China: Day 11

Today was a very bittersweet day. 
This morning, we left and were able to visit Ashby’s orphanage.
We took turns going inside, so that Ashby could stay in the van the entire time.  We had several people (including our social worker back home) tell us not to take her back inside because it sends a lot of mixed messages and could really upset and/or set her back.
A few details before I begin…
Ashby was found in a basket in front of a hospital on June 19, 2012.  Once inside the hospital, doctors examined her and estimated she was 10 days old.  Once a full examination was completed, she was sent to live in this particular orphanage. 
On April 3 of the following year, a photo of Ashby along with her information was placed in the local paper with a notice that her parents had 6 weeks to claim her or else she would be put up for adoption (we now have a copy of that newspaper clipping).  No one came forward to claim her and thus, she began the process of being adopted out. 
Over a year later, in July 2014, she was finally put on US adoption lists and our agency was the first to secure her for us to review.  Andrew and I received an email along with a photo and preliminary medical records on July 10th and pretty much knew right away that this was our girl.  Also on July 10, Ashby was moved from her large community room in the orphanage (where she had been for two years) and placed inside a foster home within the orphanage.
The foster home is a place to prepare the children who are about to be adopted out.  Ashby’s orphanage is apparently one of the nicest ones in this area and receives a lot of donations and charitable offerings.  One business even sponsors a “little sisters” program that’s very similar to a preschool and for the last 6 months, Ashby has been going to this little preschool every day.
So…off we went to see all of this.

On our way out this morning, we ate our traditional breakfast in the hotel restaurant…and took silly pictures :).

Ashby tries really hard not to smile when she knows we’re trying to get her to smile.  It’s so cute!  She sucks her lips in really tight trying to hold it in.

A boy and his bacon.

With her daddy ready to head out for the day.

In the van, he said “take a picture of me for Nixon to see”.  There you go Nixon :).
So, in this particular orphanage, there are over 800 children.  We pulled in and there were four really tall buildings (all 12 and 14 floors high) with a courtyard in the center.  Kensington and I got out first for our tour.  They started by taking us into the little foster home where Ashby has been living for the last 6 months.  There is one building dedicated to these kinds of homes full of apartments.  Each apartment has an older couple living in it and the criteria is that the woman must be retired and stay home all day but the men must still have a job outside of the orphanage during the day.  Ashby’s apartment was on the sixth floor and she had been living there with her foster parents and four other little girls.

This had been Ashby’s room and the bed on the left was Ashby’s.  I teared up just looking at it.  I’m so blessed that my sweet girl had a warm bed and sweet people caring for her.

A different view of their room.

Here we are in the living area of the apartment with Ashby’s foster mom.  This lady was so sweet and just went on and on and on about how precious Ashby is (in Chinese of course, I had someone there translating).  She gave me some more information about her and I was able to ask a lot of questions.  When we came in, she was in the middle of preparing lunch for the remaining four girls.  They go to their little preschool program in the morning, return for lunch and then go back in the afternoon.  She said Ashby was really attached to her husband and that they both were so happy she finally has a home.

They are in apartment 605…such a sweet little room full of pictures of them with these precious kids.
After we left the foster home building, we walked over to where the preschool is and where the babies are kept.  We walked up four flights of stairs to get to the “healthy baby” floor.  It broke my heart because there are some floors dedicated to babies with very severe health problems (like cerebral palsy and such).
This is the room where Ashby slept for 2 full years.  A room full of cribs and babies without parents.
One of the sweet ladies that cared for Ashby went and stood by her old crib so that I could see.  Way back there is where my baby used to sleep.

And then we took a picture together.  This lady and 13 others cared for my daughter during her two year stay here.

Next door to the crib room is the babies’ play room.  We only received three pictures of Ashby during the entire adoption process and I recognized this room from two of them.  All these babies ever see is that crib room and this room.  Look at all of those babies…they need homes.

