Monday, April 11, 2011

Overdue for an update

Let's see, Claire has been home now for almost 15 months. What is it like around our house?

First, let's start with all the good stuff.
Claire has amazed us all academically.  She is completely caught up in all areas and has been reading at grade level for a couple of months now.  She still gets small group reading intervention but her reading teacher has told us that if other students are recognized as needing the intervention, Claire might be dropped because she is now at the top of the small group.    Wow, in just 7 short months she went from not reading at all to reading most words on her own.  Her grasp of phonics is incredible, much better than our other children at her age.  I worked with her on phonics a lot the first 6 weeks while we homeschooled.  And, the Leap Frog DVDs are fantastic.  I would recommend those to everyone!

She struggled a bit with math at first and I think that was mainly because she hadn't had any schooling in her first 7 years of life.  Children are absorbing numbers at a very young age here in the US.  Claire had to learn the numbers in English and then learn all the processing of addition, time, money, subtraction, pie charts (fractions) in such a short time.  I had to help her understand concepts a lot at home the first semester of first grade but now I can let her finish a worksheet on her own and then check it over with her and explain only those things that she missed.  Time and money have been exceptionally hard, but I think many children struggle with those concepts.  I try to incorporate time and money into our daily lives to help reinforce what she's learned.  Small things like "You usually go to bed at 8:00 but tonight I want you to go to bed one hour earlier, so what time would that be?"  Telling the time isn't hard for her but the earlier and later part really mess her up.  She had to learn what earlier and later meant just to understand the problem.  As her vocabulary grows she should grasp these concepts easier.

Claire has always been a popular student at school, a mini rock star if you will, but she has really come out of her shell in the last few months.  She makes friends very easily and even performed with Emily in the school talent show.  I was so proud of her courage to be on stage in front of an entire gym full of people.

She is completely fluent in English and can sound out and read a lot of things around her.  Once in awhile I will still get the blank stare which means she is trying to figure out what a word means so when I see that look, I stop and ask her if she knows what it means.

Now the not so good.  I don't want to say these are bad things because they're not really bad, but just issues I see with Claire that I think are mostly rooted in being adopted at an older age.

This is hard for me because I am not a hoarder.  I realize the issue is with me and my sliver of type-A personality of wanting everything organized so I really try to stop and understand that this is a direct effect of her time before us.  She wants to keep everything; every coloring page, every valentine, every kids meal toy, every sticker, every half-eaten lollipop, you name it.  We find cubbies in the van full of miscellaneous items that are many times trash.  I find many things stashed in small purse type bags in the closet, or drawers, or under the bed.  How do I tell her that you don't need to keep every kids meal toy when she's never had them before?  I am certain this issue would be even bigger if she had been in the orphanage for those 7 years instead of with a foster family.  She had toys, candy and other things with her foster family so I know our small issue with hoarding is nothing compared to what some adoptive families face.  Claire does not hoard food; a sign that tells me she didn't regularly go without food while in China.

Split personality-
Claire is one way with adults and another way with children.  Now, I know most children do this and our other children do as well but it is a bigger swing with Claire.  She does not want to upset authority figures, a carryover of culture from China, so she is usually a model child around us, teachers, grandparents, etc.  But, when around her siblings she has hit, bit, pinched, called names, etc.  I have walked in on one of these episodes and she immediately froze and started crying.  Sometimes I don't intervene and sometimes I do.  I think she is still learning how to deal with 3 older siblings and some of those behaviors is her sticking up for herself, so I let it go.  Other times it is not warranted and the behaviors are simply a result of her being stubborn (oh my, she's stubborn!) so I step in and tell her that her sister/brother aren't being mean, they are actually trying to help her.
In the same regard, she has thrown a few temper tantrums.  Think two year old, screaming, flailing, temper tantrum because she didn't get what she wanted.  Again, these don't happen if we are around, only when she is with her siblings.  I knew of a couple of these tantrums but didn't address it but I walked into the room once when she was doing it.  She immediately stopped and I had a discussion with her.  I told her that temper tantrums are not allowed; they've never been allowed by any children of ours.  We won't address them, we simply ignore it and you will never get what you want by throwing a tantrum.  I had never approached the idea of time out with her before this day but I explained what time out is and told her she would go to time out if she threw another tantrum.  Now she doesn't do the standard two year old tantrum but she will usually look for something of importance to Emily or something Emily has made and destroy it.  She sat in time out for that; her first time out ever.  She sat there very quietly for about 5 minutes and then broke down crying.  We talked about destroying other people's things, controlling anger and I let her know that I didn't love her any less.  She emerged from that time out and chat as a completely new child; she was happy, agreeable and sincerely apologized to Emily.

