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Eight-year-old Andrew "Bobo" Speakman has plenty to "Yahoo!" about these days.

He spends a good deal of his time running around his new Ohio home, literally shouting "Yahoo!" in the embrace of a warm family affection he's never before known.

Piggyback rides on the back of a new dad, cuddles from three new younger sisters, and a mother whose love crossed an ocean to claim her son, have replaced the Chinese orphanage where he was born.

In a most significant way, Northwest Indiana is responsible for all the "Yahooing."

Regular Times readers will remember columns I wrote about Andrew — who most will remember by his nickname, Bobo — after he journeyed to Northwest Indiana during the 2015 holiday season.

At that time, Bobo was being sponsored for a U.S. visit by Wheatfield mom Jill Terborg.

Terborg adopted both of her daughters, Ella, now 10, and Lexie, now 8, from Chinese orphanages.

Lexie left behind a best friend, Bobo, in 2012, when she journeyed to Northwest Indiana for a new life with a loving mother. Though she adored her family, she frequently would cry herself to sleep thinking about Bobo during her first few months in the Region.

Terborg never forgot about Bobo, and the family hosted him for several weeks in late 2015 through a program aimed at helping match Chinese orphans with forever families.

For those thirsting for a happy ending, here it is.

Melissa and Ric Speakman, of Ohio, became aware of Bobo's story through social media and Melissa's mother, who lives in Wheatfield and is a friend of Terborg's family.

Melissa Speakman said it didn't take her family long to realize they wanted Bobo — an inquisitive little boy who loves any toy with assembly required — to be a part of their fold.

Though Bobo flew back to China in early 2016 amid tearful goodbyes from the Terborg family, gears already were in motion for a more permanent return trip to the United States.

Melissa, who home-schools her three young daughters, and Ric, now an Air Force lieutenant colonel, initiated proceedings to adopt Bobo shortly after he returned to his Chinese orphanage.

Meanwhile, some concerned Times readers, including one particularly generous and anonymous one, began putting money into a special account to help offset costs of adopting Bobo.

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It all culminated in Melissa and Ric journeying to China in February to finalize Bobo's adoption.

Melissa admits the first meeting with their new son was awkward. They had never met Bobo, whose American name is Andrew, in person before.

Part of the adoption process required the Speakmans to spend two weeks in China with Andrew, finalizing paperwork and visiting sites of Chinese culture. It didn't take long for the little boy, whose "sweet voice" now reverberates throughout the Speakmans' home, to bond with his new parents, Melissa said.

Social media posts captured the two magical weeks after Andrew met his mother and father. Trips to the Great Wall, which Andrew had never visited, piggyback rides on Ric's back and huge grins as Andrew and Ric chucked food to monkeys at Guangzhou's Safari Park abound on the Speakmans' Facebook feed.

Their social media page also shows a tender photo of Melissa hugging a sleeping, seatbelt-strapped Andrew, and another of the boy smiling from a Chinese hotel window in his mother's embrace.

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Andrew has been home with his new family for a scant few weeks, and there have been challenges.

The little boy can become agitated at night before bed, as if he's fearful of something, Melissa said. A language barrier will no doubt persist for some time.

But the happiness and excitement of a whole new world — for both Andrew and his family — outweigh those challenges, Melissa said.

Andrew frequently becomes jubilant during family activities — planting seeds in the backyard, bowling or playing with his sisters, twins Katie and Emily, 8, and Hannah, 6. The euphoria often releases itself in a loud "Yahoo!"

Andrew also greets Melissa and Ric with outstretched arms, calling for Mommy and Daddy.

They're two familial words most of us take for granted, and Andrew has never before known their true meaning — in English or Chinese.

Having lived his entire life in an orphanage, one must wonder if it's all set in yet. Are the fearful bedtime episodes a concern that he'll wake up, and this new, loving family will be gone with the sunrise?

Fortunately for Andrew, his experiences are real and here to stay, and Northwest Indiana played a role in making it so.

It seems a lifetime for Andrew has been packed into his experiences of the last year: journeying to Northwest Indiana after never before leaving China, returning to his Chinese orphanage and then coming back to our country a year later with his forever family.

In reality, Andrew's story is only beginning. Thanks to some huge hearts, the next chapters will contain narratives of family love and support — a language no longer foreign to a little boy named Andrew, who we once knew as Bobo.

Editorial Page Editor Marc Chase can be reached at (219) 662-5330 or marc.chase@nwi.com. Follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/marc.chase.9 or Twitter @nwi_MarcChase. The opinions are the writer's.

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