Going to China: the Long Flight Home

July 31, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

The China trip looms large in our adoptive parent hearts and minds. We daydream about Gotcha Day, pray for the moment we can snuggle in the hotel with our little love, hope for that once in a lifetime walk along the Great Wall, plan for an afternoon spent shopping in Guangzhou, and imagine ourselves eating noodles from brothy bowls with chopsticks. But the flight? Oh the flight. There is no glossy anticipation there.


The flight to China is a beast, but the flight home with our new little one, who we are just getting to know, who probably has never flown or been seat belted, and who quite possibly might be sick, congested or constipated? That flight is an exercise in patience, a test of our survival skills. We don’t plan to savor the moment or make memories. The goal is to push through and make it to the other side of the ocean where our loved ones await us at the airport.

Begin with expectations. I love that adoptive momma, Lindsay Esco, suggests that we “manage our expectations”. You don’t need to expect the worst of the worst. Many of us have had long and tiring, yet easy, flights home. Prepare your bags carefully, but don’t let the looming flight home take any joy from your last days in China. Simply manage your expectations. Plan ahead to dispense heavy doses of grace to yourself, your child and husband and/or family.

Since private jets typically aren’t an option, here are some survival tips to help you keep your sanity and a bit of dignity. These are taken from the collective wisdom of the adoption community, from blogs and FB threads, and advice from adoptive parents who have gone before us, blazing the trail at 40,000 above the Pacific. Like I’ve done, take the packing tips and advice, and make it your own.


What to Pack:

• Extra diapers and Pull-Ups, even for potty trained older kids.
• Extra parent outfits
• Electronic devices with chargers
• Water bottle
• Adoption paperwork
• Passports
• Money
• Ziploc toiletry bag: disposable toothbrush, soap, and wipes
• Meds
• Melatonin
• Snacks
• Books
• Your own earphones for watching movies.
• Child carrier for walking aisles and speeding through airports.

Food and Drink:

• It is easy to get dehydrated, so drink only water. Avoid all caffeine. (This also helps with jet lag.) Ask the flight attendant to fill your water bottle.
• Bring your own snacks in case you don’t like the food.
• Squeezable baby food items for toddlers (applesauce, etc.)
• Puffs, Cheerios or Goldfish for small children
• Bring Chinese snacks familiar to your child, such as rice crackers.
• Protein bars or energy bars might be just the boost you need.
• Lollipops and other treats. Although it would be ideal to minimize sugar, this might not be the time to obsess over nutrition.


Rest and Comfort:

• Take melatonin, kids as well.
• Attempt to sleep during the night of the time zone you are headed too.
• Pack a neck pillow. Might look a little silly, but oh the added comfort.
• Cozy socks. Take your shoes off quickly and get comfortable.
• Take lavender oil or other essential oils to help you relax.
• Bring chamomile or “sleepy time” tea bags.
• Compression socks for those who tend to have swelling in the feet and ankles.
• Blanket and stuffed animal for kids.


• Mylicon (simethicone) drops. The gases in your intestines expand when you are in the sky, these drops help relieve pressure. Use before meals and every four hours.
• Use vitamin C packets in your water every 4 hours.
• No Jet Lag is recommended by many experienced travelers.
• Ear drops for kids. The pressure can be quite painful and frightening.
• Pain reliever
• Pepto/Immodium
• Prescriptions


• Water Wow books. Fill the pen with water and your child can “paint”.
• Travel Color Wonder pads
• Small packs of Play doh
• Wikki Stix for older kids
• Coloring books and crayons
• Notepads and markers
• Cards (UNO, etc.)
• Stickers and paper
• Small action figures or dolls


Finally, along with heavy doses of grace, push yourself to find the humor in your situation. You are on a crazy parenting mission involving planes, trains and automobiles, and that deserves a giggle. Our last China flight, with two newly adopted kids, is one of family legend. Our daughter was very, very sick with a scary spiked fever. She also needed medical care (involving medical equipment that was new to her mom and dad), so we held her the entire time, served her mystery meat sticks given to us by her nanny to calm her, walked the aisles, administered Chinese antibiotics with Mandarin direction labels, and earned our nursing badges in the minuscule airplane lavatory.