Claire has a fear of anything unknown.  'We're going to the bowling alley' invokes a look of "what is that, what does that mean, is it scary? etc."  An amusement park is a terrifying experience for her because she is constantly wondering what is going to happen and genuinely afraid of what each ride will do.  And, I'm not talking roller coasters, I'm talking Dumbo, spinning tea cups, etc.
We recently took the kids to Disney World and she cried on several rides that were nothing more than a boat ride.  Before each ride we would hear, "is it scary? is it dark? does it go upside down? is it fast? is there a hill?"  But, once she lived through it and realized it wasn't scary she emerges with "wow, that was fun!".  I think this is partly due to her personality but also because she was picked up from her foster family and driven away with an unknown destination.   She didn't know where she was going, what was going to happen, who we were, etc.  What a terrifying experience for a 7 year old child.  So, even though we are sitting right with her on any ride, the unknown produces fear in her.  I told her many times at Disney World that nothing would hurt her there and that we love her and would never put her in a situation that we knew would hurt her.
Of course, the one ride we were able to get her one stopped at the top of the hill and sat there for a few minutes.  "Is this the ride?", she said.  J replied with "Oh yea, this is the ride!" while we exchanged glances of "they better get this thing going again because walking down this hill with her won't be any fun."  Thankfully it did start back up and we plunged down the waterfall in our log plume with Claire's head buried firmly in my side.  Once off the ride she said with teary eyes, "well, that wasn't bad!"  *sigh*  At least it made for a great Disney World story.

The "no mom" thought process-
I don't really know what this is technically called but Claire has asked me several times, "does he/she have a mom?"  We sponsor a boy in Kenya and his picture is on the bulletin board by my computer.  We were talking about him this weekend and Claire asked me if he had a mom.  I explained to her that he lives with his grandmother and the area where he lives has many people with HIV so I would guess his mom and dad were victims of HIV and that is why he lives with his grandmother.  She casually said "oh" and I could tell she was thinking really hard.  She lived with a foster grandmother so I'm sure she was equating his grandmother with the same thing.  I really expected a question of him being adopted but she never said it.
Later we were watching an episode of Minute to Win It and there was an Asian father/daughter team competeing.  After watching it for awhile she asked us "does that girl have a mom?"  I saw her mom in the audience so I told Claire that yes, she had a mom and then pointed out the lady in the audience.  She responded with "oh".  So, while we don't often wonder if someone has a mom or not,  it is definitely on Claire's mind more than we realize.

There are way more positives than negatives in our life with an adopted child.  I can't imagine her not being here and I feel bad sometimes pointing out the negative things.  It's not that they're bad things but just different and obvious impacts of her life before us and her adoption transition.  Some times I scratch my head and wonder "where did this come from?" when she says something and then I remember some blog I've read from another parent who adopted an older child and it helps to know this is "normal" and I'm not messing it up...yet.  So, I hope this helps even just one person who might be experiencing the same things.

I am still posting pictures to my 365 Project blog; the button is on the sidebar.  Sometimes I get one on there each day and sometimes I slack off and don't upload for a week or more.  But, there are pictures of Claire on there occasionally so you can follow that blog and see her grow and progress through the year.

Friday, January 28, 2011


A video to take you through our first year with Claire.

It is unbelievable to me that today marks one full year that we have had Claire as our daughter.  The past year has gone by so incredibly fast compared to the nine months we waited for her.  I initially made this video for Claire; to capture her first year with us, from her first minutes through all of her firsts.  After working on this video for several hours it became therapeutic for me, which I didn't expect and didn't even realize I needed. It brought me back to that initial time one year ago when we were so head over heels in love with a little girl from another country.  Every thing she did was new, or funny, or brilliant.  Somehow that tends to get lost among the teaching to read, sight-word flash cards, math fact practice, numerous "pick up your room," breaking up sister fights, reminding about rude tone when talking, etc. etc. etc.  

Looking back has reminded me that we have been given an incredible gift; a gift straight from the hands of God and we can't mess it up; much in the same way I feel looking back at newborn photos of my first three children.  That feeling of amazement and awe are still there and I will try harder to find them when I'm drained and tired and walk into a bedroom covered with girls' clothes; when I'm knee-deep in sister bickering I will try to approach it with more patience and understanding (although, there are always THOSE days when the patience are gone) and I will try harder on a daily basis to show Claire that she is a gift to us and most certainly not the other way around.

Claire, you are an incredible gift to our family. It is my hope that you will always feel safe, cherished and loved by us, your parents and your siblings.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Claire is 8!

My baby girl is 8 years old today.   It's official, I sound completely crazy when asked what ages my kids are- 12, 10, 8 and 8.  Let me tell you, that raises an eyebrow; especially if I tell them my last two are 8 months apart and my kids aren't with me.  I tell them sometimes just to see their face.