And then our last stop was Ashby’s little preschool room.  It was happy and cheerful and she had two really sweet ladies teaching her.
After this, Kensington and I returned to the van and the boys toured.  This orphanage really was bittersweet.  It was sweet because it was clean and nice and full of loving and kind people.  It was bitter because I saw dozens and dozens of children (and remember, they have 800 there) that need a home.  These kids don’t have moms.  They don’t have dads.  They don’t have someone to hold them when they’re sick.  They don’t have someone to kiss them each night before bed.  They don’t have someone to hug them after they have a bad dream.  They don’t have anyone.  They are orphans.
In this little corner of the internet that I call home, my prayer today is this…that one family’s heart might be stirred to adopt.  A recent UNICEF report estimates that there are between 143 and 210 MILLION orphans in the world.  So many kids just need someone to give them a chance and I’m praying that maybe our story will encourage just one family to adopt.
After I return home, if you have questions about the adoption process, I would love to help.  You can email me once we’re home at mixandmatchmama@yahoo.com.
 
So…what did we do after spending our morning at the orphanage?  We headed to downtown Xi’an and did everything American…
We took our kids to McDonald’s.  (Don’t judge…after 11 days in China, my kids deserved a nice fry and nugget!)

Hmmm…pretty tasty.

 And then, we headed to my favorite place on earth…

…we found a delightful Starbucks in Xi’an!  Yay!  Ashby’s first Starbucks experience!!

Love.

We love making her smile :).

We love her serious face too.

We love our Ashby.
Tomorrow, we pick up Ashby’s passport and fly to our final city where Ashby will receive her Visa and we can head home.  We have one full week left in China!
Before I go, let me answer some frequently asked questions…
1. How old is Ashby?
She’s two!  Her birthday is June 9, 2012.
2. What do you know about her birth parents?
Absolutely nothing.  She was found in a basket with no information.  We don’t know anything.
3. Does Ashby speak Chinese?
Yes.  She’s already picking up some English but her native tongue is Mandarin Chinese.  We’re told that children her age and in her situation will quickly forget the Mandarin in favor of English.
4. What’s wrong with Ashby’s hand?
I’m going to save all of that info until we see the specialists at home and I have a better understanding myself.  She was born with a vascular birth defect that is effecting her hand.  We’re hoping to correct some of it (or as much as we can) once we’re home.  No matter what, we love our girl and think she’s just perfect.
XOXO

Click here to see Days 12 & 13.

ο»Ώ
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
  • Naomi Hong January 8, 2015 at 7:06 am

    I know this is probably not reasonable, but if possible it would be cool if she continued to learn English and Chinese at the same time. I was adopted at 5 months, so I of course had no language skills, but another friend in my adoption group was also 2 and knew some Chinese. Even though my adopted parents are Asian-American, they didn't send me to Chinese school or teach me another language, although some of the other parents in my group did. Being bilingual is something I wish I grew up in, but that's okay because I got to learn a different language in high school and now college. πŸ™‚

    • Maureen Chen January 25, 2015 at 6:45 am

      Hi Naomi, I think it is totally reasonable! HI SHAY, would you consider sending all 3 of your kids to Chinese school? I have a couple of friends who grew up in Texas going to Chinese school and church every week. What a gift you could give to all 3 of your kids πŸ™‚
      A lot of Chinese schools now offer CFL classes (Chinese as a Foreign Language). CFL classes are full of "mix and match" students, a perfect setting for all 3 of your kids, where Asian Americans and kids of all different ethnicities learn how to read, write, and speak Chinese. A lot of non-Asian parents want to give their kids an opportunity to learn Chinese now, when you think about Mandarin Chinese in our global society.
      I identity with Ashby, as an Asian American, growing up in California, no matter how "American" I am, people still view me as Chinese, because that's how I physically look. Ashby will pick up Chinese so easily when she attends Chinese school because her brain is already wired with the Chinese language from the first 2.5 years of her life. Because of that, she will be perfectly bilingual in both Chinese and English.
      I can totally see her siblings picking up another language, too!
      There's a Time article that talks about how being monolingual is the new illiteracy and to be literate is to be bilingual. You could also look into the Chinese immersion programs, offered in public schools, where children will be bilingual in Mandarin and English by the time they graduate elementary school.
      Giving your 3 kids the opportunity to attend Chinese school will present such wonderful gifts to them, including: being bilingual, connecting to their little sister's identity, allowing Ashby to maintain her mother tongue, giving them access to the global world, and embracing that part of Ashby that will always physically be there and obvious, her Chinese heritage.
      Most importantly, thank you for inspiring us all with your story. Ashby is such a blessed girl to be a part of your loving family! You are an inspiration to us all! I am also a mother of 3, age 6 and under, and would love to hear your thoughts on having your 3 children attend Chinese school. Our oldest just started Chinese school and is setting the foundation for his younger two siblings to follow. My kids are also Asian American and giving them the gift of learning Mandarin Chinese is something I will offer them year after year.
      P.S. I love the gigantic bows Ashby gets to wear on her head! Too adorable!
      P.P.S. My family and I are looking forward to the new comedy sitcom, on ABC, "Fresh Off the Boat," starting Feb. It's about growing up Asian in American, and I think you will like it πŸ™‚

