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China Adoption Pack-List

Before I forget what we packed and what we needed and didn’t need–I better right it down for any mommas who might ask me our packing 2 cents. (Got an email just today–and thought it’d be a great thing to share…this is for you Katie:) When you finally get that TA–it can be so hard to THINK. SO–I’m just going to include what we DID need and what I’m glad that we DID have with us…and anything that I WISH we had packed!

We set one room aside for packing–our little one’s nursery–so I could just toss things on our checklist in here and close the door so no littles would rearrange or move things for us;)…

We took 2 large suitcases. One full of things for our sweet ones and things for other sweet ones at his orphanage. The other big suitcase was full of mommy and daddy’s things:). We did take our 7 and 8 year olds–but they packed EVERYTHING they needed for 15 days in their carry-ons. Pack light is our motto–and there was really nothing we needed–so I’m glad we packed the way we did! For those reading this later–we traveled in June 2013–and I’m sure things haven’t changed too much if it’s within a few years:).

Here’s our little travel crew BEFORE we took off! We took the big 2 kids with us–left the 2 younger ones with grandparents…and off we went to bring home number 5!

Q-tips (travel pack)
Wet Ones & Disinfectant Wipes (4-5 travel packs)
Travel Conditioner (All the hotels have shampoo)
Face Wash Cleansing Pads (you don’t have to worry about any spills)
Travel Disinfectants (the more the better if you ask me!)
Travel Tissue packs (2 or 3 packs – just for the squatty potties you encounter:)
Travel size toothpaste (2)
Feminine products (The stores there do NOT sell the same kind of things we use:)
Little Toothbrush for new one
Fluoride-free Toothpaste (assume this is a new thing and they are going to swallow it:)
Travel size toothbrushes for all travelers
Sunscreen—Maybe (We packed sunscreen but the smog is so bad there that you really don’t see the sun. We never used it!)

Anti-nausea medication with dosage for different children (we have one that often gets really sick when traveling)
Neosporin or Polysporin
Azithromycin (antibitotic for baby)-Yes
Infant thermometer
Advil (Rich was so thankful I packed this for his back–the mattresses in the hotels were like rocks:)
Melatonin (You can find liquid melatonin at Publix! This is great to use to get back on the right time zone to help you sleep!)
Pink Eye Medication (Glad we brought this!)
Pepto Bismol Chewable Tablets
Travel Pro (No one got sick–and we even gave this to our new one as soon as he was with us! Just one spray for kids and 2 for adults! Keeps you well naturally! You can find it HERE.)
Quiet Digestion (Again–we are all about prevention and doing so naturally:) Rich and I took 3 a day as long as we had no tummy trouble. Rich ate something that wasn’t so great–so per our holistic doc–he did 3 – 3x a day on that day:). All was well! THANKFUL for this! If we could have only packed 2 things in the medical topic–it would be this and Travel Pro! You can find it HERE.)
Tummy Qi – This is what we packed for or little one and the kids! We gave them 2 dropper fulls a day to keep their tummy’s healthy while we were traveling. You can find it HERE.)

Travel size laundry liquid detergent (4) – I was SO glad we did this!!! I’ll spare you the details–but there were several occasions I had to wash clothes in the hotel tub and it really couldn’t wait until the morning!
Small Scissors – strange I packed these. BUT I used them SEVERAL TIMES! Glad I had them!
Plastic Bags: Plastic Grocery bags, Tall Kitchen bags, Snack size Ziploc, Small size Ziploc
Clothes pins (These are great if you are in a situation where you have to wash clothes in the tub and hang them to dry! Most showers there have a pull string for hanging wet clothes to dry. IF NOT–you can use the clothes pins to hang drying children clothing from curtains and such!)
Snack containers (We took THESE.)
Water Purifier – This is GREAT to have and worth the investment as your husband can take this camping later:). You can fill up water from the sink and purify it. This is probably safer and more reliable than even water bottles. When you get to a hotel late at night and there’s no time to go buy water bottles–at least you have this! You can buy one HERE.)
Small Flashlight – Our power went out for an entire day:) This is great to have at night when you need to find something and not wake everyone else too:)