It has been a joy watching Claire enjoy and soak up the special attention her birthday has brought.  She has shared with us that she would have a small cake on her birthday in China but never a birthday present.  She was very loved by her foster family and having a small cake is more than most children waiting for adoption receive but she has definitely been waiting for those presents.
She patiently waited through all the birthdays in the family and commented frequently about "my first birthday in America!"  I was a little worried she was expecting a pony or something with the amount of her excitement, but no, she was just looking very forward to her special day.  I found this t-shirt months ago and tucked it away for today.  Now the whole world will know it's her birthday and I'm sure she will be quick to tell them it's her FIRST birthday in America.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Older Child Chronicles: Part 4

Siblings and More

I feel very unqualified to write this post.  For, I don't know the answers, haven't figured out the answers and feel far less than qualified to pass on answers to anyone else.  This post has been swirling around in my head for a couple months now.  To me, it feels like normal life so I'm having a hard time trying to separate what is just sibling behavior and what is related to adoption and adding an older child to the family.  And, I think when you're in the thick of it you don't have a subjective viewpoint as someone on the outside looking in would.  But, I guess this could just be a "this is how it's been for us" type of post and take from it what you may.

Keep in mind though, every adopted child, every child already at home and every family is different so you may experience none, some or all of this in your older child adoption because we all have different personalities that make relationships all different.

First let's tackle taking siblings to China.  
There are so many personal opinions on this topic and some agencies even weigh in heavily with their opinion so the question of "should we take our other children to China" becomes a very hot button topic.  I don't think there is right or wrong answer; let me explain.

We really wanted to take our three other children to China with us.  We knew it wasn't going to be a vacation in the traditional sense but we also knew we couldn't load up the van and take a road trip to China next summer either.  The main (and probably only) reason we didn't take our other children with us was because of cost.  Three more plane tickets at $1500 each and adding a hotel room at each location made our travel costs almost triple.  It simply wasn't feasible at the time.  They also would have missed three weeks of school and that would have been hard to make up but I'm certain we could have made it work if the finances would have been favorable.
We thought by having our other children with us it would help Claire see and understand a parent/child relationship simply by observing.  We also thought they would help make her comfortable through play and normal child to child bonding.  And while it wasn't a vacation, it would have given our other children the opportunity to see the culture that Claire grew up in and maybe help them understand a bit more why she may do some of the things she does.

Once we decided it was too much of a financial strain to bring them with us we began looking for the positives of leaving them at home.  Their schooling wouldn't be stressed by missing so much, it would give us time with Claire to really bond without the distraction of other sibling interactions or behavior, it would make the official adoption visits easier because we wouldn't have to keep 4 kids entertained with only 2 of us, we wouldn't have to pay extra fees because our agency strongly discourages siblings on the trip (and shows their discouragement with additional fees,) we wouldn't have to juggle luggage and transportation for 5 (and then 6) people.  The kids are old enough to carry some of their own stuff but a suitcase outfitted for 3 weeks is a bit beyond their capacity so we knew that would fall back to us.

Now, our experience traveling without our other children.
The travel part was obviously easier with just the two of us (and then 3 on the way back) than making sure the kids were comfortable and entertained on the 14 hour airplane ride.  We were able to bond solely with Claire without the distractions that other children bring.  We didn't have an issue, beyond those first couple of hours, with Claire being shut down so the benefit of our other children to play with her wasn't necessary; not that it wouldn't have still been nice.  Growing up in a foster family for most of her life, Claire understood the parent/child relationship fairly well.  She grew up more with a grandma relationship but still, she had that authority and caring adult figure before she came to us.  The official adoption visits weren't hard but I'm sure it would have been harder having 4 children with us.  For some of those visits (notary, medical exam, consulate appointment) you just sit for an hour or more, so entertaining 1 instead of 4 was definitely easier.

Now for the flip side.  Being with Claire, and Claire only, for nearly 3 weeks brought a few negative things as well.  For the first part of her time with us, it was only her and us; she didn't have to share us with anyone.  She had 100% attention and while that is probably the way it should be, it did bring home a bit of attitude when she had to share us with the other children.  It's a double edged sword, no right or wrong answer here.  She needed the time with us to bond but then that proved to cause some difficulty when we got home and she no longer had that undivided time with us.  I could see it in this picture I posted, taken when we arrived home at the airport.  Others may not see it but I can tell Claire's face is really thinking "wait, I didn't have to share these arms for 3 weeks, who are you?"
If we had just one, or maybe even two, other children we would have most likely taken them with us.  I think the positives of having them on the trip outweigh the negatives.  This would be based solely on your other children's personality too, though; some children travel really well and some would rather be at home.  But, after going on the trip and everything we experienced I would take them, in a heartbeat, if the finances allowed it.

