A New Name, A New Life

When selecting a name for our biological son, we agreed on a girl name first. Will’s paternal grandmother’s maiden name. It took us forever to come up with a boy name we both agreed on. Finally, we chose Ollin Taylor as our son’s name- Ollin with an “O” sound like Olive. His only living great-grandma is named Olene (long “O”) and we wanted to honor her. She is an amazing 93 year old lady, full of  kind words and wisdom. We hope he follows in her footsteps one day. So, he has the “boy version” of her name. Taylor is Will’s middle name and Will’s paternal grandfathers’ middle name. We thought like father, like son. It seemed fitting and we like it.

Since we’ve been through this before we were sure, if we had a girl this time around, we already had a name selected that we both still like very much. And that was that. So we thought.

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Then we saw this beautiful face. We have learned about her background, personality, and medical history. The girl name we thought we had figured out just didn’t fit this fun loving personality and the joy we see in her despite her circumstances.

However, she already has a name. She may have had a name that her biological family called her before her going to the orphanage but we will never know. She was given a name upon her admittance to her children’s home at only 10 days old, Long Ye Qiu. Long is her sir name and she goes by Qiu. They actually call her Qiu Qiu, pronounced Cho Cho, meaning “Autumn.” She is already a toddler. This is the name that she is familiar with and the name others use to identify her. It’s kind of strange to re-name a child who already has a name that she is accustomed to hearing.

At first so much will be new in her world that we will probably call her Cho Cho (Qiu Qiu) most of the time. Then we’ll gradually start calling her by her new name as she starts to adjust to her new life and be comfortable with her surroundings. Who knows, we might always call her by her nick-name, Cho Cho. We like it and we like nick-names.

We don’t have any regrets about changing her name though. Her identity will be changing just as our identity changed when God adopted us. She is becoming a Chinese-American. She is also becoming a Bowling, our daughter. We want to honor her Chinese heritage while also giving her a family name. So, here it is…

Anli Joy Bowling

An is a Chinese name meaning “Peace.” Ann is an English name meaning “Gracious & Merciful.” Ann is my mom’s middle name. We hope she is merciful and patient just like her MiMi.

Le is a Chinese name meaning “Beautiful.” Lee is an English name meaning “Sheltered from the storm.” Lee is my dad’s middle name. Leigh is also Will’s sister’s middle name.

Joy is not a Chinese name but a family name. My grandma, Memaw’s middle name was Joyce. Joy means “Full of Joy” or “Rejoice.” It is a portion of her great-grandma’s name and we hope she will grow up to be loving, fun and joyful just like her “great”-grandma.

We love her new name. It’s full of family and meaning. It’s classic and new. It’s peaceful, gracious, merciful, beautiful, and joyful. What a perfect way to describe this beautiful gift we have been given. Meet Anli Joy.

Anli Joy or Cho Cho (Qiu Qiu)

Anli Joy or Cho Cho (Qiu Qiu)

 

 

 

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This One’s for the Boys!

This One’s for the Boys!

Let me just preface this post to say even though God brought us to our daughter, I am advocating for the ‘sons’ today.

As we know, there are hundreds of thousands of children growing up in China’s state run welfare institutions without families to take care of them. But what most people don’t know is that there are many more boys waiting in China for their forever family than girls.

Will and I were open to either gender – knowing full and well it was likely we were going to have a boy. We were fully prepared to have another son and, frankly, excited about it.  Sure, boys can be rough, messy and smelly at times, but they are also sweet, cute and cuddly.

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GeGe (translated is cute boy) is one year old. He is quite the little man. She loves to blow bubbles and play on the floor with toys.

There are many factors that contribute to China’s orphan crisis.  The situation is complex and probably bigger than I can begin to comprehend. But here’s what I’ve learned this year.

In the 1970s, China instituted the “One Child Policy,” limiting only one child per couple. When this policy collided with the cultural preference for boys, the result was abandonment of many girls. Although, it may be due to the long time cultural importance of having a son first (as in many countries), sometimes the reason is much more practical.  Much of China’s population live in rural areas and rely on males to farm the land.  When they marry, boys stay with their parents and care for them in old age.  Girls, on the other hand, marry and leave their families and take on the responsibility of helping care for their husband’s parents. In some ways, boys are China’s version of Social Security.

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Meet Daniel – Daniel is three years old and has more joy than you can imagine!!

It is a popular belief that girls are ‘unwanted’ in China. To say gender equality roles are not quite as evolved there are they are here in the states is an understatement. As I understand it, the “One Child Policy” is not as strictly enforced anymore and there is definitely a huge population skew left over from the decades prior. Since we, as Americans, have so long believed girls are not as valued in China as boys, for decades we have chosen to adopt girls.

