I'm planning on this being an ongoing thread for traveling to China. Some of the tips are going to be unique for receiving our children, and some will just be traveling tips.Anyone is welcome, and encouraged to join in.ALSO please see "things to buy" thread for more info: [url]http://forums.adoption.com/china-adoption/315143-things-buy-china.html[/url]
I'm carefully reading the great advice from everyone, keep it coming. I fly out Nov. 1st. Could somebody list the Chinese denomination of money from smallest to highest. Also, did most of you carry all the cash (including the 3k donation +)in money belts or used the hotel safe. If you used the safe did you use the one at the front desk? Richard P., I believe You traveled by yourself to pick up your 2nd child? If so, I'll be doing the same and my daughter is almost 3.5 years old. Any specific advice about this age would be appreciated from you or anybody. Thanks
We had our money and passports in money belts but never actually wore them. While traveling, we put them in our backpacks. Once we got to the hotel, we put them in the safe in our room. We took out enough money for the day each morning and exchanged it at the hotel. We just carried that money around in our pockets - my husband wore cargo pants or shorts and my shorts had pockets that had button closures to safeguard against pickpocketing.
Also, did most of you carry all the cash (including the 3k donation +)in money belts or used the hotel safe. If you used the safe did you use the one at the front desk?
We carried our fanny packs on our bodies during the flights, with everything inside. Then carried one of them with chinese money in it while walking around in China, while the other was in the safe in the hotel room. We also each had a pocket calculator, and taped this exchange page to the backs of each of them, to familiarize ourselves with the exchang rates. This page changes daily, but we copied it a week before we left and taped it onto the calculators.[url=http://www.oanda.com/convert/cheatsheet?exch=USD&expr=CNY&result=1]FXCheatSheet - Currency Converter for Travelers[/url]
We mostly used our money belts, and we did use the safes in the hotel rooms some. One thing--you get rid of a big chunk of money very early in your trip. All of the orphanage fees, notary fees, etc., come out pretty early, so you are not carrying around quite as much money after that.
We came home in January with a 3 year old. She is our second and our first was 13 months when we got her. These are simply my observations and experiences and I want to stress that all children are different, as are all parents and situations (one family in our group adopted a 3 year old SN boy - their issues were very different). Our daughter was found at a few days old and had always lived in an orphanage. * Adopting a 13 month old did NOT prepare us for a 3 year old, everything was sooo different. * At three she was potty trained, however she only knew how to squat. It took a few days to get used to sitting on a toilet. * She cried A LOT. She cried during the day and would wake up at night. Experts say this is good because she is missing someone and so has been able to bond. I will say that we felt helpless and became emotionally drained. * She was not crazy about being held or with physical affection. Our guide told us that kissing and cuddling was not something most children experienced. This fact made consoling her very difficult. * She wined A LOT. We figured that she knew what she wanted, but because of the language she was even more frustrated with our not understanding. I also assume it was a way get get what she wanted (but then again, I see many kids do the same). * She was absolutely petrified of our child friendly totally non threatening 40 lb little Corgi. * It took her much longer top adapt to U.S. time. * She was into everything and did not like the word no(again, this could be a typical 3 year thing). Now the good: * Things improved 101% every day. * The flight home and the car seat were not problems. * She had no interest in TV or any videos. She does love music. * Watching her take in all the new things around her was incredible. You could almost see her little brain fire away all day long. * The transition to daycare was not difficult (we were home for only 3 weeks before she started full time daycare). * She bonded to all of us. After week two my wife had to go on a business trip for a week and our daughter was fine. * Today she is a bright little girl, very curious and so smart it is rather scary. They call her "little sunshine" at daycare and she needs to meet and pet every dog she sees. Read all you can, get as much information from other parents as possibble and be very very very patient. By the way I did go with my wife. If this is your first adoption I would think that it would be very difficult to undertake the trip by yourself. Best of luck to you.
Richard P gave his story of adopting a 3 year old - now I will give mine which in ways parallels his, but other ways is completely different. Our daughter was also a few days old and was at the orphanage for most of the time. She went into foster care about 8 months before we got her. Her orphanages ideal of foster care is different than most. She went home with a caretaker at night and was at the orphanage during the day. This made for an easy transition to daycare. - which she started 6 weeks after coming home. * She refused to come to us at first until the nanny pulled out the photo album we sent and showed her that we were the "Mama & Baba" in the picture.* She did not cry until the nanny left the room and it took at least 20 minutes to calm her. Then she was fine.* She did not talk to us for 3 days, but was smiling and laughing. Once she started talking, she hasn't stopped. This comes from her being extremely shy and will not talk to strangers. A year later, she will only talk to a few select people that she knows very well.* Our daughter was potty-trained but regressed. It took 8 months after coming home before she was completely potty-trained again.* Ashlei only cried when we were stuck in the hotel room. She loved being out and about. * She slept through the night from the first night with her. But she will not take naps.* Ashlei constantly wanted to be carried and only by me. She refused daddy - but would play with him. She was very affectionate from the start. She was easily consoled.* Language barrier was hard for all of us. She picked up on understanding English by the time we left China. But it took a few weeks before she could express herself to us in English.* She was afraid of our 3 - 100lb German Shepherds for about 2 minutes. It took her 2 days to stop being afraid of the 10 lb cat.* She adapted to US time within 3 days* She also does not like the word "no" and still will cry if you tell her no.* She refused to be seatbelted on the plane. She through a major fit when the flight attendant made me wake her up to put the seatbelt on her (In-China flight). On the flight home, she slept for 9 of the 13 hrs.* She loves TV and videos. It said in her paperwork that she loved to watch TV. * It took her a while to bond to daddy. We had to force them to spend at least an hour alone together every night so that she would bond with him also. She bonded to me very quickly.* We took her to the doctor a week after coming home. She did perfectly fine there. She actually smiled and laughed while they took 6 vials of blood (and mommy almost passed out watching). * The only developmental delays she had was in language but only because she was learning a new one. She caught up with that very quickly. We have now have had Ashlei for almost 14 months. She is a happy, wonderful little girl. Like Richard said, every older toddler adoption is different. Just go in expecting the worst and hoping for the best. And patience is a must. It is such a wonderful age and I'm glad to see people adopting children this age.