The first few months at home I did see Claire trying to put herself between us and the other kids; sort of like a hierarchy in her mind and she needed to be at the top.  I noticed this the most with Daddy and pointed it out to him because it's really hard to see for yourself when you're in the middle of it.  But, if I subjectively stood back and watched I could see her turn on some charm when he was around and get different treatment from the others.  It would be very helpful if you spoke with people who will be around you after getting home and ask them to look for behaviors that you might not realize are happening.  Speak with your other children that treatment of the new child is bound be different than them, simply because they started out in your family a different way and that requires different treatment at times.

Claire would often point out when one of the others would get in trouble that "I never get trouble."  At first I ignored it and then warned her that those comments would indeed get her into trouble if they continued.  Even now, 8 months later, she will once in awhile make reference to the fact that the other kids get in trouble more than she does.  Her idea of getting in trouble is a bit skewed as well.  If I get onto Matthew more than once about Legos being all over the floor and threaten to take them away if they aren't cleaned up, Claire will sometimes say "I always pick up my Legos, I never get in trouble."  I have started to point out that she's not much different than the other kids; they all leave toys out, including her.  I now make it a point to include her in my griping about clothes being left strewn around rooms or toys left in places they shouldn't be.  I didn't at first because she didn't know the rules but she took that as special treatment that made her better than the others.  I've encouraged our other children to speak up when they feel something isn't fair and many times I've agreed with them and tried to consciously make an adjustment in how I treat Claire.  Not that I treat her worse because they say it isn't fair but if I complain about Emily having 4 pairs of shoes on her floor I will now look around and see that Claire also has several pairs on the floor and I'll make them both put them away, whereas I didn't do that the first several months she was home.

The relationship between the kids is fluid, ever changing.  The first month or so was a honeymoon period.  Matthew invited Claire to play with him, Emily made it a point to play with dolls with her (which she never touched before), Jacob would do silly things to make her laugh, etc.  The next couple of months brought some real adjustments instead of just accepting everything Claire did as OK.  Emily wanted to read at night but Claire needed to go to sleep, Matthew decided that he didn't want Claire in his room all the time playing with his things but Claire didn't understand that because she could play with them before, Jacob turned back towards being a 12 year old boy with a 7 year old sister; he didn't want her hanging around him asking questions all the time but she didn't know why that wasn't OK anymore because it was before.  I would get onto the older kids for not including her as much but at the same time try to explain to her that I will let each of them have their own space and time and they don't have to play with her or entertain her all the time.  I encouraged her to play with something that she wanted to but it became more obvious that she wasn't used to that.  She was the older sister to a handicapped brother in China; he played whatever and whenever she wanted to.  She was the boss and never really played alone.  She spent some time unhappy because nobody would play with her; she still does occasionally but she's learning how to entertain herself a lot better now.  When I'm in the kitchen preparing dinner she will color or play with her dolls or go outside.  This is a huge step in independence that she didn't show before.

Around this time she became obsessed with one of Emily friends who lives in the neighborhood.  "Kate" would come over to play with Emily but end up entertaining Claire the whole time; imagine that struggle for Emily.  Claire was getting nearly 100% attention from Kate, so she "loved" her.  That has backed off quite a bit as the newness has worn off and the 10 year old girls want to hang out together occasionally without a younger sister.  They still involve Claire a lot when they play but I've noticed Claire's obsession with Kate has faded as Kate wants to be with Emily more.

I noticed the next phase between the kids as more sibling rivalry.  I've always had an attitude of kids can work out their issues without parent involvement (to an extent) but I've noticed that I settle many more sibling fights now than I used to.  This is hard.  Sometimes I get upset with the older kids for nit-picking stupid things that Claire is doing, or saying.  I remind them that even though she's conversationally fluent in English, there are still a lot of nuances in speech that she does not understand.  Instead of helping her make sense of something she's not saying right they tend to tell her it doesn't make sense in a nit-picky way.  I usually step in and remind them and then help Claire reword what she's wanting to say so she can also learn from it.  Then other times Claire gets upset because one of the other kids tells her what to do.  All of a sudden that stubborn streak shows up and she will get feisty with them.  Sometimes I get onto her about that because it wasn't that the other kids were trying to boss her around, it was more that they knew I would say something if she left her toothbrush out, or clothes in the bathroom after her shower, etc.  So it may start out as Emily saying "Claire, you left your toothbrush on the counter" and Claire responds back with "don't tell me what to do" and then progresses to "Claire, I'm not telling you what to do, I'm just telling you that you left it out" and then I'll hear "Emily, why you so mean to me?" and a response of "I'm not being mean, Claire!" and of course the voices shriek a little higher each time and then Claire gets downright mad.

