Sunday, March 30, 2014

Our Visit to Harmony House

I am finally getting a few minutes to sit and write about our day yesterday. There is so much to share, so much to process. As I write this, we are sitting in the Beijing airport. We thought we had a flight out this morning but apparently, the wrong flight was booked. Long story but here's the short... We are able to get on a flight today at 2:30, traveling to Hohhot, the capital city of Inner Mongolia, Emily's originating city. She was abandoned in Inner Mongolia and the law says our "gotcha day" and adoption paperwork has to occur there. We will meet Emily in our hotel lobby 24 hours from now and will have her forever. FOREVER ours. Unreal.

Before I write anymore, let me say that Brady is fine. We are pretty sure his nose is not broken but his sweet face is very banged up and swollen. We are calling his little incident "The Great Fall" (which happened at The Great Wall). It was scary but once again, God has been faithful in maintaining a clear (but bumpy) path to Emily.

We visited Emily yesterday at Harmony House, where she currently resides. We had to leave her and can't have her for good until Monday morning. Here's how our day went. We eagerly awoke yesterday, ready to go see our girl. "Eagerly" meaning 1:30 am. Y'all. Jet lag is a beast. Our guide and driver picked us up at our hotel at 7:30 am. We are on our way. Only one hour away from our daughter! We could barely sit still. HAULT. Stand still traffic. Apparently, the government shut down all interstates in Beijing because of the smog (yes, we have been wearing our masks for the most part). Can I just tell you a little bit about how they drive in Beijing, without the rage of traffic jams? Holy cow. They make New York City look like a bunch of grandmas. I'm talking constant horn honking, jumping curbs, driving against the flow of traffic, and driving on side walks. No. Kidding. Another car actually hit our rearview mirror while we were driving. No courtesy. Each man for himself. I see glimpses of this in big US cities but nothing like this. Okay, so back to our saga. Government shuts down interstates. Lomans sit in van for over 6 hours! Needless to say, I was a bit testy and just wanting to get to Emily. We did finally arrive, late afternoon, which meant we only had about 2 hours to spend at Harmony House. Nevertheless, we arrived.

Harmony House was pretty nice, speaking in relative terms. There are no homes like ours in China. There are tall, run-down skyscraper-looking buildings with homes inside (similar to apartments). It's all concrete, no yards, rather uninviting. When we entered Harmony House, we were kindly greeted by rambunxious children and gracious nannies. My heart was broken immediately. The conditions here are very sufficient. But the fact remains. These precious children have no families. We played. We hugged. Emily was napping when we arrived so we were a little distracted.

The moment. Everything rests on this moment. Emily woke up and the nanny brings Emily to us. Que in the music and rejoice. Well, not yet. She did not want to come to me. Her lower lip quivered and she cried a little. This was actually a great sign! It means she doesn't trust just anyone. She was a little skeptical and this is very healthy! My girl did warm up after only a few minutes and we spent some amazing time with her. She clenched the lovie we brought her and the photo album of our family that we had previously sent her. She held them close and wanted to stay in my lap for the most part. She eventually went to Seamus. She was fascinated by the hair on his chin and arms. This little girl has a place in our hearts that is hard to express in words. We will forever fight for her. Whatever her need is, we will do our best to meet it. We were in awe of the miracles. Of all the countries, the hundreds of millions of orphans on the earth, and of the hundreds of millions of people in China, God chose Emily for our family. And yesterday, we held her. And tomorrow, she will forever be ours.

The food in Beijing has been phenomenal. I do not like "Chinese" food in the states. Turns out I have a sophisticated pallet... I love the real deal! ;) Oh! We had McDonald's delivered to our room last night. We were all craving a burger and it was almost as good as our McDonald's. ;)

