Thursday, June 30, 2011

He has a name!

And it is...
Andrew Zan Bollinger.
"Zan" is translated: "Praise".
We're keeping it, because we praise God for gifting us with him!
What a treasure!

Precious Andrew, welcome to your "Forever Family".
We can't wait to hold and kiss you!!!
But, until the day you are in our arms,
here's hugs and kisses from across the ocean
from your daddy, mommy, and big sister:
We love you!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Positive Identification?

We have joined a group of adoptive/adopting parents who have children from/in Luoyang City Children's Welfare Institute, Henan Province. People that go over to the orphanage to visit or pick up their children take pictures of the other children, so parents can see the lives their children are currently living, etc. A member of the Yahoo Group took pictures of various children, and this one looks like Zan:
What do you think? We think he looks like our son.

Also, guess who else visited our son's orphanage?
(You may need to click on the picture to enlarge it.)
Steven Curtis Chapman and his family!

Thanks, Yahoo Group, for the pictures! We look forward to returning the favor when we go over the big pond!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Grocery List

With how busy things have gotten lately with paperwork, Cherish has found another way to help me. While I make breakfast, Cherish writes lists for me. Here's a grocery list that she wrote this morning, and yes, I take her lists to the store just the way they are.

cheese (she learned the ch- sound from her name)
green beans
corn chips
ice cream

I really appreciate how Cherish is always looking for ways to help me out. She has such a sweet heart!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Library Reading Program

Our public library puts on a contest every summer to keep the children practicing their reading (or listening) skills. Last year we logged "hours" spent reading (or listening) to books. This summer, our library has asked each child to log the number of books read (or listened to) and to choose a goal for the number of books a child can accomplish by the end of the summer. I chose 75 books for Cherish, given that we'll be going on vacation, etc.

Well, the contest began June 1st, and tonight we accomplished Cherish's personal goal. 75 books. That girl LOVES books. I mean, that girl LOVES books!

Since today she has been lying down most of the day with a fever, she requested lots of books, and so, I snuggled up next to her and read. Um, like 23 books today alone!

Each week the library gives out rewards for any amount of reading that was done the previous week, and at the end of reaching one's personal goal, the child gets to pick out a new book to keep.

Tonight Cherish has been squealing with excitement over the fact that she gets to "get a book from the library that [she] doesn't have to give back!" Cute!

So, on Monday, we'll turn in her reading log in exchange for her prizes (one for reading this week and one for accomplishing her goal). Secretly, I'm excited for her, too.

I've often wondered why Cherish loves "reading" books so much. My guess has been that she is head-over-heels in love with snuggling, and reading books together brings about her favorite pastime. (Which I'm OK with, given that snuggling is my favorite pastime, too!)

Well, I guessed right, because tonight before Cherish went to bed, I told her that I noticed she was feeling better and I was so happy. Her countenance fell, and she looked very sad. I asked why she was so sad, and she said, "I liked being sick, because I loved snuggling with you all day." Such sweetness!

Getting Immunized; Preparing for Travel

Cherish had to get her 4-year-old immunizations, and yesterday was the "special" day. She had a rough night last night, and today she's been suffering a great deal. She's had a 103.4°F fever with fever-reducing-medication, and one of the injection sites is causing her agony. Poor girl.

Thank goodness this will all be behind us before we leave for China to bring home baby brother!

Little One, we are all getting ready to come get you. We can't wait for you to join your "forever family"!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thank goodness for playmates!

These two girls spent 7 hours together yesterday so that I could have time to complete form I-800 and its supporting documents. I needed total concentration, and between yesterday's play date and today's play time at the library, I was able to complete the documents and make the deadlines laid out for us (thanks to FedEx, as well!).

Playing "Dress Up"
Cherish in momma's dress, Alex in Cherish's Cinderella outfit:
Playmates. It's sweetness!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

While in the state of zombiness...

This will be a totally random post as we have been so busy completing adoption paperwork (as quickly as possible), taking Internet adoption classes after Cherish is asleep at night, and finishing up projects around the house. Sleep has been on the back burner for about two weeks. We are zombies!

And, for some reason, I have time to sleep right now, but, no. Nothing. Can't catch those zzzz's. They're floating around out there somewhere, but they ain't anywhere near me. Perhaps the state of "zombi-ness" has to wear off....

Well, zombies or not, we press on. We want to give special thanks to Uncle Acie for coming to visit in order to show Derek how to use his new miter saw. (Next time, Derek has to ask for a birthday present that will not give me a hernia from lifting it!)

Here the two are working on the chair rail in our kitchen:
 Perfectionist (thankyouverymuch!):
"Hey, Derek, get back to work and stop goofing off!"
 The serious one checking out his beautiful work:
Thank you, Uncle Acie!!!

