Sunday, August 14, 2016

The End of a Road, the Beginning of Life

Her time with us is nearing an end. In 4 days, I will fly to Chicago with Fu Yi to meet up with her host group, where they will depart together for their return to China. While we are sad to see her go, God has been preparing our hearts for months. From the beginning, we were fully aware that her travel visa allows her here for 30 days. This hosting experience gave us an opportunity for Fu Yi to stay in our home for one month. We knew this time would eventually end. We knew it wouldn't be easy. But it's what God called us to. And for good reason.

First and foremost, our goal through this hosting program was to show her the love of Jesus. We vowed to pour in to her, showing her true love that she's never experienced before. We promised to love her fiercely, leaving our hearts exposed and vulnerable. By the grace of God, this love had a visible impact. We've witnessed physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, and cognitive growth. The impact of physical touch, soothing voice, strenuous activity, nutritious food, affection and attention are astounding. There's no doubt these experiences over the past month have had miraculous implications. We give God all praise for this work in her life!

Our second mission, as we felt God intended, was to find her a forever family where she could continue to know the love of Christ. We prayed that her identity as a helpless, voiceless orphan would change to that of adopted, protected, and cherished child. Our prayers have been answered! Her family now fights through the process to bring her home. She no longer waits on a list for someone to notice her. She now waits for her Mama and Baba to bring her home. The paperwork, home visits, training, approvals, and reports will take about a year and at the end of the adoption process, she will be home where she belongs.

This story is nothing short of miraculous. Please stop and thank God now for the privilege of witnessing His amazing work. There was a little girl half way around the world who was abandoned and sat in an orphanage, for 5 long years. A file was all she had to identify her. As far as the world was concerned, she didn't exist. But God, in all His mercy, plucked her from the pit. He called our family to simply say "yes" to one step at a time. We didn't know what He'd do with it but we were willing. He gave her a voice, a face, an opportunity to know love. Then, He called another family to answer the call to love her forever, the way He has loved them. "We love because He first loved us." (1John 4:19) This once nameless orphan has been deemed worthy and forever loved. "Praise be to the LORD, for He has heard my cry for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him." (Psalm 28:6-7)

The miracles that have occurred through her visit have gone well beyond what is currently visible. What we do know is that hundreds of seeds have been planted, seeds that God will faithfully water and produce fruit from. People have seen the face of the orphan and hearts have been softened. There is a greater awareness of the reality of the orphan crisis around the globe. Fu Yi's light is so bright and shone for so many to enjoy. Without words, she explained to every person she came in contact with that God is good. She is an image-bearer who reflects His glory from within her eyes. May her memory always point us back to how faithfully God provides for His beloved.

So while you may be tempted to feel sorry, to be sad, to regret what has to happen next, please don't. God's promises are real for Fu Yi. "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." (John 14:18) God has worked mightily on her behalf and we dare not doubt His love for her, now that the tide rises. He draws closer as we need Him more. He never fails, He never leaves. Do we believe that the God who currently holds her in His hand will no longer hold her when she returns to China? Yes, Thursday will be hard for many of us. But we choose to trust the creator of her life, who never disappoints. We give Him praise and worship for all He has done and for all He promises to do. There is no sadness in His sovereignty and the love He pours out through it. There should be no regret in a journey that He has clearly ordained and promises to complete. Our faces are turned to the One who always comforts. We have asked God to guard our hearts, and of course Fu Yi's. He is already providing in this. We now ask for your prayers of gratitude. Let's storm the gates of heaven with our praise and thanksgiving for all that He has done!

We love you, Fu Yi. You are a treasure and we give thanks for God's redemptive work in your life. "You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever." (Psalm 30:11-12)

Friday, August 5, 2016

A Princess is Crowned

About 3 months ago, God presented an opportunity to us. He made it very clear that it was His will that we follow through and live out what He had planned. We had no idea how faithfully He would provide through our obedience in simply saying "Yes." We had no idea the heartache it would cause us. Or the joy.

Almost 6 years old, Fu Yi arrived to us on a Monday. She came with Down Syndrome, scared, exhausted, confused, hungry. She would be staying with us for one month. Our goal, as we felt God intended, was to love her fiercely and pour in to her in a way she's never known. Our secondary mission was to find her a forever family. We would post on FB, tell friends, pray over her, hold open houses where people could meet her, BEG God to soften hearts. She immediately stole our own hearts. Her sweet little stature, that body that appears to be owned by a 3 year old. Her smile and belly laugh that came out in spurts, more and more as time went on. The Mandarin babble she fills the silence with. Her heavy body hanging straight as we hold her tight. She doesn't know how to be loved this way, but she would learn. The nervous chewing of fingers. The eyes that told us so much. All of it. It stole us. So much trauma. Even more beauty. We fell in love.

But would another family fall as hard? I know God has a plan. I know he'll produce fruit from this scenario He's called us to. But what? When? Can we really trust?.....  One, then ten, then a hundred, more messages every day. "Please tell us how to pursue Fu Yi. Can we meet her? When? How much will this cost? How long will it take to bring her home? Can you help us? Have other families inquired? Are we too late? If Fu Yi is not our daughter, still we choose to adopt because of her. Please tell us how to proceed." They flooded in. My personal, heartfelt responses turned in to a game of copy and paste. We couldn't keep up. How can this be? How would God determine who it will be? It was beyond us. It was bigger. It was more than I could keep up with or even comprehend.

