Things to Pack, Things to Leave, and Things to Bring Home from your Adoption Trip

Today’s post is for all adoptive and soon-to-be-adoptive Mommas out there, but it is dedicated especially to my beloved Xu Mamas. A group of Moms whose babies, including mine, all share the same home for the time being: the Xuchang orphanage in China. As we prepare to go, here’s a few things to lead our way.

Hello Friend.

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged because Summer came in like a lamb, but went out like a lion.

In the middle of June, June 18th to be exact, in the midst of two sets of house guests, and our travel group reunion commencing in Orlando, we were surprised one morning about 10:00am with, “The Call.”

Now if you don’t know what “The Call” is, it is the moment every adoptive parent (AP) waits for from the moment they decide to adopt. No matter how long you wait, and we’ve waited about two years for Katie Joy, it catches you off guard. I was stepping out of the shower and Hope brought me my cell phone. At first I was a bit annoyed, because, geeze…can a woman just get a shower…alone?!?

Then I realized it was our adoption agency calling. Still no flags went up for me, I just figured they were calling to check in on whether or not we had started our re-file process for immigration.

Instead I heard, “Hi Amy…I am looking at a file on my desk for a sweet little girl…is this a good time?”
Me, “Oh my gosh! You’re kidding! Yes! Yes! It’s a great time, don’t hang up!”

She proceeded to fill me in on all of Ting Ting’s (Katie Joy’s) information, her special need, where she is located, her age, her birthdate, and so forth.

And that’s the last thing I remember.

Grin. But seriously, I have been in overdrive ever since that day. The amount of paperwork I have put out in the past 2 months, is nothing short of a bureaucratic triumph. And it’s all God’s grace. I lost it a few times along the way of ‘course, but hey…we made it.

Now we are waiting for immigration to approve us and we are hopefully off to China in early October to bring home Katie Joy.

So, I’ve been in nesting-prepping-packing mode for months now and I wanted to share a few things I think every AP, especially the adoptive Mommas need to know about how to prepare for the trip of a lifetime.

I’ve been to China twice already, so I have a tried and true packing list for everything you could even think you’d need for a trip like this. I call it THE Packing List .

But there are items you must pack that are even more important than these. They’re intangible, but crucial to navigating the adoption road, and all the adventure, insanity, and challenges it can bring.

~You must pack your:

Faith: Believe that God, Who doesn’t miss a thing, Who is a micro-manager of the greatest kind, is absolutely in control. Put all those hidden fears into His very big hands, and choose to live in the moment each step of the way. Don’t try to predict what may/may not happen, just live it and trust Him.

Patience: There will be moments when you are about to burst; emotionally and logistically. Whether you are waiting in the foreign affairs building moments before your child is in your arms or waiting to see if your bulging luggage will make the weight limit on the plane, whatever the circumstance, practice the Presence of God through patience.

Hope: You need this one too. It not only got you here, but it will comfort you here too. When the days in China turn into weeks, and your sweet one is adjusting and grieving, eating too much or maybe not eating enough, when you wonder if this child will ever love you as much as you love them, have hope. This is God’s doing, and He plans to prosper you and not harm you, giving all of you Hope in your final outcome.

Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.”

Love: You may not think you need this one, but you will. Pack your love during those harried times with your spouse when it’s all crazy and you really need him to help more, or with your little one when maybe things aren’t going as well as you’d hoped. Just love them all with the Father’s love, because trust me, yours will not be enough. Don’t forget to love yourself too. That means don’t be too hard on yourself over there. You’re dust, they are too.

Trust: Trust God and trust your instincts. Know that God has allowed YOU out of every woman in the world, even your child’s birth mother, to be their forever Mommy. He’s totally confident in His abilities through you to be the Mom this little one needs you to be: in your strengths and in your weaknesses.

Big Girl Panties: You will need to unpack these and put them on for this trip and quite frankly, the rest of your life as a Mom, but especially as an adoptive Mom. It’s hard not to take things personally or wish things were different or easier. But the Big Girl Panties are made from the fabric of perseverance and endurance, and they will outlast even the toughest of days.

Respect: You will use this item out of choice. It may not come easy, because after all the special needs children of China are called, “the broken ones”, by their own people. It’s hard not to resent people who feel that way about your baby, but remember they do not know Jesus or His love or His compassion and heart for the outcast. Embracing your adoptive child’s culture is crucial for their future identity and they will follow your lead. Which leads me to the last item you must pack.

Your Father’s eyes: Choose to see everything and every person through His eyes. Respect and your Father’s eyes go together like shoes and socks and you couldn’t do this trip without either of those either. Ask Him to color your experience on every single level with His perspective and His compassion.

After you’ve packed all these essentials, and you go over your packing list a few more hundred times, take a minute to focus not on what you need to bring, but what you need to leave behind. These items won’t enhance your trip one single bit. They will make it much harder, much more difficult to bear and they will suck the joy out of your journey.

~You must leave your:

Preconceived ideas
Perfectionistic Expectations
Need for Control

God’s got this. He mastered the plan. He is the author and perfecter. Let Him be.

Lastly, there are a few things you will bring home with you as you leave the land of your child’s birth. Some you will enjoy, others you will have to work with Jesus to create and still others you will have to depend upon Him for in ways you can’t yet imagine.

~You will bring home:

One of the greatest gifts you will ever receive, your child.

A newfound appreciation for the hope your son or daughter will now have access to.

Your dirty laundry and theirs. It will take years to go through it all, but Jesus is more than willing to do it for you.

~Strive to bring home:

A readiness to work real hard on sacrificing yourself, your time, and your personal space for a period of time, so that your child can attach and bond to you in a deeply unique way.

“No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends.” -John 15:13

And it takes a strong love, stronger than you can realize, to lay down and give up your life for your adopted children. You may have bio kids, but trust me, after a year with your adopted child, you will wonder if you ever really sacrificed for those sweet babies from your tummy, because when you compare what they needed from you to what your adopted child will need from you, it will be a night and day parenting experience.

Your bio child was steeped in trust, constant care, with every need met immediately. Your adopted child was steeped in lack: deep, wanting, lack. A lack that none of us can even comprehend, and that lack will require all of you, every single bit. It will seem suffocating, unfair, and forever. But you will survive. Maybe by the hair of your chinny-chin-chin, but you will make it and so will they and you will finally have an inkling of what God gave up (and still does) when He adopted you.

God bless you as you answer His call on your family’s life. Your pure religion is about to change the life of your child and yours forever. May His favor go before you, hover over you, and follow you all the way home.

Numbers 6:24-26, ” The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”


  1. Love this!!! Thanks for sharing ! I am so excited for your journey to get your daughter! Praying for you! Very inspiring, you helped me so much before and after we got our “Jade ” from China. I hope we go back again someday for another sister. Your truly an inspiration!!

  2. Thanks for sharing this I will for sure be printing it so I don’t forget anything before we go, and so we remember it while we’re there.

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