Also, a couple of days ago I walked into Cherish's room and she was cleaning it!
Yep, just happened to walk in to her room,
and she was cleaning it without any prompting from me.
(Shock of all shocks)
When I entered her room I saw this:
Catch it?
She had hung a shirt by a clothes pin on the blinds!

Later that night, the House Fairy Helper thought she deserved a gift for passing inspection:
(She had not passed the previous room inspection.)
House Fairy--with momma as the "Helper".
Yep, it's a beautiful thing.
No nagging. No arguments. No complaining.
It's wonderful!
Happy Cherish. Happy momma!

Then, zombie-mommy played "patient" with nurse Cherish throughout this last week.
Hey, I was "working" at playing, not just taking any excuse to lie down ;-).

Then there are the swim classes...another shock: she put her head under water!
When I was praising Cherish in the car, 
she told me that her swim teacher pulls her under water by one or both of her arms.
Yet, Cherish continues to trust her; so, it's all good.

 Cherish's favorite part...jumping:
 Look at those hands grabbing for security:
Side note: She "swims" in the inside pool and jumps in the outside pool.
That's why the pictures vary so greatly.

Well, Cherish just fell asleep, so I'm off to my second-to-last adoption class....

Friday, June 17, 2011

Today's Important Sayings by Cherish

To set the stage, Cherish has been saving money in a piggy bank ever since she was 12-months-old. It’s her “China” piggy bank—her own spending money for our next trip to China. We’ve always told her the money would be saved to buy special souvenirs for herself from her homeland. She has saved over $120.00—thanks to Uncle Paul!

This morning Cherish told me that she had money in her piggy bank that she was going to give daddy and me so that we could “get baby Hope right away, too” (i.e. right after Zan). She said she would give us all her money to bring her baby sister home. Then, if daddy and I don’t have enough money already to bring Zan home, then if she had any money left over from “getting Hope”, she’d give that money to us for Zan. My heart broke from her tenderness.

Before bed, she told her daddy the same thing.

Sweet love .

This afternoon she said something else. I recorded this one immediately, so I would get every word correctly:

Mommy: “Cherish, I love your tan skin! It’s so beautiful! Can we trade skin for a while?”

Cherish: “No-o-o-o. You need to be happy with the skin God gave you, because I’m happy with the skin God gave me! Anyway, I want to be the same as my baby brother and sister. I want all of us to look the same, and I want you and daddy to have the same skin. And everyone needs to be happy with what God gave them.”

What a girl! She amazes me.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

God, working His plan…

When I woke up this morning, I was struck with a thought.

There are specific women in the Bible listed as having had their wombs closed by God for a time. God had a plan, and He was going to unfold His plan, in His time, for His reasons.

Sarah: the mother of Isaac.
Rebekah: the mother of Jacob.
Rachel: the mother of Joseph.
Hannah: the mother of Samuel.
Elizabeth: the mother of John the Baptist (the one born to proclaim the coming of the Savior—Jesus)

Did you catch it?
God closed these women’s wombs, and when He opened them, He gave a boy.
And, God used these men mightily!

Derek and I keep marveling over the fact that we are getting a boy. For years and years Derek had desired girls. Therefore, it was easy to plan for multiple daughters knowing that each dress, tiara, “glass slipper”, etc. would be passed down and used numerous times. (And Cherish is girly-girly…dresses, tiaras, jewelry, princesses, and dolls mark her life right now.)

We did not plan for a boy—thus the reason we don’t have a name.

That all changed last Sunday during the morning worship service. Upon returning home Derek told me that he felt led to change our adoption profile to “either”—that we would accept either a boy or a girl. Long story short, we electronically put in a form to our agency telling them of our interest. By Sunday evening, Derek found Zan Cheng on their website, we talked together and then sent an e-mail to our agency asking if the little one was still available. He was.

We began walking forward, and so far on this journey, “doors” have swung open before us. We have stood in awe and marveled over and over again.

Never, never did we think when we woke up last Sunday morning that we would be China-bound in such a short time. Derek was planning for about three more years in the future. But, God. He had a plan, and He is working out His plan in His timing!

God also reminded me this morning that I had once reverently prayed for children that would be bold proclaimers of Christ. And, I had prayed for a boy. A boy.

Another note-worthy thought: adopted children had a huge part to play in the Bible as well. Take Moses and Esther for example. Moses—one of the leaders of Israel and the author of the first five books of the Bible. Esther—became queen and saved her people (the Israelites) from annihilation.

So, Zan, we are excited to see what plans God has for you in the upcoming years.

Your mom and dad are so excited about bringing you home and are working hard to bring you home quickly. We L♥VE you IMMENSELY! (Actually, we are head-over-heels in love with you!)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pre-Approval Status

Today we received "pre-approval" from China to adopt Dang Zan Cheng (surname, first name, middle name.) With the "pre-approval" status, we are able to upload pictures and share the information online.