Before others, 2 families had contacted the agency at essentially the same time. Both families submitted an application to move forward with the adoption process. 2 families fell deeply in love with Fu Yi. We fell deeply in love with both families. When it became clear that both families were sure Fu Yi could be their daughter, the agency ceased all advocacy efforts on Fu Yi's behalf, as did we. For about a week and a half, the pain was searing, the anxiety was intense, knowing that in the end, one family would not be chosen to parent her. The agency insisted that both spend time with her, that we spend time discerning who would be a better fit. We gave our unbiased opinions of both families and strengths of both. 2 amazing, God-fearing, beautiful-beyond-words families. Please Lord, don't let this be a contest. Reveal to us quickly who her family is. Nothing. Until today.

I received the phone call. "We've made our decision, one of the hardest ones we've ever had to make. Ben and Michelle will be her parents." The family from Maryland who we fell head over heals in love with wouldn't be chosen. This family who we prayed with numerous times, laughed with, cried with, worshipped with, went to the beach with. This family who flew their entire family here to be with Fu Yi, to be with us, most importantly to do what they knew God was calling them to. Not them. Oh the pain. The grief. The feeling of loss and confusion. It's all fresh right now, almost more than I can stomach. God will heal. His plan is perfect and we are so thankful for the rock solid faith this family has in God's sovereignty. We mourn with them but we mourn with hope, knowing His plan is better than ours. Gently God, you break us, all for the glory that you promise to reveal in time.

Ben and Michelle. This other family who we also just met and love so dearly. From the moment they laid eyes on Fu Yi, I am sure they knew. They knew they would love her forever. And we knew we loved them too. Gentle, compassionate, kind, faithful are only a few words to describe this amazing couple who has decided to stand in the gap for Fu Yi. They saw Fu Yi and just knew they had to say "Yes!" They did. Out of beautiful obedience, they are trusting the Lord with each step forward. We are humbled and awestruck by their faith in His plan for their lives and Fu Yi's. Among all the other miracles we have witnessed, it happens that this family lives one hour from us! Yes, Fu Yi, we look forward to watching you grow up in south Louisiana, where you will cheer for the Tigers, sip sweet tea, maybe even suck some crawfish heads.

Oh, my God. You are more. More than I ever imagined. You are beyond my comprehension and my finite faith. You, who are blowing our prayers out of the water, the one who so clearly adores this child, is the God who walked on water, the God who commands angels, the God who rose from the dead, and granted salvation to your enemies. Your miracles are countless and you put them on display for the world to see. I want to see your face God, the face of the One who has not only redeemed Fu Yi but literally hundreds of lives through this ministry. Why us, God? Why do you love us so much that we get to hear your call? Why do we get to sit on the front lines of your unending miracles for the most vulnerable lives, the ones you adore more than any? I am not worthy. I fall at your feet, in awe of the glory you so willingly display.

Fu Yi's story has only just begun. Already she's affected thousands of people. Because of her life and her time here, seeds have been planted, hearts have been encouraged, and quiet longings have morphed in to cross-carrying action for the orphan, the very heart of Jesus. Fu Yi has a family who is fighting to bring her home. Her life has been redeemed and the fruit of that will bud beautifully for all to see over the years to come.

Fu Yi existed as a mug-shot photo orphan with no voice to give life to her generic, inaccurate paper file. God, in all His mercy, has lifted her from that and set her upon a pedestal for all to admire. This beautiful, image-bearer has received the crown she deserves... a Christian family who will love her forever. More importantly, the crown of an heir... heir to her heavenly father, the crown only a princess to the One true King can wear. She has received the promise of eternal riches from her creator, who has pulled her from the pit of despair. May her life here be a beautiful example of what God has done for each of us. From rags to riches, orphan to heir, it's her story. It's my story. I hope it's yours too. Faith in this story is the only requirement to make it so.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Q&A on Adopting a Child with Down Syndrome

In exactly one week, a 5-year-old little girl who lives in an orphanage in China will arrive in the United States. She may not understand what's to come but will be covered in love as she stays with our family for one month. We are praying boldly that a family would step in to the gap for this precious soul, that she would be adopted as their daughter and sister. Her name is Fu Yi and while her disability does not define her, it's important to know that she has Down Syndrome.
 
As you pray about the possibility of Fu Yi being your daughter, perhaps you have questions about what this adoption may look like. We have been blessed with a community of friends who have not only adopted from China but have adopted children who have DS. A couple of these families have graciously agreed to help us answer questions that we are not equipped to answer. More importantly, both families have made it clear that they would be happy to discuss any concerns or further questions with interested families.
 
This blog post is simply a Q&A format. We've asked them questions, they've answered. One family's answers are in red, the other in blue. We pray that this brings some clarity to families who may be asking these questions silently. We encourage you to contact us through email (lauraloman@yahoo.com) with any other questions you may have about Fu Yi, the adoption process, or Down Syndrome. May God stir and soften hearts now and over the weeks to come...
 
 
1. DS children need special attention, as do typical children who are adopted internationally. How do both needs together play out at home?
 
Honestly, I feel like the dominant needs of my child are related to her Down Syndrome diagnosis, not as much the challenges she experiences as an internationally adopted child.  The attachment was far less of an issue than I have observed in my friends who have adopted children.  I think the best way to articulate the dual needs is that perhaps her beginnings in an institution have increased the severity of her need.  For example, she has major feeding issues for multiple reasons including poor oral motor skills and sensory issues relating to the Down Syndrome, however, these issues were amplified because of lack of therapies and awareness of the orphanage. We have had a tremendous amount of therapy to assist her with delays that could have been helped had she gotten early intervention.  I rarely seek support through the typical adoption communities because our needs and experiences are so vastly different.  There is a small community of families who have adopted children with Down Syndrome and it has been a great resource to me.
 
Since this is my first international adoption, as well as my first child who has Down syndrome, it is hard for me to compare which issues stem from being adopted at age 8 internationally and which issues stem from our daughter’s special need.  Showy is such a sweet, joyful child, so her need seems pretty easy to handle most of the time because of her excitement in the little things.  We obviously have to care for her need, as far as pretty constant supervision and help, however she is extremely easy going and willing to go with the flow of our family of 8.
 