[FONT=Verdana]Thanks Richard and Sheri for your advice. Unfortunatly I don't have a choice but to do it alone. I read the Weaver's Craft which opened my eyes to potential problems. It turns out Skyla has been exclusively in foster care for the past 11 months. As Karen in CA mentioned before, this could be a double edged sword as Skyla will most likely grieve a lot as I found out she is very attached to her foster mom.[/FONT][FONT=Verdana]A few things in our favor though, the foster family has two daughters and I have a picture of them with Skyla sitting on the foster dad's lap. So I'm hoping at least she won't be so scared of a me. When we do bring Skyla home we're also hoping our 7 year old with help a great deal with the transition. [/FONT][FONT=Verdana]Yes Ricahard this is my first adoption, but not the first child so I may have a bit of an edge-but not much! Like you said Sheri I am expecting the worst and hoping for the best. I hope she's not too terrified of me![/FONT]-Frank Karen- sorry to get off topic of this thread- Travel question: has anybody rented a Panda Phone?
The following website might be useful as well: See [url=http://www.myasiachannel.com/EN_news_chinese_fake_money_how_to_detect_and_seperate_from_real_money.html]MyAsiaChannel News Which banknote is not real? (fake money). Learn how to detect Chinese fake money and make sure you get real money![/url] for an example of counterfeit chinese money and to learn how to detect it
When buying things in China, always pay with the lowest possible denomination bill. This will help avoid getting counterfeit money as change. When we were at the Great Wall, we wanted to buy 2 bottles of water and my husband gave the guy a five (in yen). The guy tried to say it was counterfeit and refused it because he seen that my husband also had fifty's & hundreds. So my husband gave him another five and we walked away. We showed our guide the five he refused and she said it was not counterfeit but he was trying to get us to pay with a fifty or hundred so that he could give us counterfeit money as change.
Richard, those are some great tips. It made me think of a few others as well... Our daughter was fine with holding her, but as you said, sometimes they don't like it. It's important though to do it. If your child has difficulty with holding her and looking in her eyes while you feed her, hold her outward while giving her a bottle, and try it with a mirror in front of you so that when she looks out, she is almost forced to see you holding her, and finds comfort in it. Also, take the child's que at first...ALWAYS. We were told by our agency to try to keep their undershirt in the crib with them when they sleep for the first night. The scent is familiar. We were also very careful about her first bath. She accepted it, although we don't think she had ever been given a real bath, at 17 months old. The water was very shallow and we moved her into the bathtub very, very slowly the first time we bathed her. We enticed her into the tub with a very small inflatable ball. She held on to that ball the entire time, as well as after the first bath. All that said, if she were to have cried or felt uncomfortable with the bath, we would not have given it to her. Making sure she was cleaned and changed was a top priority but our first priority was making her feel comfortable and at ease. That was the most important part of the bonding process.
Thanks to everyone for all of the wonderful tips! I have been writing furiously since I opened this thread. We will go to China in May 2008 to get our twin girls!! (Jing-Jing and Juan-Juan, soon to be Megan and Emily) We are very excited - we can hardly stand it! One question - Our daughters will be 11-months old when we go to get them. Their growth report had them at 15 lbs and 13 lbs but I don't know when the growth report was issued. What size clothing should we bring with us? 9-month or 12-month old sizes? Thanks again so much!
Congradulations, how very exciting! You really cannot go by age since most Chinese babies are smaller. You need to buy cloths where the weight range is specified (many do this). Our first was tiny and our second large (even for an American baby) so the weight thing is key.
Bring a couple of different sizes of clothing. I've seen a lot of babies smaller than what their paperwork said. Join the yahoo group that your child is from. You'll get great tips on the accuracy of the reports etc. Bring a pill cutter and a pill cruncher. My dd was put on antibiotics but they were huge pills. I had to squish them with a spoon. It was terrible. Do bring at least one bottle (regular cheap kind from the dollar store or walmart) and a few diapers. You may not get to shop before you get your child. Also, careful of the unusually shaped bottles (Avent and such) some babies will refuse them. One baby in our group refused to drink for a whole day until she got a "normal" bottle. Ours took the Avent with no issues. The Airborne was a total waste of $ for us. We had a hard time remembering to take it and we ALL got sick. My DH, myself, my oldest dd, my new dd and my parents. Lotion and baby oil. Non-allergenic stuff. Lots of rashes and dry skin in these babies. First aid kit and all the non-prescription medication you think you or the baby may need. Thin blanket (Gymboree has great ones that stay nice after many washes). Light weight jacket for baby if going South. snack trap or silar (cup with "lips" to prevent snacks from falling out) Small toys, small chunky books
How about some travel tips for parents adopting an older child? Our daughter just turned 6...got any tips/advice?