Toddler/Child/New One Clothes and items:
3-4 pajamas
7 shirts/tops
7 shorts/pants/bottoms
7 socks
1 zip up sweatshirt
Swimsuit (We used this a LOT at the Guangzhou hotel!)
Baby Carrier – Even though our little one was 2 years old–we still used this a lot and were glad we had it!
Crib Sheet Saver – We were thankful we brought an ultimate crib sheet to put in the pack and play the hotel provided. They had sheets–but with stains on them–this just was nice to have.
Diapers – We were told you can just buy them there. AND YOU CAN. BUT–they were very expensive. I just wished we had packed all we would need the entire time. I spent too much time figuring out how to get to a store that sells them in Guangzhou and was shocked at the cost once we got there. Pack these if you will need them!)
Swim Diapers – Many of the hotels have pools. I didn’t have these but wish I had packed them! We took him swimming in a regularly diaper and it got really heavy and not fun to clean up later!
Wipes (2 refill packs)
2 Bottles – We did not pack these and had to go buy them! Wish we’d packed them! I thought a 2 year old wouldn’t be on a bottle–but momma was wrong. This is great for bonding too–so just be safe and pack them if you have a little 3 or under.
Bottle Brush
Disposable gloves (Just bring them. Assume your little has picked up parasites. You’ll know within a few diaper changes if you’ll need them. But PACK THEM! You’ll thank me later.)
Travel formula cup if your little one is still on formula (our 2 year old was!) You can buy formula THERE!
Bibs made of silicone for easy cleaning.
Small toys – We were so thankful to have a few small things to play with at the Civil Affairs and Consulate appointments. Think lots of waiting with a little one–and what would entertain them.
Diaper Bag – Because our little was 2, we got him a cute little backpack at Target and put diapers, wipes, a bottle, snacks and a toy in it for each outing.

Mom clothes
2 pairs pants
2 skirts
3 shorts
7 tops
2 pairs of PJs
7 undies and 3 bras
One pair Toms
One Pair tennis shoes.
Flip flops.
4 pairs of socks
swimsuit & swimsuit coverup (used a lot at Guangzhou hotel)
Small/Light umbrella

Dad Clothes
3 pairs of pants/jeans
Lots of T-shirts
3 Dress shirts
5 pairs of shorts
2 long sleeve shirts
8 pairs socks
7 pairs underwear
One pair casual/dress shoes
One pair tennis shoes
Baseball Hat

For traveling siblings–Made sure we had 7 days worth of clean things for each and they packed everything in their carry ons like rockstars! They also packed their swimsuits and coverups–so glad we packed these! They also brought books, travel games, colored pencils and fun mosaics to color and we loaded up our Kindle with fun books and educational games for them too.

File Folder for paperwork (I labeled each section so we could easily find things: medical/civil affairs/consulate/extra copies/etc)
PAPERWORK + MONEY (travel cash + all fees for orphanage/civil affairs/etc)
Small Notebook for taking notes that can fit in diaper bag/backpack/purse (used this more than I thought!)
Compact Bible
Bubble wrap to wrap breakables if needed for trip home-Yes
Toddler backpack
Headphones (BEST PURCHASE EVER! We bought noise cancellation ones for me and Rich, nice ones for the kids and even a pair for our new one. SO thankful we had these for the long flights!)
2 Travel Neck Pillows (My kids swiped mine–so we could have used another!)
Chinese Children’s Music – Downloaded this on my iPhone and it was PRICELESS! We memorized “Rock-a-Bye” baby in Chinese BEFORE we left–wasn’t easy–but it was THE best use of time EVER. Our sweet boy sings this back to us–and has been one of the best bonding things we’ve had! THIS IS OUR TREASURE HERE.
Video Camera, Digital Camera and Battery Chargers

Y’all–there is pretty good food in China–so you don’t really need to back much. We are pretty healthy, organic eaters-BUT we did eat McDonald’s in Beijing and Guangzhou–and it was some good stuff:) You can buy peanut butter, jelly, break and all kinds of stuff that would weigh too much to pack in Carrefour (like Walmart or Target)–they are in just about every city! Just ask your hotel concierge where Carrefour is and you’ll be SET!
2 boxes of granola bars (great for snacks)
1 box Trader Joes instant coffee (most hotels have coffee–but a few you’ll be better off using their hot water and using these)

Gifts: We wanted to take things for the orphanage caregivers, Civil Affairs and Guides–something that wasn’t made in China:)
8 gift bags and tissue paper
8 travel mugs
8 packets of local coffee
–Most agencies give you a list and ideas here! OR you can be creative!

