announce one morning “Bu Zaofan hui yoyo !”. No breakfast go swimming !!!! My older daughter was able to explain first breakfast second swimming but not until she pouted all through the breakfast buffet without eating. 🙂
    The province you will be in for Evangeline is where the Terracotta warriors are. It’s a fairly short drive and I am sure your guide will be taking you there. Do you know where you will be staying in Xian and Guangzhou ?

  8. Connie J says:

    I’m sorry I can’t remember all your questions 🙂 We are using LL and ‘sweet Karla’ for the 6th time!
    When we adopted our son who was 2 months from aging out, he had very little clothing with him (like a pair of undies, a pair of shorts and a tee we had sent him). He was much smaller than we expected, so I’m glad we didn’t take much with us. We had time to shop while in China, although he wasn’t very interested. If you can take a few items that are ‘flexible’ in size, that would be great!
    As for down time, take some things for the girls to do, like colored pencils, paper, deck of cards. We used cards to *try* to teach our son English. Some games that don’t require a lot of instruction like Jinga.
    Blessings to you!!!
    Connie J recently posted..In 3 days!My Profile

  9. Jeanette says:

    I have been to China twice now. I suggest you plan to buy your girls some casual clothes in China. You will need to buy them shoes as they will come in plastic sandals or flip flops. I do not bother taking any food to China. You can buy almost anything there. Your guide will be able to direct you to any stores you need. There are 7-11s everywhere. Take your girls to the local supermarket and let them select the instant noodles and snacks they like. They will not be used to western food with its dairy and wheat staples. Keep them on familiar Chinese food till you come home to avoid tummy upsets. Become familiar with your nearest Chinese grocery so you can continue to buy familiar foods once home. Buy lots of Chinese books and dvds there for them to bring home. They are very cheap and will help them retain their Mandarin as well as being comforting. Learn some basic Mandarin yourself as it really helps. let them use a cheap digital camera and let them take lots of photos of their friends and carers and home town. Do go back and visit the orphanage after you adopt them. Get phone numbers and contact addresses of people who are important to them.
    Find out what name they are known by, The official name on the paperwork may not be familiar. Learn to pronounce their Chinese name correctly. They may choose to keep their Chinese name as it is part of their identity. They will need to learn some more English before they can decide to take a western name. My dd has her full CHinese name as part of her name and uses both her western name in every day life and Chinese name in CHinese community.
    I wish you the very best.

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