Then, just in case we were getting too intense, our son had a massive blowout diaper through two diapers and all his extra clothes and onto me. As I stood up to carry our stinky selves back to our well used lavatory, I see the whole plane covering their noses and diverting their eyes. When we arrived in Tokyo, along with wrangling carry-ons, we had to carry him through the airport wrapped in a tiny, orange airplane blanket. He eventually wore his sister’s too small “jeggings” while I scrubbed out his pants in a bathroom sink and dried them under a hand dryer, while a contingency of fascinated Asian travelers stood watch.

So, future travelers, laugh with us, think of our experience, triple diaper your kids and pack extra clothes! The good news? We survived and have a tall tale to tell. And, on our other adoption trip, our new daughter slept every hour of the long flights. My husband and I watched movies, played Sudoku and chatted with other travelers.

Those plane flights home are like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get. So, pack well, pray for travel mercy, “manage your expectations’ and hold on hard to your sense of humor.

Contributor Q and A: Moments!

July 30, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

At some point on your China trip, something silly, something embarrassing, or something crazy will happen. You are away from home, out of your comfort zone, adopting a new to you child, and traveling in a unique culture. You can bank on some family giggles. The No Hands But Ours contributors have accrued their share of these laugh-so-you-don’t-cry type of moments. Have a laugh with us as we recount tales of mysterious white powder, escalator falls, diaper blow-outs, airsickness and fainting on the Great Wall!


Your most embarrassing or amusing travel moments?

Desireé: Passed out cold on the Great Wall of China with a bit of heat stroke. Had to lay with my shirt up and belly against the stones of the walkway until my blood pressure came up enough to stand up. 100,000 of my newest Chinese friends got a good look at the crazy american laying half naked on their wall. Sheesh. BRING WATER TO THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA!

Mandy: My husband and I got a Chinese massage before we adopted our daughter. It was very forceful and not very relaxing. It hurt so much, that while grimacing, I farted. 

Whitney: Too many to count. We laughed our way through that trip and laughter saved our sanity.  We still recount many of those memories. In our Shanghai hotel, they played the same round of songs every morning over the intercom… really old, really obscure songs! We still break out into song occasionally. 


Rebecca: While traveling the million hour flight home with two newly adopted kids, our son had a massive STINKY diaper blowout through two diapers and all his extra clothes. When we arrived in Tokyo for a layover, we had to carry him through the airport wrapped only in an airplane blanket. He eventually wore his sister’s also dirty, too small “jeggings” while I scrubbed his pants in an airport bathroom and then dried them under a hand dryer with a large contingency of Asian women crowding around watching and pointing. All this while his sister had a scary high fever and her parents were learning to play nurse, also in the airport bathroom, administering mystery Chinese meds with Mandarin direction labels and using medical equipment that was still new to us. We left our pride in Tokyo and also certainly earned some in the field, honorary nursing and parenting badges. 

Amy A: I fell down the stairs at the wholesale market with my son in 2013 (embarrassing). We laughed a lot in 2015…it was good for the soul!

Stefanie: Funny: In 2008, my oldest daughter (then 15) and I traveled to bring home our son Jude. He was just 16 months at the time, had uncorrected clubfoot and was cute as a button. But we got a LOT of stares, due to his “abnormal” feet. By the end of our trip we had grown quite weary of the pointing and laughter directed at him, and us. At the Guangzhou airport on the way home, we stopped in the bathroom and while in line, a few ladies waiting in front of us began to comment, laugh and point at Jude’s feet. I turned around to Victoria, behind me in line, and whispered for her to just start laughing with me. And boy, did we ever. Our fake laughs turned into real laughs and then full-on belly laughs. And it completely caught the commenters off guard. Still makes me smile to think about it.

Embarrassing: In 2010, I traveled with my son Asher to bring Vivienne home. He’d never been on an airplane and was beside himself with excitement to go. He had trouble falling asleep on the long flight over, but eventually he did. All seemed to be going well until he woke up and was horribly airsick. He vomited all over everything. Every. Thing. We managed to limp off the plane, in China at last, and I hoped that would be the end of his nausea. While we were waiting in line to officially enter the country, with security cameras seemingly everywhere, I looked over at him and his face was positively green. We, as discreetly as we could, stepped out of line and he threw up in an airport plant. Thankfully we passed the temperature scan and the entrance checkpoint – it was a travel moment I’ll never forget, but kinda wish I could.