  • Danika January 8, 2015 at 7:08 am

    Definitely a bittersweet day. I know you will have inspired other families to consider adoption. Thank you for allowing all of us to be a 'part' of your journey.

  • Cotton Hill January 8, 2015 at 7:14 am

    I just found out today that I'm pregnant with our second baby (due in July)! I've been having some insomnia, so you're updates have been keeping me company at night:) I'm lying here in bed blubbering, trying not to wake my husband and tell him we must adopt ALL THE BABIES. Maybe I should save these adoption posts for when I'm not pregnant and can think clearly. Ashby is so precious. Seriously precious.

  • Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 7:15 am

    Hi Shay, Great blog and lovely posts on adoption and Ashby. Just wanted to say that I hope you'll encourage Ashby to speak both English and Chinese, rather than hoping that she "forgets" Mandarin. I think it's so important for her to learn English but also be fluent in her native tongue and I know she'll be really thankful for that years from now.

    Again, wonderful blog and I'm so happy for your new family of 5!

  • Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 7:25 am

    I love your story! You and your husband are such wonderful people for adopting. I am adopted and also have an adopted daughter so I have so much appreciation and respect for you both. I'm new to your blog And really love reading your posts, especially your adoption story. God bless you all!! Your family of five is precious.

  • sarah c January 8, 2015 at 7:30 am

    I just cried my eyes out just looking at all these precious cutiepies without a family. I hope I can adopt one day . These precious children are so loved by God. Really children favor children favor english instead of mandarin? Interesting. I am Korean and learned korean but our family moved I forgotten my korean since I didn't have anybody to speak korean with. Ashby is such cutiepie. I love her smile!

  • Romi Q January 8, 2015 at 7:47 am

    In just a few days Ashby already looks so happy! That face is absolutely precious! Thank you so much for sharing this amazing journey of Ashby being adopted by her forever family.

  • Jeanette January 8, 2015 at 7:58 am

    Congratulations. She is so beautiful. I have been watching your posts and wishing you all the best. Thank you for giving Ashby a home and a family. And for being great parents to Kensington and Smith, too πŸ™‚ J

  • Dianne Hall January 8, 2015 at 8:09 am

    Wow this is amazing. The photo of the room with cribs and the room with babies made me cry. So heartbreaking. Ashby is so cute and perfect and I am glad she is finally with her family! Thank you for sharing

  • Nicole PrΕ‘a January 8, 2015 at 8:20 am

    Hi! I'm a new reader here and have been so moved by your story. Your family really is an inspiration and your blog has warmed my heart during this cold winter week. Ashby's birthday is my husband and my wedding anniversary so I feel this bit of a connection to her through that date. It was filled with so much love and happiness for us and I know your family is going to experience a lot of different situations now and in the future and I wish you guys lots of love and happiness and continued blessings!