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MoXi is a six year old cutie. Surrounded by many girls, this little guy is ALL boy!!

Being orphaned and a boy is one of the most difficult special needs to overcome.  I am told, if an adoption agency got a new list with eight babies (4 girls and 4 boys), the girls would be chosen first and the boys would need additional advocating.  Thankfully we are seeing that slowly change.  How wonderful that more boys are finding families now!  But we shouldn’t kid ourselves into thinking that the majority of families, even today, are more open to adopting girls.

If a baby (male or female) is sick or has a defect at birth, they may be abandoned. Parents often can’t afford to care for a child. Or if parents think they are only able to have one, they need to make sure it is going to be a “healthy one.” (Now before you judge, this is not much different than what happens here in America when abortion is a valid option because according to the amniocentesis, the baby has a medical deformity/desease). Yes, in general, many Chinese are not very accepting of people with physical disabilities. Often it is perceived that a family is cursed if their child has a visible abnormality.  They may not be allowed to attend school and it can be difficult for them to find employment.

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Sean is three years old and has Spina Bifida. He is extremely smart and is trying his best to learn to walk.

Even if the child is very loved and wanted, they may be abandoned if they are sick and the family is unable to pay for the child’s medical care. Medical care must be paid for upfront in China, and it is very difficult for many Chinese families to do this. Couples may relinquish their child so he or she can be taken to the orphanage and receive better medical care than the family can provide. How heartbreaking to think that this is the only way a parent may have at saving their child’s life?

We hope that our journey to our child is growing the sense of compassion in our family and in yours.  We also hope it will help people to understand that it is when you give that you truly receive.

The children featured in this post are all boys and are part of Journey of a Joyful Life foster home in China, all in need forever families! We also found our beloved daughter on this Asia waiting child advocate blog by our adoption agency.

“All our dreams can come true, if we just have the courage to pursue them”
-Walt Disney
NOTE: The views and opinions in this blog post do not necessarily reflect the views of Journey of a Joyful Life or Gladney’s Asia Waiting Child blog.

Letter Seeking Confirmation {signed, sealed, delivered}

This week we received the actual hard copy of our Letter of Approval (LOA), otherwise called Letter Seeking Confirmation (LSC). It arrived in an over night FedEx package and stayed in our house a whole hour and a half before it was signed and back in a FedEx package ready to travel around the world again!

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Even though we already considered her a part of our family, there was a new reality that came with signing this letter that we did not have before– new sense of responsibility.

“Based on your application and in accordance with the Adoption Law of the People’s Republic of China, the China Centre for Children’s Welfare and Adoption matched a child with you. Herein we send the information about the child to you. You are kindly requested to make your decision, sign in the proper place below, and deliver this letter as soon as possible to the adoption agency which submitted your application file.”

We checked, “We accept the Adoptee Mentioned Above” and signed it.

It’s official! She’s no longer an orphan!!!

I talked with our case worker as we got the the pile of paperwork ready to mail off to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to make sure everything was in order. She had some other amazing news she shared with me…

She was working extremely hard on Monday getting 9 referrals (LSC’s) packets mailed out to families from our agency. NINE! Nine children are no longer orphans! If that doesn’t call for celebration, I don’t know what does.

“Children are a gift from the Lordthey are a reward from him.”  –Psalms 127:3

We are beyond thrilled, not only for our little girl, but for the eight other families and the eight children who get to meet their forever families soon!

This also means we are likely to be traveling in a few months with a large support group. All of the children are from the same orphanage our daughter is from. It will be great to keep in touch with the families as all the children come home, not only for our sake as parents, but especially for her to have others who can relate to her on a whole other level that we cannot. What a blessing! Celebrating in the goodness of our God!!

 

What a Week!!! {approval, photos and happy moments}

If you have been following along you know we are waiting on the Chinese Adoption Authorities to approve our family to me matched with a little girl who we already consider our own.  Besides the last finalizations that happen in country with our child in tow, this is the BIG approval. From my understanding, once this approval goes though, China considers Will and I her parents. This is the time they will typically tell the kids they now have a momma and baba.

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On Tuesday, two days after her birthday, we received verbal confirmation that WE ARE APPROVED to adopt her!! It’s hard to articulate the emotions we felt when reading these words in our email on Tuesday afternoon.

“To give you another great update, CCCWA has finished their review of your match to your daughter!”