I don't want to come across to the older kids that I always choose Claire's side but also don't want it to be that I always defend Claire and the older kids can't do anything right.  It's a balancing act, a tight rope at times.  I fall off the rope a lot, sometimes upsetting Claire, sometimes upsetting one of the others.  It's a good thing that kids are very forgiving.

So, if we take this sibling situation back to the idea that bringing home an older child is really like bringing home a newborn, this is how you could interpret the stages.

Bring home the baby: Older siblings are in love, they are being such "big helpers" and everything in your world is rose colored.

Baby starts to crawl: Older siblings are finding toys for the baby, who can now hold onto things and get around, a little bit.  This is fun, the baby can play!

Baby turns into a toddler: Mom!  Baby is messing with my toys. MOM!  Get the baby.   Mom doesn't come quick enough, of course, so then the baby starts crying.  "what did you do?  Why is he crying?"  Older sibling has a look of "uh oh, maybe I shouldn't have whacked him with that toy." look on his face.

Older sibling and Toddler, now preschool age learn to get along and play a bit better and you sigh a sigh of relief that the 2 year old stage is over.

Older sibling goes to school and gets his own friends.  "Mom, make him get out, he's bothering us!"   And so it begins again.

It's fluid and it changes.  
It's not easy, it's not hard (at least all the time).  
It's cool to watch your family swell with love for another, it's covering your head up with the pillow at the end of the night and hoping that morning is a long time away.  
It just is.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Older Child Chronicles: Part 3

What can happen at and after Gotcha

I had read many, many stories of other adoptions before traveling.  Just when I thought I'd read enough, I'd read more.
I knew the children being adopted would most likely be shut down when you first meet them.
I knew that nearly all children cry, some even hitting, kicking and screaming.
I knew all of that.  I even understood it; the child really has very limited understanding of what is happening and they are frightened and may even be (in their eyes) fighting for their life.

I expected it.

And then it happened.
When we first met Claire she was smiley, said 'hi" to me after I said "ni hao" to her and let me hug her.  She gleefully went through the backpack we brought and quickly finished a package of teddy grahams I'd stashed in there.  When her last teddy graham was gone we watched as she quickly realized what was happening.  We were forced to sign paperwork while she watched and then she broke out in full hysterics.  She cried, and cried, and cried while saying in Mandarin "I want my grandmother, I want China, I don't want to leave China."  I don't know anything that the orphanage worker or our guide told her as it was all in Mandarin.  After about 10 minutes of her heartbreaking cry it was time for us to leave.  The orphanage worker walked us out of the orphanage and Daddy carried Claire to the van, while she was crying, pleading and begging to stay.  We were put in the van, Claire sitting on her new Daddy's lap and we left.  She was crying, I was crying and our guide was repeatedly trying to reassure her.

It felt like we had just kidnapped her, and by all accounts, I'm sure that is what it appeared like as well.  Two Americans in the back of a van with a Chinese child being held while she screamed; not exactly what I had pictured in my head of the day we met her.

Once she stopped crying hysterically she rejected anything our guide would say.  Our guide would try to redirect her attention to the baby doll we brought, she grunted and pushed it away from her.  Our guide would say something about her new Mommy and Daddy and she would yell out a very hostile "bu shi" (NO).

Even though I knew this could happen and actually expected it to happen, it still caught me off guard.  I was surprised by the way it made me feel.

I felt so wrong, like we were not doing the right thing, like we just kidnapped a child.  I questioned everything.
I questioned our motives.  Were we being selfish and doing what we wanted and not what was really best for her?
Was she better off staying here in China with her foster family?
I felt completely helpless.

I didn't know what I was supposed to feel; immense joy that we were just given our daughter we'd dreamed of or extreme guilt and hurt that we were breaking this little girl's heart?  I didn't really know how to process what I was feeling; I wasn't really able to think beyond that exact moment and what Claire must be feeling.  I couldn't see past that moment and it was almost like I had blinders on and the future was literally one minute at a time.  I focused on the time in the van and didn't think much about getting back to the hotel; I simply couldn't think that far ahead.  The only thing other than Claire that my mind thought of is that we needed prayer.  I prayed the whole time we were in the van and used the rented cell phone to call my mom back in the states to tell her to start praying for us.  Honestly, I have no idea what time it was in the states and I didn't even think of that at the time; I just knew we needed as many prayers as we could get.

We stopped at a Kodak store on the way back to the hotel to have our photo taken for our adoption registration.  Our guide and the worker at the Kodak store dried Claire's tears and tried to make her look somewhat happy in the photo.  That didn't work, she has one mad scowl on her face in our registration photo.