  • Katrin Goldhorn January 8, 2015 at 8:44 am

    I love reading your blog. Ashby is one lucky child! I was an AuPair a few years back and the boy I was taking care of was adopted from Russia. They are my second family now and I think it's such an incredible thing to adopt. I am definitely looking into adoption when the time of having kids comes. You have a beautiful family. Thanks for letting us follow your journey! Greetings from Berlin. XO

  • Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 10:27 am

    I'm an early childhood specialist teaching college students.

    Please, please, please allow Ashby to learn both languages. It will help her to know both! Both for early brain / language development and long term benefits.

  • Ani January 8, 2015 at 10:42 am

    Love her little personality shining through. She's got a spark of mischief in her eyes πŸ˜‰
    What a treasure for you to visit the orphanage, you will be able to answer some of her questions as she grows up. Blessings.

  • Narci January 8, 2015 at 11:09 am

    Ashby IS perfect, and we love her so much already! What a powerful day for you guys. love you!!

  • Chic Coastal Living January 8, 2015 at 11:10 am

    She is sooooooo precious and I can see how beautifully she is already blending in with your family! WOW! Best story ever! I love her and you! God bless you Shay and your precious family! The Lord is with you ever step of the way! XOXOXO

  • Johannah January 8, 2015 at 11:13 am

    I just know by reading this post that you have inspired other bloggers out there do consider adoption. In my head I thought I knew what an orphanage was like, but after seeing your pictures I have to say it completely breaks my heart. All these poor little babies with no moms and dads. You and your husband are amazing for adopting Ashby. What a loving home and family she will have!!!

  • Sheaffer {Pinterest Told Me To} January 8, 2015 at 11:43 am

    Ashby's smiles melt me. And I was so happy to read how amazing her orphanage was! Thank God for those sweet workers. The crib room and the playroom broke my heart. I have no doubt that you are inspiring others to go down this road, and I think lots of babies will get forever families because of them!

  • Brittany Medland January 8, 2015 at 11:43 am

    What an incredible journey you are on! This definitely would have been a bittersweet day! I just want to love on all those babies!!
    Ashby is soo soo sweet! It's nice to see her smile πŸ™‚

  • Erika Slaughter January 8, 2015 at 11:47 am

    Oh my goodness!!! That smile!!! I'm so glad you guys toured the orphanage. I have tons of questions!!! Now…get back so you can answer them! By the way, I can't wait to show Nix the picture. Thank you Smith!!!

  • Betsy Maddox January 8, 2015 at 11:48 am

    I LOVE seeing her sweet smile!! Yay!! What a bittersweet day for you though. I will pray with you that hearts will be stirred to adopt. So many precious babies with no home. Makes me so sad.

  • Blue-Eyed Bride January 8, 2015 at 11:59 am

    Love you and your heart so much, friend!! Thank you for sharing your story with so many!

  • Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    Absolutely love seeing the smiles that are slowly creeping onto Ashby's face!! Yay! So glad for your family! Ashby is adorable and from your pictures, it looks like Kensington has been very helpful in making Ashby quickly feel like a part of the family!! Thanks for sharing your journey with your blog followers.

  • The Stantons January 8, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    I loooove all the pictures posted…but that last one of Ashby smiling is simply fabulous! Good job Momma! Pretty tough fight getting there to get her, shows how much grit a Momma Bear (and a Poppa Bear) has to get their baby!

  • Kristen Gerdel January 8, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    Her smile is just precious. Thank you Shay for sharing your adoption story. God bless you and your sweet family. And yay for McDonald's:)

  • Mackensey Stang January 8, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    Tears in my eyes reading this. I hope every one if those babies gets the home that they deserve.
    I love the pictures of ashby; every post it is clear she is opening up more and showing her personality. She is beautiful!

  • Toni :O) January 8, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    Incredible photos…that crib room and play room with over twenty sweet babies playing with no Mommas or Daddys, I just can't imagine…wow, just wow…I'm sure you've inspired some to look down that path for sure. Blessings on the rest of your stay and you picked a terrific little gal! She's beautiful and perfect!!

  • Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    What a wonderful bonding experience it would be for all 3 kids to learn Mandarin…with precious Ashby leading the way.