What else about Beijing... The lost. Oh, the lost. It's heart-breaking, sobering, and devastating to see millions of people who don't know Jesus Christ. Christ's image bearers who have been told lies. Our guide in Beijing was a precious lady who we adore. As we parted ways, I had tears in my eyes, praying that Christ would intervene in her life and show her truth. I love her and want to see her in heaven. In the quiet this morning, Seamus expressed an important and eye-opening reality. We are here to get Emily but God has called us to China for an even bigger purpose. We are burdened. Our hearts ache for this population, these beautiful people who have been incredibly misled. I think about the lost in our own country and I've always considered our situation just as devastating... the many non-believers in my own community, or the many who think they are believers but really rely on their good works or some other redemption besides the blood of Christ. But my perspective has changed a bit. The Bible says that no one has an excuse not to believe because creation itself speaks about who God is. Furthermore (in my opinion, not quoting scripture), we have churches all over the place in America and Christians speaking the gospel is pretty commonplace. We proclaimed the gospel boldly to our guide and she was surprised by truth and asked so many questions. No one has ever given her truth before! If only this population could hear it, ask questions, know there's more to life than the superstitions and gods who ultimately fail them. Please, brothers and sisters in Christ, join us in reaching out to these populations! The alternative for them is hell. Maybe this should be the moment where I apologize for my preachy rant but y'all. This adoption, this trip, the exposure to reality outside of our bubble has wrecked us. And I am so thankful for that! I pray that you too are wrecked. That God would convict your hearts to look outside your comfortable life and realize the urgency of bringing the gospel to Asia, Africa, and to those in our own community.



Our sweet guide, Heidi

Potty Time!



Bye Mama, Baba, and Gege! See you Monday morning!

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Great Wall of China

I am tired. My thoughts are jumbled. Please don't expect anything exceptional or inspirational. :) Our hotel room is very comfortable and we have everything we need. Our bodies have not adjusted to the time difference. It is 4:30pm on Friday right now in Beijing. We just got back to our hotel room and Seamus and Brady are conked out. Our day was extremely adventurous and we are glad to be in our room.

We woke up this morning to a breakfast buffet downstairs. The spread is elaborate. There are foods covering several tables. Omelets and Belgian waffles? Not so much. How 'bout "salted fish" for breakfast? The choices were amusing to say the least but we were happy to see some traditional American style options as well. I ate bacon, corn on the cob, fried rice, and a chocolate muffin with a cup of coffee.

Our sweet guide, Heidi, met us in the lobby after breakfast and we drove to The Great Wall of China. It was truly the most magnificent man-made thing I've ever seen. We took the sky cable up and walked at some length, down the wall, and through several watch towers. On the way down, Brady took a horrifying spill. He literally fell face first and did a front flip on the stone. It's very steep and he couldn't stop his force. He hit his head, nose, mouth, knees, hands, you name it. We were pretty sure his nose was broken and we still think it may be. We took him to a local clinic. There are few words that can describe that experience. The crowd. The chaos. The confusion. The babies. It was awful. I shed tears and thanked my God for the medical care we have at home. The doctor who saw Brady barely looked at him and suggested we go to a hospital for an MRI and an x-ray of his nose. Um, no thanks. We are keeping ice and a close eye on him. I don't believe he has a concussion and if he broke his nose, I'm not letting anyone here touch it. Brady was so upset that this would somehow effect getting Emily. Sweet boy cried at the thought of that. We assured him nothing would prevent that. I think he's going to be fine. Oh yeah, he knocked a permanent tooth square out of his mouth at home, the day before we left, and has to have a root canal when we return. It's been quite a week for my little man.

We have been eating some phenomenal Chinese food. In the states I never like to eat Chinese. That's because I was holding out for the real stuff. Y'all. Yum!

Tomorrow is a huge day for us. We will be meeting our guide downstairs at 7:30am where we will then drive to Harmony House to spend the day with our Emily Hope and the others at her orphanage. We really can't believe this is happening... TOMORROW! We will be visiting her for the day but can not take her with us when we leave. Monday morning will be our official "gotcha day". I'm hoping to blog after our big day tomorrow but there's no telling when we'll get back to the hotel or how exhausted and emotional we may be. I promise to post pictures and updates when I can.

Here are some pictures from today...
View from our Hotel Room in Beijing
Salted Fish for breakfast anyone?

Wall Watch Tower

Our guide, Heidi

Traditional Chinese Cuisine... Delish!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

We've Made it to Beijing!

We made it to Beijing! It was a long haul but we are finally here.