You can have your clothes washed by laundry services in Guangzhou. It’s cheaper at one of the places on Shamian Island than through the hotel services-and be sure to request they also DRY your laundry. They will also deliver to your hotel for a small fee. We were fortunate enough to stay in a place in our son’s province that HAD a washer and dryer–we were staying at a friend’s place there–so it was perfect. BUT in most cases–by the time you get to Guangzhou you’ll need to do the laundry to finish out the last week. We also took the subways in Beijing and Guangzhou instead of Taxis–MUCH faster and cheaper!

If you are reading this and getting ready to take off on a journey of a LIFETIME–congratulations! Try not to stress out about the packing! Anything you forget you can find there! We downloaded Google Voice so we could text our family here for free–and we Skyped for free also. All the hotels had Wi-fi–so we were able to update our blog using a VPN (Panda Pow worked great for us) and email too. Try to focus on the journey ahead and all the sweetness it holds–and journal as much as you can to remember each sweet day! You can look back on our journey on my blog just a big earlier than this post as we just returned home about 2 weeks ago. Our little man is already doing so great–and we are so thankful for all the Lord has done and will do. May you be blessed in your journey to your little love–and may you be filled with strength, rest, peace and joy as you embark on this beautiful trip to bring home your child! Laugh a lot–enjoy every moment and don’t sweat the small stuff while you are there. It’s going to be AMAZING!

Our travel crew leaving the orphanage…

And our crew finally all together at the airport after returning home…

FINALLY! Young party of 7—ALL together!

Be blessed! It’s a journey you will forever treasure!


P.S. So–another part of our packing included packing for the 2 children we were leaving with family to care for while we were gone. This is our 2nd adoption overseas–and both times Mama Judy has put together gifts–little happies–for the children staying behind to open each day. This time my 3 and 4 year olds didn’t travel–so they got to open ONE gift each day. It served as a countdown and fun distraction to how many days until they would see us again!

Maria - July 4, 2013 - 11:55 am

Thank you so much for posting this! We are leaving for China in 2 weeks to go get our baby girl (she’s 2 also). This list will be SO helpful for us.
Thank you!

Mary - July 8, 2013 - 6:56 am

Thank you! We’re awaiting TA and supposed to go in August. This will be our first child (a son). This is a great help. I love the cheerfulness of your post!

Cindy - July 8, 2013 - 12:40 pm

I am so happy for your family! Congratulations to you all. He is adorable.

Janice - August 4, 2013 - 9:13 pm

I just found your packing list and we are getting ready to leave for China in 3 weeks. How did you fit all that stuff in just 2 suitcases? How did you fit all your kids clothes in their carryons?

admin - August 4, 2013 - 10:07 pm


We actually had EXTRA room in our 2nd suitcase! SOO…we took (along with all this on the list) a backpack, 6 outfits and several books–a massive care package for another little girl’s family who wanted to send a care package. All her stuff from her soon-to-be parents took up HALF of one of our suitcases–so if you aren’t taking things for people too you should even have extra room. My kids are just 8 and 7 so their clothes are little. A carry on was plenty big for a week’s worth of clothes–and we traveled in the summer–and shorts and tees do not take up nearly as much room as sweaters and jackets (this might be tighter for winter travelers). There’s really no need to take lots of snacks either as there is PLENTY of edible yummy snacks in all the little shops on the streets:). Please feel free to contact me through my contact page if you have specific questions! Happy to give you my cell number too if you have questions too!



Ashley - January 19, 2014 - 10:39 am

I googled “packing for China adoption” and your blog popped up! This list looks great – THANK YOU! We are hoping to travel to get our daughter in April or May.

Many Blessings to your family, Ashley