2. What is the greatest challenge in raising a child with Down Syndrome?
 
I think our challenges will vary greatly depending on her stage of life.  Honestly, the greatest challenge right now is the sheer physical-ness of her care.  She really cannot be unsupervised, and every meal is one of trying new foods, self-feeding, etc.  Even teaching her to walk from Point A to Point B can be taxing. Potty training can take up to a year. I am constantly aware of her presence and her needs, and I think that detracts from my relationship with my other children at times.  However, I think as she grows older there will be different challenges of finding the appropriate education, how she will interact with society as an adult and in what role, etc.  
 
I think the greatest challenge is knowing how much to expect from our daughter.  Is it too much to ask her to brush her own teeth, put on her own clothing, eat by herself, etc… Evaluating her capabilities is difficult when dealing with a child with Down syndrome, especially when adopted internationally because of the communication barrier.  The easy answer for greatest challenge is of course communication, but expectations is one that I deal with on a regular basis as far as knowing how to challenge her and want her to learn and grow.
 
 
3. What does your family have the privilege of experiencing through this child, that you all wouldn't otherwise have?
 
My daughter has taught us about joy, pure joy.  She is an open door to the gospel, and constantly draws me back to our Father in Heaven.  She is a gift, a good and perfect gift, given to us to show us the true depth of our Father's love for us.  She has shown me how to love well and fiercely, and I wouldn't change her for the world.
 
We have already had so many wonderful experiences in our short 4 months home that we would never have been part of had we not adopted Showy.  We have been able to share with churches, families, friends, and even friends of friends about our experiences and our daughter.  We have joined several groups for families who have Down syndrome, and we are connecting with families we have never met.  We are stopped in public by people constantly asking our story and wanting to know more about adoption and Down syndrome.  Showy meets new friends for us all the time!
 
 
4. What therapies or medical attention is generally required for a child with DS?
 
It varies greatly.  When we came home, we did physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy privately.  Now she receives the PT and OT in schools, and we only do private speech therapy.  Some parents only do the therapies they receive in school.  My daughter did not have heart or hearing issues, but some children with Down Syndrome do.  
 
This varies based on the severity and specifics, but many children with Down syndrome have vision, thyroid, and heart problems.  Our daughter doesn’t have vision or heart issues, but her thyroid may need some attention in the future.  She also will likely participate in therapies provided by the school system including Speech, Occupational, and Physical Therapy just to help her learn with a little more attention.
 
 
5. How have your other children been affected by this adoption? How do you suspect they will be affected in the future (long-term living arrangements, etc.)?
 
My deepest fear when walking through the adoption process was what this meant for my children.  It kept me up nights, sometimes all night.  It brought my idols and my sin to the surface, and I had to release my children back to God, knowing He is their only perfect parent, and he cares for them and loves them with a wisdom that I do not possess.  And now that she has been in our family for two years, I cannot imagine our family life without her.  My three children fight over who gets to play with her; their love and affection for her has been unwavering.  It has been the most beautiful part of our journey to watch them love her so unconditionally, so well.  There has never been a hesitation on their parts, not one doubt, not one flash of resentment or anger, and her presence has asked much of them.  I don't know what the future holds for my children, but I no longer lay awake at night wondering whether or not this adoption will damage my children or our relationship with them.  
 
My other children have been changed for the better…for good.
Not only has their new sister changed their hearts and brought more love than we know what to do, but at least one of our biological children plans to adopt.  She also will likely take care of Showy if she happens to need assistance and we aren’t around or able to help.  Our children love adoption now. Our children love others with Down syndrome now.  The joy in our home is contagious. 
 
6. Please add any information you think is important about adopting a child with DS, as well as any additional personal feelings or advice you have for prospective families.
 
There are many challenges, but many greater joys!
 
I would absolutely love to speak to anyone who has any questions or concerns about an adoption with a child with Down syndrome.  I can personally tell you that our life has never been more full.  I see the joy of the Lord in our daughter and can’t imagine life without her.  We already had 5 children in our home, and adding her to the mix has been such a blessing.  Everyone seems so united in our love for her and for adoption.  Please feel free to reach out and let me know if you need anything.  If you live anywhere close to Central Alabama, let me know and I would be happy to let you meet our sweet little one!
 
"Happy"
 
 
"Showy"
 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

It's Almost Time to Meet Fu Yi!

It's hard to believe but she will be here in 2 weeks! We are gearing up for her arrival in so many ways. There are clothes and other essentials to shop for, meals to plan (that may suit her taste), events and meetings to coordinate, reports to process, children to talk with, and lots of praying to do. We are excited, nervous and hopeful all at the same time. We are opening our schedule and wanting to just be available for her. We've rejected expectations and are open-minded and open-hearted, ready for whatever she brings.

We've planned several opportunities for you to meet Fu Yi. These are group settings, very casual, no commitment. This is a chance for families to discern if she could be their daughter, but it's also a chance to enjoy her company and love on her while she's here (even if adoption is not on your heart).

Sunday, July 24th, 1:00-5:00 - Open House at friends' home in Tchefuncta Club Estates. (Translator present)

Saturday, July 30th, 2:30-4:30 - Birthday party at Coquille Splash Pad. Her first birthday celebration ever... We'll celebrate the first 6 years of her life! Please bring about $10 per family, in lieu of a gift. These funds will go toward her adoption grant.

Saturday, August 6th, 9:00AM-noon - Brunch Open House at the Loman Home in Madisonville. (Translator present)

There will also be days during the week when we will spontaneously plan to play at the park or other location. I will post these play dates on our FB page so you can join us when you're able.