The long flight was actually nice. It was pretty empty and we each had our own row of 3 seats! So we sprawled out, watched movies, and slept comfortably.
We thought we’d be flying east from D.C. but it turns out we traveled north through Canada, crossed the arctic ocean, and passed over Russia to get here. We basically went “over” the globe to get here. Because of this path, it has been sunny since we left our house Wednesday morning. We got to Beijing around 3:30pm (2:30am CST). We actually traveled with the sun so we basically skipped a night. Our bodies are very confused by the fact that it’s been daylight for about 24 hours.
Our very sweet guide, Heidi, met us at the airport and drove us to get some bottled water before heading to our hotel. We are staying at the Inner Mongolia Grand in Beijing and it is very nice. Brady's a little disappointed that there aren't any English t.v. channels. :) Heidi brought us a nice Chinese dinner to eat in our room and it was surprisingly delicious!
Tomorrow, we will be conquering The Great Wall of China! Our guide, Heidi, will be picking us up from our hotel at 9am and giving us the grand tour. I hear it’s magnificent and can’t wait to actually be there.
Thank you for your prayers for safety. Everything has been seamless so far, aside from exhaustion.
My two guys are conked out on the bed, which is where I want to be. So, I'll sign out for now. Here are a few pictures from our day of travel.

Waiting for Take Off

The Pollution is Terrible!
Our first authentic taste of China. So good!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Dear Friends,

It is with great anticipation and excitement that we write this letter to you. As you know, we will be traveling to China tomorrow to finalize our adoption and bring home our daughter, Emily Hope! We are deep in the trenches of preparing for her arrival. We feel like a big part of that preparation is to prepare YOU for her arrival as well. There are so many unknowns and we love all your excitement and questions about her homecoming. We feel it will be beneficial to Emily if we can be open about our expectations of friends and family upon her arrival.
We have gone through extensive training with medical doctors, psychologists, therapists, and social workers. We have learned what we can expect from adopting an orphaned child, as well as how to cope with expected behaviors. You have been hearing so many great things about Emily but we don’t often discuss the ugly realities of what she has been through. In the first 2 years of her life, she has experienced great trauma. She has experienced abandonment, medical issues, and no family to bond with, just to name a few. Being institutionalized has a major impact on a child’s development. We expect our daughter to be delayed in many areas.
One area that will need our immediate attention will be attachment. She has never learned to have a trusting bond with a mother and father and she will have to learn this attachment, just as a newborn does. Our parenting of an adoptive child will look completely different from the way we have raised our first 3 children. This may change after a year or so but it is essential that we make sure she has learned proper attachment before we altar any of our parenting. What will this look like? In order to create a healthy attachment, Seamus and I must be the primary caregivers for several months. Only we can feed her, give her a bottle, change her diaper, and provide her basic needs. Emily will likely sleep with us at first (we NEVER let our biological kids do this). She will basically call the shots. If she wants something, we’ll give it to her, in order to build trust and an environment where she knows she can rely on us. Discipline will be taught later, just as it would with a newborn. A good way to view this is to think of her as an infant. Because she never had the experience that a properly cared for newborn does, we will have to train her as though she is a newborn. Again, any rules that we have had with our bio kids are basically thrown out the door. They had the opportunity to connect with us from birth, and Emily has to start from the beginning.
Laura will be home with Emily for an extended period of time, and will rarely leave the house with her for several weeks. As eager as we know you are to meet her, we can’t have visitors in the home for a while. If you need to come over briefly, we certainly don’t mind. You are welcome to tell Emily hi. We just ask that you please don’t make physical contact with her or spend more than a few minutes with us. We ask that if you have something to give her, you give it to us first, and we will pass it on to her. We ask that no one hold her until we feel that attachment bond has been established. I am planning to carry her in a wrap so that when we do go out, people won’t be tempted to hold her. We are excited that so many friends are already talking about play dates with our sweet girl. Please know that we absolutely want this to happen, as soon as we are able.
There are numerous ways you can help, upon our return. Our older kids would love some play time, or maybe you could help with an errand or a meal. I promise to be open about what we need when we return. So many of you have already offered such wonderful care and we really appreciate that!
The time frame on all this will greatly depend on Emily’s progress. We will continue to communicate with you, as progress is made and new phases can be introduced. If this sounds extreme to you, it did to us as well before we were completely educated on the needs of an internationally adopted child. I realize we are probably going to upset someone but our daughter’s well-being is of utmost importance to us right now. We can’t expect you to understand why we are implementing this “cocoon” phase but we are grateful if you can just love us through it. Please fire away with any questions you have. We are happy to answer anything! And please, no question is a dumb one. Believe me, we’ve asked them all of the professionals. Asking about the unknowns will ultimately benefit Emily and your relationship with her. Our social worker, Logan Gibbons, has also offered to answer any questions from our friends and family. We would be happy to share her contact information if you request it. She is a professional who is experienced in this area, and has a very good understanding of the protocol we are implementing.
We long for the day Emily can forge meaningful relationships with our friends, when she will be running around with your children and getting big hugs from each of you! Thank you for your understanding until we are comfortable with the hugs and other social interaction. We are grateful for the love so many of you have poured out on us and we are comforted knowing that you will walk alongside us when Emily comes home!
With love in Christ,
Laura and Seamus

Monday, March 17, 2014

Stay in Touch

If you need to get in touch with us during our trip to China, here are the best ways to do so...