We got back to our hotel and had about an hour and a half to get some lunch and hopefully get Claire to calm down.  She was very quiet at first.  I can't begin to imagine what she must have been thinking.  Two people that look nothing like her nor speak her language picked her up, took her picture and brought her to a place unknown to her.  Looking back now, I'm surprised she didn't fight longer.

We fed her a big plate of egg fried rice, her favorite, and opened up the suitcase full of toys.  By the time we left for our appointment with the government official she had warmed up and showed our guide the toys she brought to play with.  The second time we arrived back at our hotel she went with us willingly and the rest is history.

God is good.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Letting the guard down

After reading many stories from other parents who adopted older children I expected Claire to resist affection from us and also not want to share affection with us either.  I was surprised when she kissed Daddy on the cheek the first day and didn't physically resist a hug.  In fact, she never resisted hugs or kisses so I was a bit surprised after reading that most older children do resist it.  I mean, I can understand not wanting someone you just met to hug you.

I never really thought much about it except for the fleeting thought of that it was one challenge we didn't have to work through.  That is until about a week or so ago.  Even though Claire didn't resist affection from us and would show us affection as well I noticed a shift in her; almost like a guard came down and we worked our ways into her heart a little more.

She hugs back now.  I mean really grabs on and hugs back instead of having her arms around us but we're really doing the hugging.  She seeks me out to give me a kiss.  When it's time for the kids to catch the bus they wait in our front yard until the bus starts coming down the street and then they hurry to to the bus stop.  Every day this week she has run back up to the front porch towards me.  The first day I said "what's wrong honey, did you forget something?" and she smiled and said "no, I give you kiss."  She had big puckered lips and laid a big fat kiss on my cheek and then ran off saying "bye bye Mommy, I love you."  It just made my heart melt.

She initiates the affection now and I can clearly see it is different than before; even though I didn't know before that anything was off.  It is so neat to see the guards come down and her heart fully open up to us.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Older Child Chronicles: Part 2

Packing Your Suitcases

I dug around for the packing list I used for our trip and luckily I found it. Here are the basics:

I recommend casual clothes with one outfit that is a little nicer for appointments with government officials and "gotcha" day. I took more clothes than recommended and ended up glad that I did. Our laundry in Beijing took 4 days so if I had only taken 3-4 outfits as recommended I would have been wearing the same thing for 4 days while I waited for the laundry to be done.  It is going to be easier to rewear clothes if you travel in the cooler months because your clothes are going to get raunchy quick when it's hot out; especially in Guangzhou.  Pack one outfit for each person traveling in a carry on so if your luggage gets lost you will have at least two outfits to get you by until the luggage is found.  I packed two sets of undergarments in my carry on as well so I could change during the flight if I wanted to and still have another set if my luggage got lost.

Clothes for your new child
A lot of people say to take only a couple of things and then buy clothes in China after you have them so you have the right size.  I didn't do that.  I used the measurements I got and bought clothes according to size charts.  The most helpful ones I found were Lands End and Children's Place charts.  If the measurements you receive are during the winter, assume they are a bit bigger than what your child actually is.  They layer on those heavy winter clothes and that adds a few pounds.  The measurements I got for Claire right before we left were 44 lbs and 45 inches tall.  She was really about 38-39 lbs and 43-44 inches tall.  This made a difference of an entire size.  So, I would estimate on the smaller side of clothes.  I brought everything for her, clothes, panties, pajamas, socks, shoes, coat, mittens, hat, etc.  I thought she'd come to us with a coat but I wanted to be prepared in case the orphanage wanted to keep it.
Also assume the foot measurement you get (if you get one) was taken with their shoes on, not of their actual foot.  The measurement I got for Claire was 7.1" (after I converted the cm to inches) which was a size 12.  This sounded right to me because my nephew was about the same size and wore a 12-13 shoe.  So I bought size 12 boots and took them with us.  Imagine my surprise when I saw the size of shoe she really wore!  She actually wore a toddlers size 9 shoe and is just now in a 10 1/2 toddlers.