  • Natalie January 8, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    The orphanage brought tears to my eyes. Such precious babies in there. And BTW, I think McDonalds is PERFECT!

  • Jessica January 8, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    If there's one thing that can rip my heart into a million pieces and make be cry my eyes out, it's a room full of babies with no mama. My heart has definitely been softened to adoption because of your journey. Thank you.

  • Sandra Litcher January 8, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    Oh Ashby's smile!! Love it! I know that you will inspire someone to adopt with this post! I have never thought about it and it isn't even a possibility for us at this point, but I will tell you, this post made me think! For someone who has considered it and is in a place to be able, I am sure this post would be that last little push! Your family is an inspiration!

  • kimm atwood January 8, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Ashby is perfect!!!! God bless you and your family of 5

  • Liz F. January 8, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    I am sitting in my family room surrounded by all of the paraphernalia that I feel that my 3 month old requires (pack n'play, huge swing, bouncy seat) with tears rolling down my face. Last night was a HARD one as a momma–my daughter did NOT want to go to sleep. Finally soft music, while holding her close and cooing into her ear did the trick. All of the gear is nice for sure but the most important thing my daughter has is a mother–someone to hold her, rock her, love her unconditionally. Those rows of cribs breaks my heart. Every child deserves a mother (and father). God bless you.

  • Julie January 8, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    My husband and I are in the process of adopting a little girl (from Africa). Your posts have me crying every morning! Your little girl is so so sweet. We're at the point that the wait is getting absolutely agonizing. We have really enjoyed sharing our story with people and encouraging them to look into adoption. It has also been a great way for us to share the gospel with others. So many people are curious, it's just a natural open door to share!

  • Tara G. January 8, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    McDonald's tastes better overseas. Her smile is precious!

  • Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Thank you for encouraging people to email you about the process, that's so sweet of you! I know you'll be a busy lady and it's so sweet of you to offer. I think a big question people will want to know is the cost… Many would adopt if it weren't for the overwhelming price, which is so sad given all those babies. Thank you for sharing your story

  • Courtney Willis January 8, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    How am I just realizing that you're blogging??? I'm so glad! Goodness…it feels like we were just doing this ourselves! Different but similar! Praise Jesus for orphanage workers who loved on your girl! And that foster home was freaking awesome!!! Seeing that sweet smile on her face is pricess!!! She is going to find her groove as the littlest Shull just fine! Smith will find his new role groove too! You'll be home before you know it!!!

  • Dana Vissage January 8, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    What a sweet, sweet post. Thank you for sharing your story, Shay! SO, SO happy for your sweet family!!

  • Cindy McF January 8, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    A photo speaks in a way thousands of words fall short. Thank you so much for making the time to share your family's story with us during a busy/happy/crazy/chaotic/amazing chapter in your lives. Those pictures will mean so much to Ashby as she grows up. Hugs to all of you!

  • Barri Chandler January 8, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    It's so heartwarming to see the change in Ashby's face each day. It's not just the "almost smiles", it's her eyes. In each new picture, you can see the wariness disappearing and a joy at being loved by all of you replacing it. Thank you for sharing!

  • Misty Colton January 8, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Such PRECIOUS pictures! It is BITTERSWEET to see where she was all this time.

    The biggest thing about these photos that make my heart melt is the SMILE on that precious face. Her personality is really coming out. I finally was able to see the video from yesterday's post and it was TOO SWEET!

  • Jessica Andrusko January 8, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    Such a beautiful story, and such a beautiful, sweet girl who is perfect just the way she is! Thank you so much for sharing (and continuing to share your story!) I so love and appreciate the honesty with the bumps in the road. My family has been considering adoption for awhile so I really appreciate your willingness to answer questions and share pearls of wisdom. I can't wait to pick your brain! Praying for a safe trip for you guys and that the smiles keep coming!!

  • Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    Shay, I want you to know that your story has been the push my husband and I needed to start the adoption process. Thank you so much for sharing your heart here.