Email. Seamus and I will both be checking our email accounts daily while we are there.

Viber. This is a free app that you can download on your phone. It allows you to text and call others who have the Viber app, all for free! Seamus and I both have this app on our phones.

Facebook. I'll be on Facebook at least once a day and you can message me that way if it's not an emergency.

Skype. We plan to Skype daily with our younger kiddos back home. We'll be Skyping from my account so if you're looking for us, we're at LauraLoman1. Or you can search for me by email address (

If there is an emergency or you need us immediately, please feel free to text or call us as you normally would. It will cost us $1.99 per minute to talk on our regular line. To receive a text from you, we will only be charged 5 cents. It costs 50 cents per outgoing text, however. If there is an emergency, try texting us and we can call you through Viber at that point. Frankly, if there's an emergency, we'll gladly pay whatever fees for you to be able to contact us, so do whatever you need to do to get us! ;-) By the way, there is no charge for you to text or call us because you are still calling a local number.

Keep in mind that we will be 13 hours ahead of CST. ;) Hope to hear from y'all while we're abroad!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Preview of our Trip to China

We are leaving for China in 11 DAYS!!! Want a peak in to what we'll be doing when we get there?

As you know, we fly out of New Orleans on March 26th. We will go to Beijing first. We will spend one day touring The Great Wall. We will spend the next day at Emily's foster orphanage. Yes, we will be spending an entire day with her, in her own environment, even before our official "gotcha day". It's a little unheard of and we are beyond privileged to have this opportunity. The next day we fly to Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia, which is the province where she came from. "Gotcha day" will be the 31st. At that point, we never have to separate from her again. That week we will be working on her passport and some sightseeing in her province. That Thursday, we will visit her original orphanage, see where she was abandoned, and acquire any information we can. After several days there, we will all fly down to Guangzhou, where the American Embassy is. We will have several days to tour there while necessary paperwork is making it's way through the system before we leave. On the last day, we'll travel to Hong Kong and stay overnight, where our flight will leave the next morning. Soooooo.... New Orleans to Beijing to Langfang to Hohhot to Guangzhou to Hong Kong to New Orleans. Got it? Yeah, me neither.

It's a lot to digest at one time. My goal is to post daily on our Facebook page as well as on my blog. You'll likely see more if you're following us on FB. Any time I post on my blog, I'll link it on FB. I'll probably throw some pictures and one liner updates on FB pretty frequently. I know we will be completely exhausted but I'm hoping to throw some words together each night, so that you at least know where we were that day and what our plan is for the next day. :-)

I can't believe this is happening.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

It's Geaux Time!

Flights are booked! All of the events over the past year have led up to this one moment. The moment we board that plane.

We received TA (travel approval) and our CA (consulate appointment) this morning. I knew why our social worker was calling. I saw her number on my phone and my stomach dropped. It's the moment every international adoptive parent waits for. There are a lot of calls that we wait for. A lot of them are good. Some aren't so good. But the call where we find out we have TA is THE call. The emotion felt when we hear "TA" trumps all other. It's the moment I literally felt God giving me a high five. VICTORY!

Victory. That's what this is. God vividly revealed to us that adoption is his number one priority. He adopted us. He calls us to live a life that points to who He is and what He does. He adopts. So we adopt. He called us to live out what He has done. This past year... the events, emotion, heartache and joy have all lead to the victory that He promised us from the beginning of our journey. He called us. He carried us. And He is delivering us. Delivering us half way around the world to be united with the daughter who was predestined to be our child and more importantly HIS child. That, my friends, is victory.

We will board a plane on Wednesday, March 26th. Our "gotcha day" will be Monday, March 31st. This is the day that our baby girl is put in our arms. From this day on, she is ours. Forever. Never labeled "orphan" again. We will return home on April 11th. There's a lot that will happen between March 26th and April 11th. We look forward to letting you walk with us while we are there, through my blog, and our FB page.