We had planned to host a pancake breakfast fundraiser on July 23rd but for various reasons, have decided to cancel. We feel it's in Fu Yi's best interest that we're not focused on planning and putting on an event while she's here. We are currently selling raffle tickets for an overnight stay at Southern Hotel in Covington and a $100 gift card to Ox Lot 9 restaurant. The winning raffle ticket will be drawn on July 23rd. This will be the last fundraiser for her adoption grant, along with the funds we are requesting in lieu of a birthday gift.

While these group gatherings will be meaningful, we are also available for one-on-one time, as well. If you are praying about the possibility of adopting Fu Yi, we would love for you and your family to hang out at our home, separate from the group times, and privately if you so choose. We would love to come to your home as well, if you prefer having her in your own environment. One of us can bring Fu Yi so our entire tribe isn't distracting.

We are also open to bringing her to worship at your church if you feel there's an opportunity there. We can help educate and bring awareness or simply let her mingle with your congregation, whatever you and your leadership feel God desires. If you think of other interactions that could lead to an adoptive family stepping forward, please bring that to our attention!

It's possible that God will call a non-local family to adopt Fu Yi. If you do not live in our area and are feeling called to explore further, please consider visiting during her time here. If travel funds are not something you have, let's chat. We would love to think of ways to help fund your trip here. We don't want distance to be a hindrance in something that God could be calling your family to. This is too important, and we will help you get it worked out!

While we plan these gatherings now, we ask you to be patient if at any moment we decide to cancel. Fu Yi's heart and behavior will dictate all things. It's important that while she's here she feels safe and loved and that all her needs are met. If we feel she needs to be nurtured quietly at home, we will let everyone know as soon as possible. While we don't know what to expect, we do feel hopeful about these opportunities for you to meet her. Certainly we will have to address some trauma along the way, but we are anticipating plenty of joy and excitement from her as she meets new people. We are grateful for your patience as we enter these unchartered waters!

The latest snippet of information we've received on Fu Yi is that she is "tiny and oh-so-precious!" This wasn't really news but it makes me giddy hearing anything about this sweetie. We are looking forward to seeing and meeting so many of you over the coming weeks. Please contact us with questions or if you need help coordinating a visit with Fu Yi. Our home is open and our schedule is flexible, in order that Fu Yi's forever family can spend time with her and realize she is their daughter!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

An Answer to Hard Questions

Hard questions are being asked. Good questions. Meaningful questions. Well-intentioned questions. We've actually asked them, as well. These questions were on our hearts before beginning the process to host an orphan. I believe one in particular deserves some extra attention. You've asked the question too, just maybe not out loud. Perhaps this question prompts you to doubt what we are doing. I'm thankful that our closest friends and church family have asked it directly. It absolutely needs to be asked and if we aren't considering it, we have done a disservice to many. This question needs to be answered with truth. I will attempt to do that now.

Is hosting Fu Yi for one month really in her best interest? We are pulling her out of her comfort zone. As horrendous as her circumstances may be, they are familiar to her and these children cling to anything that feels familiar. She will experience atrocious jet lag and severe confusion. Certainly a 5 year old child who has Down Syndrome and lives in an orphanage can not comprehend the explanation that she's "going to camp in America." She will be met at the airport by a couple who looks nothing like her, a couple who doesn't even speak her language. It is our understanding that her nannies may tell her to call us "Momma and Papa." Exhausted, confused, and scared, she will be told to come with us. And if this trauma isn't enough for her already battered soul...

We will whisk her away to what seems like paradise. Our expensive car, a house she never dreamed could be so big, all her needs immediately met. She will feel love like never before. She'll have so many people doting over her and making sure she is always comfortable. She will have her own bed, be celebrated, entertained, read to, played with, hugged, held, fed, and loved like a daughter.

4 weeks passes and this couple who has shown her the world is driving her back to the airport. Once again, she stands confused, perhaps feeling abandoned once more. How can her little mind possibly understand why we haven't kept her? Why would this family, who seemed to love her so much, now send her back? Back to the muck, back to the hell of living as an orphan.

This is going to wreck her, on so many levels. And I haven't mentioned how it will wreck us. It's going to be painful from all perspectives. So, that question nags again... Is this really what's best for a child who has already experienced unthinkable tragedy and trauma? Clearly, we have considered the ramifications of hosting this child. We asked the important question, the same one you've asked. We've prayed over it and ache just thinking about her fragile little heart.

Yes. Yes, this is what's best for Fu Yi. It's what's best for our family. It's what's best for every person in this community who has the privilege of meeting her. And it's best for the Kingdom of God.

Without this opportunity, Fu Yi may never know what it feels like to be loved. Can one month of unconditional love have a lifetime effect? We believe so. There are countless studies that show the positive and lasting effects of being loved, even for 2 weeks. "Being loved" includes tender touch, eye contact, meeting of needs, etc. We have personally witnessed firsthand, 2 of our own children make exponential progress within 2 weeks, after leaving an orphanage for our loving arms. It's tremendous to witness.

Fu Yi sits in an institution, eligible for adoption but with no one pursuing her. This program allows us to advocate on her behalf. We will work hard to find a family willing to adopt her. Her chances of being adopted increase dramatically as a result of being in the hosting program. If she is adopted, the residual trauma doesn't immediately disappear but it does begin to dissipate more and more over time. Being adopted into a loving family has miraculous implications on the progress of these children. This is true for physical, psychological, and cognitive developmental issues. The love of a family truly changes lives. Having Fu Yi placed in a family (God willing) will not erase what's been done but will allow for major healing.

Think about the possible implications for our friends and this village as a whole. Fu Yi represents every orphan around the globe. She is a real face, a real child to hold and hug. She is only one orphan but will give face to so many who have no voice, no connection to the outside world. Our prayer is that this community may be changed forever by her visit. We believe hearts may never be the same after meeting and caring for this child. She will bring awareness and education for those who may never otherwise be aware of the harsh reality around the globe. We know God will use this experience to change the hearts of everyone who comes in contact with her.