There were definitely tears of joy, overwhelming excitement, and a bit of serial anxiousness. I told Will this can’t be what I think it is. He replied, “This is the first time our case worker has said, ‘your daughter’. Up until now she has just called her by name.”

It is real! We are approved! The gift of family on her birthday! Kind of ironic isn’t it? Three years later but all in God’s perfect timing.

3rd birthday

We received more super exciting updates in our email this week! This Friday we got some photos and video of her birthday party. We were like giddly little kids watching them over and over again! We just can’t get enough of that sweet face and her contagious smile. It is SO GOOD to see her happy! They even sang her Happy Birthday in english for our video. It was so sweet of them and I just love it!

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Not sure if she knows the of good news yet or if she can even comprehend the news at such a young age. But what a great birthday gift! Even if she doesn’t completely understand there are two adults on the other side of the world who are beyond thrilled (plus a large extended family). Celebrating in the goodness and faithfulness of our Lord.

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!”  –Psalms 103:1

3rd birthday

In the adoption world, the approval mentioned earlier is called soft LOA (Letter of Approval). Once the hard copy of the LOA arrives in the mail we will send it to the USCIS for her immigration application. After immigration approval the info will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) to issue her visa. Once the NVC is done they will send Article 5 to the Chinese Adoption Authorities to let them know everything is in order. Then we wait for travel approval (TA). Once we have TA we can schedule our US Consulate appointment. When we get a confirmed appointment, we can book our  flights and go get to our little girl!! This process can take about 2-3 months.

3rd birthday

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We are on the tail end, folks! Soon! Very soon we are going to go meet our daughter and bring her home!

Happy {3rd} Birthday, Precious Child!!

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In our family every time a birthday rolls around it always brings back the nostalgia of the day we were born. For the last 32 years I have heard about the day my parents first saw me. On my son’s birthday, I can’t help but do the same thing and remenise all the feelings we had leading up to that special day. So today as I think of our daughter, I don’t recall any special feelings I had on that day but someone does.

November 2, 2011. Three years ago today a mother had finally felt the release of the last nine months– her body being pulled, stretched and tortured. She had come to the end of the uncomfortableness, the sleepless nights, the bone tired exhaustion. Her body was finally through with its job of giving life. She would no longer share breath. It was time for her body to release the life she had cared for and carried. And she did.

Our precious daughter was born! I often wonder what we were doing on that day. November 2, 2011. I don’t know exactly but maybe I felt some of the same feelings she did. I probably felt a baby kick and flip in my belly just as she did. And just like her I was given the reassurance he was there and he was okay. It was only just a few weeks later we found out we were having a boy! Little did we know, at the time, we also had a girl! A Girl! If God had told us then, I don’t think we would have believed Him. I would’ve laughed just like Sarah did when He told her of His plan to give her a child in old age. (See Genesis 12-21). How could it be?

And so it was true. Our precious daughter was born the same time I was being stretched and contorted.

We have an indescribable gratefulness toward her birth mother. For going through those torturous none months, the marathon of labor and having her body opened wide to release life. It’s not easy. I know. She did not have to do it but she chose to give birth and give life. She must have loved her to endure those things for her.

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Today we celebrated that 3 years ago our precious little one was brought into the world. If she was here she would’ve gotten to make a family favorite- margarita pizza. She could’ve helped make her birthday cake. Her brother loves being our little helper. I’d say it’s safe to assume she will too. It was my first attempt at a homemade cake from scratch. And it was pretty good given I’m NOT a baker. (Let’s just say, me and precise ingredients don’t mix). We had a delicious meal followed by birthday cake and a fun family time of hide-n-seek.

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We talked about her.

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Sang her Happy Birthday.

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And wished she was here.

She also got a sweet birthday card in the mail from her Aunt Vicki which brought tears to her mom’s eyes. It is so good to know she is dearly loved and treasured by her extended family too. It meant a lot to know we aren’t the only ones thinking about her today.

“Sweet girl, Today is your birthday. We are thinking of you and pray you will soon be in our forever family. We all look forward to the day you are home with your Texas family. Your mommy and daddy worked really hard to have you with them. Even though we have never met, you are loved. Your mommy, daddy, and brother will make each birthday from now on special for you.   Love, Aunt Vicki and Uncle Dean”

We will never have all the answers for her about her birth parents. However, I do know this, her birthmother cared about her. She went through a lot for our baby girl. One of my good friends always says, “Having a child is like having your heart walking around outside your body.” It’s true. No matter if that child is wearing another mother’s skin. I wish our daughter knew she has two mamma’s thinking about her today.  Happy 3rd Birthday, precious child!