So here we are. All of the events over the past year have led up to this one moment. We will board that plane on March 26th and at that moment, it all comes to a head. The prayers and conversations we had when considering this ministry. Finding my long lost "hope" rock. Our trip to Birmingham. The lifelong friendships we have forged. Doughnut Day. Seeing her picture for the first time. Praying that her medical reports weren't accurate, that maybe she didn't really have leukemia or severe cerebral palsy, but knowing she was ours regardless. Learning that she was born with a congenital heart defect, then learning it is probably healed. The baby shower. The call to worship at church. Our event in November and the privilege of sharing the gospel that night. Assembling her nursery. Creating a t-shirt to honor her. The opportunities to minister to others and encourage them to pursue adoption and orphan care. The care packages. The tears. The excitement. All of it comes to a head today and again the moment we board that plane.

We serve a mighty God, y'all. He has done all this. He has brought us this far. He has blessed us beyond measure, and now has secured victory once again with the news that we are officially waiting to travel.

As we say in Louisiana... It's Geaux Time!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Article 5 in the bag!

"Good morning... with some wonderful news! Your article 5 was picked up today and overnighted to the CCCWA!" This is the text I received from our social worker this morning.

This means Emily's visa is complete and has been sent to the adoption department in China. We now wait for TA (travel approval). The expected wait for TA is about 2 weeks but these have been coming in under a week lately. Once we receive TA, we schedule our consulate appointment and book our flights!

Best case scenario... We fly out on March 19th, "gotcha day" on March 24th, consulate appointment March 31st, fly home on April 1st.

Likely scenario... We fly out on March 26th, gotcha March 31st, consulate appointment April 7th, fly home April 8th.

Worst case scenario... Fly out April 2nd, gotcha April 7th, consulate appointment April 14th, fly home April 15th.

Hoping to announce soon that we have TRAVEL APPROVAL!!!!!!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Expectations... Hope in Brokenness

We will be traveling soon. We don't have exact dates quite yet but we know we're close. It's important to reflect on what we expect out of our "gotcha day" and beyond. We have been trained throughout this process, to expect the worst and hope for the best. If I'm being honest with myself (and now with you), I often gloss over what probably will be.

We see adorable pictures of Emily. We talk about her like she's always been a part of our family. But Emily's reality is very different from the way we sometimes view it. The truth is harsh and ugly. Emily has experienced more trauma in the 2 years she has been alive than most of us will experience in a lifetime. Emily was born premature, with a heart defect and cerebral palsy. She was abandoned days after her birth and was immediately institionalized. She spent 6 months in an institution where she likely had little attention. She was uprooted about 6 months later and entered the care of Harmony House, hundreds of miles away from her originating orphanage. We are grateful that she has been at Harmony House since this time but the reality remains. She is still an orphan and hasn't experienced the love of a mother and father.

The reality of all this trauma leads me to expect a broken reunion with her, and a broken homecoming. She can't appreciate that she's being adopted. She has no idea what her future holds. She doesn't have the perspective that we have. She is fragile and I expect her behavior to reflect that. She will once again be uprooted and thrown in to the arms of a mother she does not know. We look different, we smell different, we sound different. We will drag her all over China before we fly home, to yet another place she is not familiar with. So, when I ponder my expectations, they are certainly low. I expect she will reject me. I expect she will be angry and scream constantly. Or perhaps she will shut down and avoid any emotion at all.

The not knowing. Isn't that always where our anxiety stems from? My prayer today is that I will continue to rely on the God who is never surprised, the God whose expectations are always fulfilled, the God who loves me infinitely more than I can even imagine, and the God who offers us a hope that can trample the trauma of Emily's first 2 years of life.

We expect the trauma in her life to be lived out when we get her (and beyond). But there's a reality that trumps the trauma. It is the reason we gave Emily the middle name "Hope". We have a tangible hope. Emily has a tangible hope. A hope that says her future is bright. A hope that can only be found in Christ. We have the hope of knowing that we were adopted by God, through the price of His only son (Ephesians 1:5). This hope gives us everlasting joy, despite any circumstances we may be surrounded by. I expect our trip to China and our uniting with Emily to be chaotic at best. But I also expect that our God can and will transform this experience in to a life of joy for us and for Emily. God is good. This has been true throughout our journey and it will remain true when we bring our sweet Mei Mei home.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" (Jeremiah 29:11)