What about our family? Is it fair to set our kids' hearts up for breaking? I think back on so many journeys where we have exposed them to difficult reality, in order that they too may grow closer to Jesus. I look back at both of our adoptions, for example. I remember being genuinely concerned about how the adoption may effect our kids. The concern is valid but hindsight is so much richer. Yes, our children have been changed. They now argue over who will adopt first, or who will get to care for their younger sister and brother. They pray about missions and have an understanding of orphan care that most adults do not. I also think back on the time we hosted 3 little girls from Uganda, for 3 days. When they left, we all grieved. I remember Anna Grace sobbing because she couldn't understand why they couldn't be her sisters. We had many talks that we would never otherwise have had. Talks about how they are already our sisters, and what it means to be connected to other Christians around the world. Talks about what these children experience in their every day lives. Talks about how they want to be missionaries for God's Kingdom because of what they've seen and experienced. Yes, they've been hurt, there has been pain, and sometimes confusion. But God has always answered with His faithful healing and refining. Yes, they've been changed and we expect they'll be changed by this as well. Praise God! May we never shelter our children in order that we may "protect" them from truth. When we think we're doing something wise, we may actually be preventing them from truly understanding who our God is.

Is this situation ideal for Fu Yi? No. But while asking this hard question, we must consider another. Is it ideal that this child was abandoned right before her first birthday? Is it ideal that she sits in an orphanage with no one fighting on her behalf? Absolutely not. Adoption and orphan care is never plan A. In a perfect world, devoid the fall, these children would be loved by their biological fathers. But sin has prevailed in many of their lives and as believers in a loving God, we must be His hands and feet in working out His plan of redemption for these victims.

There's one answer to your question that outweighs every other answer I've given above.

As followers of Christ, it is our life's mission to know Christ fully and to make Him known to every  soul in every nation. " Therefore go and make disciples of all nations..."(Matthew 28:18-20) We believe that God uses every means in order that we would fulfill His great commission. We know that God will use this hosting opportunity to work in Fu Yi's life. She will hear the gospel while she is here. We will remind her of it often. This will be, by far, the most important thing she receives while she is here. While we absolutely want to find a family to adopt her, our ultimate goal for Fu Yi is that she comes to love Christ. He is her saving grace. He is her key to salvation. If our goal as Christians is to make Him known, then this is exactly what we must do for Fu Yi. By hosting Fu Yi, we feel we are being obedient in Jesus' final call to make disciples of all nations. It's messy and it's painful. Hearts will be broken. But we want... God wants redemption for Fu Yi. We must remember what Jesus experienced in order to redeem souls.

I was an orphan. I was lost, separated from my father, scrounging on the floor of an orphanage, awaiting hell. I was comfortable in my misery. I didn't know I needed to be rescued. But God knew. And He knew it would cost everything in order to rescue me from that orphanage. And He loved me enough to do just that. He gave everything. He gave His dignity, His security and comfort, His spot on a heavenly throne, His life. He went to hell where He was completely separated from His own Father. He literally experienced what it means to be an orphan so that we could be adopted as sons into our Father's forever family, His eternal Kingdom! Did it hurt? You bet it did. Infinitely more than you could ever imagine. Was salvation of souls worth it? He promises it was. I pray that you see the gospel in our story. I pray that you see glory through the darkness.

We have to tread through the muck, and drag Fu Yi with us, in order to enter the other side. But her soul is at stake and it's worth the fight. We can't risk the possibility that she may never hear truthful, good news. Following Christ and being a part of fulfilling His will is difficult work. If we want to be like Jesus, if we want to be a picture of the gospel, we must be willing to carry our cross, even go to hell in order for souls to be redeemed. It's all His work but we are His vessels and we gladly go where He calls us in order to find even one lost soul. "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?" (Luke 15:4) Fu Yi's soul is too important to her Shepherd. We must be willing to face the pain, go wherever He leads, and do whatever is necessary, in order that she be found.



This subject has been discussed among friends who have hosted in the past. Here are some of their thoughts on the matter.

"I do worry that I will be inflicting more trauma, but at the same time, they only have 2 years until they age out. It's more traumatic to spend the rest of your life without a family. And I pray it not only helps these boys, but also other older boys who wait."

"This is the first time we've heard of this program and we never considered an older child. Now we will be bringing home 2 amazing children!"

"This child would have died had he not had the hosting opportunity with us. His file was way off, medically speaking and in general. Words typed on a paper cannot ever fully tell a family about a child but we were able to tell everyone about his adorable laughter, the way he was so polite and knew boundaries, the pictures we took to share with potential families were photos that were not staged. They were live action and spoke volumes about his development. No piece of paper could have ever told an interested family how absolutely precious and smart our little guy was! Hosting allows for all this and so much more! Our guy needed medical treatment ASAP (which was discovered by doctors here) and he received that. He now has a mommy and daddy who hold him and tell him his story, how he came to us so we could help him find them, and how we all love him to pieces!"

"This is probably the last shot for some of these kids. It's now or never."

"It's not perfect. It's not our first choice. It's our last choice. But more hard-to-place kids are coming out of the orphanages because of hosting. It's a heartbreaking journey, yes. But it's the last chance in a road of waiting and waiting."

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Waves of Mercy

"The seas have lifted up, O Lord, the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves. Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea- the Lord on high is mighty." (Psalm 93:3-4)

I sat on the edge of our bed last night, as Seamus assembled the toddler bed for Fu Yi. "I'm sad, Seamus. I have hope but my heart hurts," my voice trembled. I felt like bursting in to tears but I knew that would be ridiculous. "This is only one wave, Laura. There will be many more." Sigh.