Goodies for your new child

I had to go back and find a couple of pictures to try and remind myself of the things we took for Claire.  I took a lot of stuff but I'm glad I did because she moved from one thing to the next very quickly and I had enough to keep her occupied.  Here is a list:
Calin Doll-  I bought this doll long before we traveled.  As part of our last care package I wrote a simple story book with pictures for Claire to introduce our family and also help her understand what was going to happen.  We took a picture of everyone with the doll to include in the book and then I brought the doll with us when we met her for the first time.  She immediately recognized the doll and got the book out of her backpack and showed us that they were the same.  Definite hit!  I took clothes for this doll too so she could change her clothes.  She played with the doll and clothes a lot while we were in China.
Back Pack- Hello Kitty is huge in China so I got one with Hello Kitty on it.  Now I think Dora would have been even better.  We took this backpack with us when we met her filled with Teddy Grahams, M&Ms, sunglasses, small coloring book, crayons, little ladybug and her doll.
Leapster- We already had a Leapster (and lots of games) from Matthew so it wasn't something I had to buy just for her.  But, if I had to I probably would because it was the most played with toy I took.  Even though she really didn't understand the games, she enjoyed playing with it and was hearing English while she played.  The favorite game was Mr. Pencil because it is coloring and drawing; even though she didn't know English yet she figured this game out really quickly.
Kids Meal toys- When we eat out I get a kids meal most of the time so I saved those little toys and put them in the suitcase.  These were small and could be crammed down inside a shoe for packing and she liked a lot of them.
Hair bows

Hair brush- Bring one for the child just in case you run into an issue like lice.
Water bottle- the one I found had a snack container that screwed onto the bottom.  We used this during our outings in case she got hungry or thirsty.
Books- I wouldn't take too many and I'd only take easy ones.   The wordy books I took kept her attention for a total of 20 seconds; she had no idea what on Earth I was saying so she lost interest really fast.  The toddler books I took were the best.  Ones like First 100 Words (Bright Baby)My First Colors Board Book (My 1st Board Books)Big Board Books Colors, ABC, Numbers (Bright Baby) are the best, in my opinion.  You can open it, tell the child what the words are and when they lose interest you can put it away until next time.  We taught Claire all the colors in English before we left China and it was with a simple colors book aimed at toddlers.  We also knew the colors in Chinese so we would show her a blue page and say "lanse, blue."
Crayons, coloring books, blank doodle books- Try to get one of the smaller, top bound books so it fits in a backpack easily for plane rides, etc.
Beach ball- a definite must have.  I brought two and we played with them a lot.  We also used it to help her learn the colors.  We would point to a color on the ball, say it's name and then throw it.  She started doing the same thing quickly.
Inflatable swim ring- She really liked this too; she thought it was fun to lay on it on the floor and we also used it to play beach ball basketball.
Bubbles- Don't forget bubbles!  They brought the first smiles and giggles from Claire.
Bath toys- I bought small, cheap ones and then left them behind when we came home.  Claire loved taking a bath so these were a good thing to bring.  They could also help a child who is scared of the bath feel a bit more comfortable.
Pictures of your house, their new room, and family members.

Most of what I brought, except for the doll, backpack and Leapster were things I found at Target's dollar spot.  That way if something got broken, lost or left behind it wasn't a big deal.

I dreaded taking up precious space and luggage weight by packing all the different medicines.  But then I'd think, if I get XYZ in China, do I want to try and find a medicine to treat it?  Short answer- NO!  So, I packed all the medicines, just in case and I would probably do the same thing again.  There are pharmacies in China and the pharmacists are very helpful so if you don't want to take all this stuff but find you need treatment for something there get your guide to take you to a pharmacy.

Pain relievers- Adult and child  (If your child has a special need that compromises the liver, take only Tylenol,)
Sleep aid- Some people may feel as though they don't need this but having something to help you fall asleep is very helpful on the airplane and the first few days in China while you're getting used to the time difference.  You could take a pain reliever PM, or something like Simply Sleep or Melatonin.
Cold medicine- Bring one antihistamine and one decongestant.  You may need the decongestant if you will be in a large city with a lot of smog.  Bring allergy and/or asthma medicine if you use it here.  The air quality there is atrocious and will make asthma sufferers miserable.  Saline spray would be helpful for pollution induced issues too.  Bring a child version of cold medicine as well.
Acidophilus- the good bacteria in yogurt that helps "right" your digestive system.  There is plenty of things in China that will mess up your digestive system so you can try and keep it balanced by taking Acidophilus regularly.  Another help is to eat the yogurt there to help your system stay balanced eating food there.  The yogurt there is very good; it has a thinner consistency than our yogurt and a bit sweeter.
Stomach settlers- Pepto Bismol and Immodium.   We didn't need the Immodium but I did take Pepto Bismol for the first several days because my stomach just didn't feel "right".  I never got sick but I did notice the Pepto Bismol took away that feeling of "oh my, this isn't headed in a good direction."  When we ate traditional Chinese food I would take it before I ate.
Cipro- You will have to get this from your doctor.  It is an antibiotic you will need to take if you get sick from the water.  It is also a broad spectrum antibiotic so if you need one for something else it will probably work.  My doctor wasn't comfortable giving us medicine to take just in case but this one she was OK with because it is a CDC recommended treatment for an illness related to water supply.
Band-aids, antibiotic ointment- bring fun ones for the child because you'll probably need at least one or two.  Or you'll need a whole bunch if something like this happens to your child too.
Hydrocortisone cream
Yeast infection treatment- hopefully you will not need it but this is one of those "do I want to be in China when I get this and not have a treatment box written in English?"  Big fat NO.
Powdered pedialite- This may apply more to younger children but I took it just in case.  The only store I found this at was Walgreens.
Insect repellent

Lotrimin AF for rashes
Lice treatment- Again, one of those you probably won't use but if you need it the $10 box will be priceless.