    Allison

  • Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    You and your family are amazing. Ashby is perfect. So cute. My husband and I have thought of adoption before. You have inspired us to go through with it. I have a lot of questions and will definitely being emailing you when you get back.
    Congratulations. Safe trip.
    Leanne

  • Lauren January 8, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    So touched by your story — prayers for blessed trip for you all, and smooth transition! Xoxo

  • Laura Fuller January 8, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    Wow. Wow. Wow! She is BE-YOU-TIFUL. And, sucking in her lip so you can't see her smile…to die for. I would bet she's all smiles before much longer. A little Darling for sure.

  • Lindsay Dunagan January 8, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    Ashby has such a beautiful smile!!!

    I had to read this post a couple of times and I can't get through it with out crying. You have given orphans and an amazing voice. You've really touched me with sharing your story. I will continue praying for your family. God bless you!!

  • Kim January 8, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    I am loving reading all these posts about Ashby. You have amazing way with words.. Ashby is so precious.. Pretty little mouth feature.. We need more people in the world like you and Andrew.. Praying for safe travels home…

  • Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    I've been anxiously awaiting each of your blog posts from China – but reading them stoically … until that last beautiful picture of little Ashby! OH MY! That smile is what I've been longing to see. God bless you all for the hope and the joy you will bring to this little one's life (and she to yours!). His blessing and peace be upon you as you come home.

  • marianne January 8, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    She is just gorgeous! I don't understand why they make the process to adopt so difficult. There are lots of people that would take those babies but the process is so overwhelming that we think we can't do it.

  • Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    Hi Shay and family!

    So happy for your family, Ashby is such a sweet little girl. I was just wondering if your family named Ashby or did she already have a name?

    Good Luck with the rest of your trip.

    Kate
    Canada

  • Anna January 8, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    Wow! What a story! Thank you so much for sharing the goods and the bass from the process. Often times people don't give a full glimpse of what it's like for them. What is Ashby's Chinese name? Will you call her by it as she adjusts?

  • Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    Shay, so very amazing!!!! Thanks for sharing so much of this story… I don't doubt that God will use this to call one or many more to this as well, using you guys as a part of their journey!!

    I love seeing the smiles… SO precious! I think we're falling in love with Ashby right along with you guys…

    Karen I.

  • Meg Hodges January 8, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    Oh Shay; thank you so much for taking us all along with you in your journey to get Ashby. Seeing all those little babies in that orphanage just breaks my heart. But at the same time, so thankful that your story will hopefully help encourage others to adopt. My little one is two, and I just couldn't image not loving on her and kissing her goodnight every night. Ashby is just beautiful, and your kids seem to just love her dearly!

  • tpatters5 January 8, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    I literally cried when I saw that room of cribs. It is really heartbreaking when you think about all those sweet babies. I hope that your post does stir someone's heart.

    The pictures of Ashby trying not to smile are so sweet. She is gorgeous and I am so happy she found a home with your family. It is clear that your home is very loving and she is blessed to be so loved. I am also happy to see Smith with a smile on his face again. He is such a wonderful little boy (I have followed your blog for a while and have a four year old boy and a six year old girl and I know how close little boys are to their mamas so I thought he might be a tad upset about loosing his baby of the family status. Mine certainly has let it be known he relishes that role. :)). Good luck on the rest of the trip. I am so happy for you.

  • Jessica January 8, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful experience! What a blessed girl to go to such a sweet family!

  • acerny January 8, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    I have been so looking forward to every post and Instagram picture! What an amazing journey. Ashby is so lucky to have an amazing family, and I know y'all are lucky to have her too! I am wondering (as are you I'm sure) with so many children up for adoption, why can't they make the process faster? I hate that little ashby had a loving family ready for her and still had to stay in there for a year! Heartbreaking!

  • Helen Truesdale January 8, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    Shay-
    Like others, your post brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for documenting this experience and sharing with us. I get on my computer every morning excited to see what adventures have happened in China. I've said it before and I'll say it again…your faith in the Lord is so awesome and such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your faith and displaying your constant positive attitude. Enjoy your last week in China, these will be memories you will cherish forever!