He was right, this was only one wave. That's a scary thought because the waves in life sometimes feel like more than I can bear. The breaking and crashing of a powerful wave is sometimes enough to tear us down. We know there will be more, so my perspective must be in order. I can let these waves drown me, or I can find a way to float atop.

Exactly one week ago, a lady contacted me. She saw my post on FB and was moved by what she'd read. She and her husband wanted to learn more about Fu Yi and said they were interested in adopting her! Our conversation continued for many days. They asked questions. They requested her medical file from the agency. They prayed. And after a lot of back and forth, I received a message that brought tears to my eyes. "We really believe she may be our daughter, Laura." You can imagine the joy that filled my heart.

Fu Yi has been dealt a crappy hand of cards. She was born with Down Syndrome, abandoned before she turned one year old and was left to fend for herself in an orphanage. The trauma she has experienced in the first few years of her life is overwhelming to consider. I'm not blind to how children are treated in these orphanages, and I've certainly seen how children with Down Syndrome are at an even higher risk for abuse and neglect. It physically hurts to imagine Fu Yi's past and present circumstances. But now! Now I could actually imagine redemption in her life! Could God have seriously revealed His plan for Fu Yi so soon? Of course He could! He is the God who gave up everything to redeem!

Soon after receiving this elating message, I received another. "We've prayerfully discerned that Fu Yi is not our daughter, after all. God has called us to adopt an older child..." My heart sank. I sobbed. I took a deep breath and responded, "I am thankful for your listening to God's will in everything! I give Him praise for that. I am also thankful that you will be pursuing an older child. How wonderful! Please be in prayer for Fu Yi and ask the Lord to direct our steps in advocating. Thank you for being so open and honest. Big hugs!" With a broken heart, I hit send.

The biggest waves in my life manifest themselves through the unknown. I don't know what God's plan is for Fu Yi. That scares me. A lot. It shouldn't. That fear is nothing more than a lack of faith. Has He or has He not promised to work all things out for His glory and for my good (Romans 8:28)? With our eyes fixed on the One who calms the waves, we overcome, even welcome them. We become stronger, we grow closer to our God who has a plan to redeem.

Who am I to question, for one second, how God is working in Fu Yi's life? Do I really believe He doesn't have huge blessings in store for her? I confess. My grieving the loss of this family was essentially saying that God doesn't know best. While God certainly calls us to fight on her behalf, I have zero say in what her destiny will be. He used this recent experience in order that I would repent, turn back to Him and His sovereignty. He so graciously and gently reminded me that His ways are not mine (Isaiah 55:8).

No, I can't control whether or not Fu Yi gets adopted. I can't remove her current circumstances. Yes, God has a plan and I'm not privy to it yet. Here's what we'll do as instruments of God's will and purpose. We will pray boldly, asking God for huge miracles. We will love her with whole hearts, completely vulnerable. We will fight fiercely on her behalf. We will speak truth and we will never be silent. She has no voice but that ends now. The waves will not overcome us. They have no power against a God who owns them. "You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them." (Psalm 89:9) We will embrace HIS waves of love and unending mercy. We will rest knowing that the God who loves orphans infinitely more than we do, will fulfill all things good. "The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation. I am the Lord; in its time I will do this swiftly." (Isaiah 60:22) He is the song for the suffering and at HIS perfect moment, redemption's tune will overwhelm Fu Yi. Of this, I am confident.


You call me out beyond the shore onto the waves! (Great song;)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Life-Changing T-Shirts!

We can hardly wait to love on Fu Yi while she visits us this summer. Showing her the light of Jesus and the love of a family for one month will be monumental in her life. In addition to how we relate directly to her, we pray to also have an impact through advocating on her behalf. One aspect of advocating for Fu Yi includes providing assistance for the future adoptive family. We know that this assistance and support might be the difference between finding her forever family or not. We want to provide families the opportunity to get to know her. We will provide medical care and further information about her health. We will pray for and with this family, and we are happy to answer questions as they arise.

Another support we can offer is financial assistance. We do not want the cost of adoption to be an obstacle for anyone willing to welcome this child into their family. We have an account set aside specifically for an adoption grant. Any donations made through our Paypal account (lauraloman@yahoo.com) from now until the end of Fu Yi's visit, will go directly toward this grant. Please feel free to click "donate" on our blog homepage at any time, in order to help fund Fu Yi's adoption expenses. We will also be hosting a few fundraisers over the coming months, in order to fund the grant. We will keep you posted on the grant balance as we move forward.

Our first fundraiser is beginning now and we'd love your help! We've had t-shirts designed and want you to wear them with us! These shirts are the super soft material and come in adult and youth sizes. The shirts are pictured below. The adult shirt color is not exactly the same as the youth shirt color (see below). The cost is $20 per shirt (please add $2 for 2XL and 3XL), plus $4 per order if you would like them shipped. If you don't want your order shipped, you can pick them up in Madisonville (we will email you with our address). Wear them for our summer events with Fu Yi, or give them as gifts! Everyone loves super soft tees and the cause is so worthwhile!

To order t-shirts, please send payment ($20 per shirt plus $4 shipping if applicable; *Please add $2 for 2XL and 3XL shirts) through Paypal with the quantity and sizes (YS-YL, AXS-A3XL) written in the notes section. To access our Paypal account, you can click on "donate" on this blog homepage or simply use our email address (lauraloman@yahoo.com). We will take preorders until June 1st, and shirts should arrive in mid to late June. This will allow everyone to get their shirts in time for Fu Yi's arrival!