So, here are two of the first pictures we have received:
He's our son!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Cost of Adoption

I have been thinking a lot lately about the cost of adoption.

Since announcing we are adopting again, people often ask us: “Doesn’t it cost a lot?” “Isn’t it expensive?”

Well, like ½ a penny.

Compared to what Jesus “gave up” and sacrificed to adopt me into His family.
His forever family.
Such LOVE.

International adoption?
Compared to being bought with Jesus’ blood.


Status of "daughter".

Jesus’ Love:
Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.1

Child adoption. Similarities. Yes.
But it costs nothing compared to the price Jesus paid to adopted me into His family.

Real adoption:

1 Sally Lloyd-Jones, The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name. (Grand Rapids: Zonderkidz, 2007), 173.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

New Look. New Name. New Plans.

Well, we had to change the name of our blog for obvious reasons. "Our Journey to Hope" certainly wouldn't fit with being matched with a boy first. And, since we are adopting a little boy, the pink background had to be changed.

It's all good!

Friday, June 10, 2011

One Race

I am continually shocked by people's negative attitudes toward "biracial" families. Angered, really.

Yes, we are a multicultural family.
But there is only one race.
The human race.

True, there are different cultures, different languages, different traditions....
But, one race.
All descendants of Adam or Noah (depending on how you choose to look at it).
One race.

I just happened to be reading Genesis 10:32 today, "All these peoples are the descendants of Noah, nation by nation, according to their different lines of descent. After the flood all the nations of the earth were descended from the sons of Noah."

One race.
It leaves no place for prejudice.

Therefore, we are not a "biracial" family.
We are a family.
A family.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sweet Son,

We know you have a name that is "meant to be". We are praying about what name should be.

We love you!
Hugs and kisses,
Daddy and Mommy

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

We interrupt "Our Journey to Hope" to...

adopt a baby boy!

Today is Derek's birthday.
Today we sent in our LOI (Letter of Intent).
What a day!
What a birthday present!

More details to come about our son, as we have been asked to wait until we receive "Pre-Approval" from China to share pictures and information on the Web.

P.S. We thought our second child was going to be a girl (Hope).
God had other plans.

Dragon Boat Festival

We are members of a group of families with children from China. The group gets together often.

We got together earlier this week for the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival, brought boats, shared a meal, and had play time. (The children were asked to make "dragon boats" any way they wanted--no need to be sea-worthy.)

Cherish was so excited. Here's hers--it's the one with the princesses, Dora, etc. taking a ride on the top of the boat:
Very creative:
 Girl talk:

Monday, June 6, 2011

Adoption Progress

Sunday, June 5: We submitted our "Medical Conditions Checklist" with CCAI and, in accordance with Hague requirements, we began our 12 hours (each) of international adoption parenting classes.

I cried so many tears of joy as God has now moved in Derek's heart to begin this part of the process. We continue to wait, pray, and seek God's plans for our family.

Friday, June 3, 2011

First Day of Swimming Lessons

Cherish's swimming lessons will consist of two children and one adult. It's good that Cherish has another child to inspire her and push her along. (The other girl has been taking lessons for a month.)
"Can you try moving your arms while swimming?"
"Blow big bubbles."
After practicing to swim for about 20 minutes,
they went to the outside pool to practice jumping in.
Cherish had a lot of fun on day one. She did not want to put her head under water (to swim or dive for rings), but she said she may try to put her head under water on day two. We shall see....

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Summer is well underway!

We've been swimming for about two weeks now and greatly enjoying it. The water is already warm! (And, personally, I'm a bath-water kind of girl. Bring on the warmth, baby!)
 Coming out of the deep end. She's brave with those arm floaties.
 Races with daddy:
Cherish is comfortable in the water--now that I have replaced her lost arm floaties. She feels she knows how to swim. However, daddy and mommy know better. Swim lessons begin today.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Cousin Time

Well, we are empty-nesters right now...well, it feels like it.

We've been enjoying company for several days, and the leaving of relatives has left one heart in particular very sad. Thus, we are at the library right now filling a void by having Cherish play with other children. As I type, I am watching Cherish play with a new friend.

We were blessed to have my cousin, her daughter (Cierra), and my mom here for a visit. Cierra and Cherish hadn't seen each other in a year, and they made up for lost time. They enjoyed playing dolls, jumping on the trampoline, swimming, doing each other hair and nails, reading, and enjoying "slumber parties".

"Best Buddies for Life"
(as they were chanting their last night sleeping together):
 "Hair Salon" is serious business:
 Cierra is 11. Cherish is 4.
 Cherish just learned how to put rubber bands in.
 Cierra is SO PATIENT and KIND!!!!!
 WOW! Good job, Cherish! =)
We are counting down the days until we are together again--in July! Yay!