Shampoo, conditioner- I bought the bottles in the travel section and filled them with my own shampoo, conditioner.  That gave me enough stuff for the 20 days but also took up less room than a full size bottle.  I brought child shampoo as well.
Hair products that you can't live without
Razors (make sure to pack in your checked bag or it will be taken away at airport security)
Shaving cream
Brushes, combs
Nail clipper and nail file
Travel packs of tissues
hair clips, rubber bands
moist wipes

Misc. Items to pack
Travel sewing kit
Locks for your suitcases- make sure you get the TSA approved locks.  It is very important to lock your suitcases when taking domestic China flights as well.  We went with combination locks even though they were a few dollars more.  I can't imagine losing the key to my suitcase half-way around the world.
Food- Dry snacks, something you can cook with boiling water like oatmeal, easy mac, etc.  I forgot to pack our instant oatmeal and was so bummed because there were many times it would have been a welcomed lunch or dinner in the room.  Also pack a small thermos so you can have something to make your food in and then eat it.  We bought plastic silverware there but I'd throw a few in your suitcase as well.
Peanut butter and you can buy crackers there.  Since I forgot the oatmeal, peanut butter on crackers became lunch and dinner sometimes.  I bought the individual peanut butter containers so I could only use a little but at a time if I wanted.
Gum, mints- this will help keeping you from tossing your lunch when hit with the many smells of China
Ziploc bags- a MUST have.  Bring different sizes.  I packed a lot of stuff in ziploc bags to keep it all organized and then I could use them for other things I needed in China.  I packed Claire's clothes in ziploc bags, by outfit, so I could get them in the suitcase in the best way to take up less space.  The most useful bags I packed were the x- large ones with a handle.  I found them at the dollar store- 2 for $1.  We used them a ton!  We used the snack size bags along with a thin piece of cardboard to transport our money within our money belts; that way the money wouldn't get wet if we got sweaty.
Travel size detergent- Powdered is the best for traveling.  I make my own detergent so I placed enough for 2 loads in a ziploc.  I washed many clothes in the bathtub of our room.  See?
Hand sanitizer- squatty potties don't have sinks usually
Travel alarm- find one that uses batteries
Magazines, books- something to occupy all the time you will sit on a plane
Plug adapter- This worked great until I tried to plug in the hair dryer with it and POOF, it blew a fuse.  That happened on the second or third day there so we didn't have the rest of the trip.  That was OK because we took things that were dual voltage and the hotel had a plug (usually on or around the desk) that would accommodate western style plugs.  It was not a voltage converter so you still have to make sure what you plug in will handle 220V.
Laptop- Some people are able to travel without one but we couldn't.  We skyped every day with our 3 other children back home, and updated our blog.  We bought a cheap netbook that was lightweight and small.
Plastic zippered envelope for all your adoption papers.  I bought two, one for papers we needed to carry with us (USCIS approval, travel approval, etc.) and one for documents and receipts we received from officials.  Make sure you write on the receipt what it was for and the amount because it will all be in Chinese.  That way when you get home and organize your receipts for tax purposes you know what each one was for.  I also took along a separate folder that had a copy of all critical documents, our entire dossier and several copies of our passport.  Just about every official visit in China will require a copy of your passport and Chinese visa.
Gifts- We needed 4, orphanage director, nanny, civil affairs official and the notary.  Make them small and don't stress too much about it.  They don't open them in front of you and it is seriously just a formality and not personable.  I included: lotion, lipstick and hand sanitizer (travel sized and bought during clearance time) from Bath and Body Works (made in the US), a postcard from our city with Chinese on the back thanking them for their role in our adoption, and a package of Jelly Belly jelly beans (also made in the US).  They can't buy Jelly Bellies there and they like them.  I packed small red bags (like a lunch bag) and gold tissue paper and assembled the gift bags there.

Try not to let packing stress you out.  It IS stressful but the most important things are your passports, visa, money and adoption paperwork.  If you have those then you can wear the same clothes every day and buy shampoo and a toothbrush when you get there.   It will all be OK.

Good luck!  Pretty soon you will have your bags all packed for the biggest trip of your life, just like this.