Thank you very much for all the love and support we have already received through this hosting process. Fu Yi is already one loved little girl, that's for sure. She really hasn't been given a chance in the first 5 years of her life but together we will be her voice! Your prayers have been heard on her behalf. God DOES place the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6) and will work mightily in Fu Yi's life. Let's continue fighting for her by beefin' up this adoption grant. Get busy ordering some shirts!

Youth
Adult
 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Host to Advocate

Well friends, we are embarking on a new adventure. Our hearts remain in China, being burdened for the lost and particularly the orphan. We are so humbled to do God's work when He calls. Once again, He's done just that. He has led us to a ministry that gives us the opportunity to love the least of these and fight for the most vulnerable among us. We have been so eager to share this exciting news with you and pray that you will walk alongside us on this hard and beautiful road.

This summer, our family will host an orphaned child from China. This child is eligible for adoption but no one pursues her, so she waits in a state run institution. She will have the opportunity to live with us for one month, know the love of a family and be introduced to the gospel of Jesus Christ. While she is here, we will fiercely advocate on her behalf. We will do all that God wills in order that her forever family be found. We will also work to raise money for a grant that can be given to a family willing to adopt her. We know how expensive international adoption is and we don't want that to be an obstacle for a family ready to love this child. Stay tuned for information on a FUNdraiser we are planning!

I know you're ready to meet this sweetie! Her name is "Fu Yi" and she is an adorable 5 year old who has Down's Syndrome. Her medical information indicates that she's very healthy. She is described as shy and timid. She looks scared and skeptical in all of her pictures but we know the amazing impact of loving a child, even if only for a few weeks. We are beyond excited to watch her joy emerge! We have plenty more to share with interested families. And we'll have SO much more to share once she's here.

Wondering how you can help? The options are almost endless and we will definitely keep you informed about her needs. For now, we are asking for prayer. Please pray that Fu Yi's heart will be well-prepared for her visit here. Pray that God would work mightily on her behalf, both in China and during her visit here. Pray that the Holy Spirit would soften and awaken hearts of the family who He has willed to adopt her. If you have the gift of prayer, perhaps you can commit to praying for her daily. We know firsthand how powerful prayer is and it's certainly where God wants us to begin.

We will begin advocating for her in various ways, before she even arrives. You'll see many FB posts and blog entries, as we search for her forever family. We will be planning our fundraising event for her adoption grant. We will be busy with paperwork and training, as required by the agency in charge. Before she arrives, we'll have fun shopping for girly clothes, toiletries, traveling games and anything else we can think of to spoil her (she comes with nothing, only the clothes she is wearing). When she arrives, we will have plenty of opportunities for you to meet her. We love that you can be a part of loving on her, even if you aren't the family that God calls to adopt her! If, at any point, you think God may be calling you to inquire about her, please do. Our home will be open and we welcome anyone to spend time at our house while she's here. Let us pray with you, spend more time with her, ask us a hundred questions, whatever you think is in order. Just let us know how we can help.

We are thrilled about this opportunity that God has so graciously laid upon us. We know He provides when He calls. I can barely wait to see how He shows up and works in all of this. All glory be to God and His good will to Fu Yi and each of you! (Romans 8:28)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Today is Sweet

Samuel has been home for almost 5 months. I have so much to share yet the words don't easily flow. My review of Samuel's progress and God's goodness will never be sufficient in giving God the praise He is due. I think that's part of the reason I haven't written a post lately. It's hard to put in to words how mightily God has worked in our lives, in the lives of our littles. Still, God calls me to sing His praises from the rooftops and I gladly give it my best shot.

Samuel has made incredible strides. When we were in China, he was barely walking. He would take a fumbling step or two at a time. He now runs through the house yelling for his big sister, "Nei Nei!" (That would be Mei Mei... Oh and yes, she sings, "watch me whip, whip, watch me Mei Mei." That girl is something else). Samuel's weight and height are completely on track for a child his age. He's saying about 15 words and clearly understands everything we tell him. He has the most beautiful belly laugh of anyone I've ever known. I'm convinced those baby belly laughs will be the sound that echoes through heaven. He has formed a genuine attachment to all 6 of us and has a very healthy balance of affection and fear towards others. When he first came home, he was terrified of anyone and everyone, except for our immediate family. He shuttered if someone said "no" and was clearly traumatized by previous events in his life. This sweet boy is now healthy, confident and secure. Truly miraculous. Only God can transform a life like this. From ashes to beauty, that's God's specialty.

And his "special need"... y'all. This kid is amazing. He is incredibly resourceful with his little hand, as we call it. He has learned to pick everything up with it so that he is able to manipulate with his fingers on his right hand. He does whatever the other kids are doing, with no problem. We encourage him to try everything before we help him. "I can't" is not allowed in our house and we will expect the same from Samuel. The biggest tragedy resulting from his special need is the fact that he was abandoned because of it. While this need seems insignificant to us, his birthparents probably felt that he needed serious medical intervention. And of course, the people of China have very little access to any sort of medical resources. I have a painful desire, literally a physical ache, to share with his birthparents how very well he's doing. Apart from the tragedy of abandonment, we consider his special need a gift. We know that in ALL things, God works for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). I am sure that God has huge plans for Samuel. Plans for pain, no doubt. But in the end, pain that leads to faith. Plans to prosper. (Jeremiah 29:11) Despite what our culture tells us, we know it's a privilege to have a thorn in our side (2 Cor. 12:7-10) because Jesus uses that to bring us closer to Him. My prayer for Samuel is not that God would take away the pain, the questions, the physical limitations, or the teasing from other kids (which we already endure). My prayer is that He would use this thorn to draw Samuel into a greater need for Christ. "Head winds are right for royal sails." ~ RW Emerson

Neat side story while I'm talking about Samuel's little hand... We are at a fall community event, maybe 500 people there. Kids are running around, we're all enjoying the day. A man sees Samuel and we hear him say, "Timmy, come see! His hand is just like yours!" Long story short, we began talking. Their teenage son has amniotic band syndrome and they just happen to spot Samuel. Y'all... this is a RARE special need. Turns out this boy is the baseball pitcher at our local high school. He pitches the ball with his left hand and quickly puts his catching glove on. Amazing, right? So we ran into them again and his mom brought us a goody bag with some very special things. One of the items is a glove that Mizuno fit and made specifically for their son. They wanted Samuel to have this! I am so overwhelmed at how God works through every day situations. Truly another miracle. We couldn't even find another family in the area with this if we tried. But God. God orchestrated our meeting so perfectly. Do you reckon we'll be attending some of his baseball games? We can't wait!