Amy S: Getting a shot of Epi in my “hip” was a trip. Having a doctor ask me if I usually have heart arrhythmia was scary. The consulate closed two days before our appointment because of a mysterious white powder in the mail and we had to delay our return trip by 2 days but we managed to negotiate out of extra charges. It was an insane trip – but we returned with a living child and that was the goal.

Jean: Embarrassing – Paying the fees when your suitcase is too heavy and other are waiting for you… 

Funny – When people in China remember you from your last couple adoption trips! It’s like meeting up with old friends! I was in the ladies room in the hotel in GZ and a woman walked up to me and said “Jean?” – I had no idea who she was! It was Ann from Redthreads! She recognized me from the photos we had sent (through her) to our new child! We ended up doing a shopping day with her – she was wonderful!


Waiting Child: Ethan

July 30, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Ethan is a handsome boy, who is 4 years old. He is listed with Hawaii International Child.


He was found abandoned when he was 3 years old, and brought to the orphanage. They found him to be in good health, with the exception of low muscle tension in his legs. The doctor diagnosed him with Cerebral Palsy. It appears to only affect his lower legs. Ethan is able to sit, crawl, and he can stand for a while with support. His speech ability is excellent. Ethan is a very smart boy with an excellent memory and vocabulary. His fine motor skills are also very good.


Ethan receives physical therapy every day. He is a very hard worker in therapy, and will sometimes keep working at an exercise or skill until tears come. But, he will not quit. Ethan is learning addition and subtraction, and is doing very well in both. This brave little boy needs a loving family!


You may see his info and request his file here.

What Should I Pack for China?: My Best Attempt at a Comprehensive Packing List

July 29, 2015 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments


One of the questions I see most often in China Adoption Facebook groups is “What should I pack for China?” Naturally, I had this question the first time I adopted from China. When I approached this task, I did what I always do: I researched. Every time someone posted in a DTC Facebook group a …Read More

Waiting Child: Kim

July 28, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Kim is a precious and beautiful girl who is 6 years old. She is designated special focus to Lifeline through an Orphanage Partnership. Her special need is listed as abnormal bone development. This little girl is absolutely precious! She is a polite and loves to greet others! She can walk unassisted, go up and down …Read More

Going to China: Carry-On Only

July 27, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Being that my husband is in the airline industry, we have been a family that takes full advantage of the flight benefits. Therefore, since we fly stand-by, we hardly ever check bags – because one is never totally quite sure IF we will get on the said flight until the last minute – major bummer if your …Read More


July 27, 2015 by nohandsbutours 7 Comments


China. Whether you’ve been there and back again 10 times or are anxiously awaiting that call telling you it’s time to call your travel agent, you can feel very much a foreigner in a foreign land. As we’ve been those foreigners, there are a few things I’ve learned along the way that may be helpful …Read More

Contributor Q and A: “I Wish I’d…”

July 26, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


With more than 50 adoption trips behind us collectively, our contributor team reflects on their journeys and what they might have done differently. The consensus? Less worrying, less formal touring and more soaking up authentic daily life in China. And, we wish we’d bought a few more coffee mugs!   I wish I’d spent more time… Desireé: Visit your …Read More

Waiting to Be Chosen: Jenny

July 26, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Is this precious little one your daughter? Jenny is simply adorable and has waited far too long for her family. Her orphanage fee has been waived and she has a growing grant on Reece’s Rainbow.  Jenny, born March 2008, is a cutie with a big smile from a well-run orphanage. Her update says she is sociable, easy going, …Read More

Going to China: Hao Chi

July 25, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments


Hao chi (好吃) is how someone in China is going to affirm, “This is yummy!” It’s pronounced “how chur” and all you have to do is add a “ma?” to the end to make it a sentence. Chinese food. Either you love it or you hate it, right? And then maybe you love the food, …Read More

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