Yes, the Lomans are doing well. We are forever grateful for the support you have offered, for the checking in, and the prayers that you faithfully pour over us. This season of life is extremely hairy but it's what God has blessed us with and we roll with it every day. I am so often asked, "Is your family finished growing?" Oh goodness, that reminds me... a sweet angel contacted me the other day and asked if we'd be growing. She wanted to know because she felt called to help financially, the way she had for our journey to Samuel. Do ya' think I was humbled? Man! Could that be God reminding me that He will always faithfully provide when we are doing His will? I've learned never to guess what our future holds. God's plans are not ours and thankfully, his prevail. I do know one thing. I feel a tad restless. I sense that in my husband too. Restless in the sense that there is too much work to be done for Christ. Too many orphans, too many who don't know Christ, for me to be sitting in cozy suburbia. That being said, I also feel a deep peace in what God has given me for now. He has called me to be a supportive wife, to shepherd our children, to educate them at home. It's clear they are where my focus should be right now. It's not always easy and it's often thankless. But God sees. And He wants me right here. So I wait. Restless but content. I press on, hopefully honoring God all my days. I don't know if our family is complete. He hasn't revealed that to us yet. I don't even know what tomorrow holds. I do know that we are His and I find immeasurable comfort in that. If He leads us to a dirt hut in a volatile land occupied by Christian haters, then we'll go. But today, God has us right here. And today is sweet.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Embracing Power in Weakness

"As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord's word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength." (Psalm 18:30-32)

I'll be honest. I've struggled with what to write about next. We are in the midst of a season where God is working mightily. He called us to some hard and exciting stuff. Samuel has been home for 6 weeks and the range of emotions and recent happenings are plentiful. I'll give a quick update on how everyone's doing but I really want to focus on how God is changing me, what He is doing through our lives and in my heart.

We are finding our new "normal" and beginning to adjust to what life with Samuel looks like. Throwing a 15 month old in to the mix has not been easy but our little guy and our entire family are making incredible strides. Sleep has been hit and miss, down time is rare, and the energy level in our home is through the roof. I spend most of my time just laughing at the chaos. I'm afraid I may cry if I stop laughing. Samuel has bonded with us beautifully. We are completely comfortable with having him around other people but it will be a little longer before we let anyone else hold, change, feed, or bathe him. For now, you'll have to take my word for it that those cheeks are the. most. kissable. We are waiting for some blood work to come back but are pretty sure he's completely healthy. We believe he's extremely bright and we know he's incredibly sensitive.

I still can't believe he's home. It's all a whirlwind, but sometimes I just stop and look in to those dark, soulful eyes. I wonder what I did to deserve him. Nothing, I remind myself.  I am mystified over a God who would give us such a lofty gift, a God who would make this precious spirit a son... a son to us... a son to Him. Abundant grace. Sometimes there just aren't any words to describe this great privilege we have.

I am overwhelmed by God's goodness. I am amazed at what He has entrusted us with, and even more amazed that because of His strength (Phil. 4:13), we are completely capable. God is reminding me to be keenly aware of the fact that everything we do is because of Him, for Him, and impossible without Him. Yes, we have a lot going on. And it's oftentimes hard. But what a privilege to be shown, and reminded daily, that His power is made perfect in my weakness (2Cor.12:9). This life He's given us... it's rich because with every challenge that presents itself, I am drawn closer to the only One who can handle it.

As I grow in my salvation, it's becoming clear to me how some of my friends have 9 and 10 children. I know... GASP! I'm not saying that's God's plan for our life. These friends are people who rely solely on the power of Christ in their homes. They don't have much money, they don't have all the answers, but God has always come through for them. I learn so much from these sisters.

People tell me, "I don't know how you do it." They say it to you too. They definitely say it to my friends with 9 and 10 kids. It can be about anything, really. For us, they're talking about the adoptions, losing children, having 5 children, homeschooling, working from home while rearing, all of it. Here's the thing. I don't do it. I really, really don't, y'all. My best friends can tell you that I've mastered the art of complaining. That's my flesh. If it were up to me, it would all fall apart. Every piece of it. BUT GOD. He is able, and His grace is sufficient. If we just believe that, if we could just wake up to the reality of His unrelenting love for us, if only we could remember His unwavering faithfulness. It's our own pride that stands between us and real joy. It's our own fear that prevents us from stepping out into the waves. God promises only good things when we step out for Him (not easy things but good things... very different).  

I don't know what your "not me" looks like. I don't know if you're contemplating adoption, considering a new job, moving to Asia to become a missionary, or trying to decide what you'll cook for dinner tonight. I do know one thing. God is able. God is able and He never disappoints. He always provides and He will never forsake you. That doesn't mean He grants your every wish. What it does mean is that if your desire is OF HIM, in conformity to His will, He will grant. He will provide. (Psalm 37:4) This life is but a vapor. Step out, friends. Step out without fear. Whatever that looks like in your life. Start with prayer. Listen for His will, spelled out clearly in scripture. The plan He's calling you to may seem impossible, but the One who is calling you to that impossible task is the One who can and will faithfully provide in it.