  • Gavan January 8, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    Wow, such a bittersweet day…..I was even tearing up!! Love the pics with her cute little smile in them. She is going to have a very blessed life that's for sure! God bless your family!
    Melody

  • Kim Saffran January 8, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    What a sweet little girl. And she is so lucky to have you. Question – do you adopt her in China or when you get back home. I live in Wisconsin and we did foster care to adopt and our son had to live with us for six months before we can adopt him.

  • Erin January 8, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    I am so touched and moved by this and all the posts you've written. I have been praying for you and your sweet family. Praising God that He chose you, equipped you, and is now using you to give a voice to His precious children. We serve an amazing God!

  • Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    Your kids are adorable!!!

  • Mindy January 8, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    I have been following your blog for several years now! So many things about this post made me smile! Ashby's sweet little smile, McDonald's and that you are heading to Guangzhou now! Loved seeing where Ashby was living! Not sure my daughter (10 yrs old) would of survived on Chinese food for 11 days. Glad you found some American food! My brother-in-law and sister-in-law have their gotcha day this Friday. Their appointment in Guangzhou isn't until 1/20 though.
    PS – did you see the IG comment today of someone that just adopted and how she is pretty sure her daughter was at the same place as Ashby?
    Safe travels!! XOXO

  • Sara Laverty January 8, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    Heck yeah your kids deserved a taste of home with some McD's and Starbucks for y'all!! πŸ˜‰ K and S are rockstar big siblings to their precious little sister Ashby!

    Love that y'all got to see where Asbhy's been for the past couple years and thank the Lord for those sweet caretakers that give those babies love. They are heroes!!

    I have to say that the leopard bow Ashby's rockin in the pics is my favorite so far! πŸ™‚

  • Rebecca Jo January 8, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    All those babies… oh my gosh… my heart aches.

  • violinista January 8, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    Yeah, so now I TOTALLY want to adopt a Chinese baby. But I should probably wait until I give birth to my first one coming up in July :/
    You're doing a wonderful thing welcoming Ashby into your family. She is very precious and fortunate to be with such a good family.
    And to the "anonymous" commenter who suggested that they are "hoping" Ashby forgets Mandarin, I think you misunderstood… I understood it to be a merely stated fact that children that young who are adopted tend to quickly forget their native language. I highly doubt they're "hoping" she forgets as quickly as possible. I'm a teacher and know many parents who have adopted kids from Asia who enroll them later in Chinese school so they stay connected to their roots and not grow up regretting they lost it. Perhaps the Shull family plans on doing that, too, but either way I wouldn't judge them at all!

  • live compassionately January 8, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    Her little smile made my day! She is just a doll! I agree – it was hard seeing the pictures from the orphanage, especially since adopting a Chinese baby girl has been on my heart for as long as I can remember! My husband and I are not in a place where we can do that yet, but definitely still praying about it!

  • Dianna January 8, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    This broke my heart and made me smile at the same time. Ashby is just adorable. I am so excited for your sweet family. Praying for you all during this journey that has only just begun.

  • Abbey January 8, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    I know it's probably hard to find time to blog but thank you so much for blogging this journey. I have really enjoyed reading each day!

  • B.Y.S. January 8, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    I was 9 mos. old when I was adopted from Korea, 31 years ago, I am 32 now. My sister was 4 mos. old when she was adopted from Korea.

    Ashby's story is similar to mine.

    Amy

  • Melissa January 8, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    No judgement here…McDonalds and Starbucks would be a must with us after we had been there just a few days-ha! You do what you have to do!!!

    It's been so fun to watch your journey and a joy to see all three of your precious kiddos.

  • Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    So nice to see her finally smile!

  • Queen In Between January 8, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    Wow..I had absolutely had no idea the number of children in the world who are truly orphans. Such an inspiring post.

  • mommamia January 8, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    I am sitting at work with tears streaming down my face. We are in the process of our own adoption with very different circumstances. Your story is touching my heart.
    Ashby is precious and has the same birthday as my son did.
    your family of 5 is precious and all three children are blessed to have you Andrew as parents.

  • Katlin Smith January 8, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    Hi Shay, I have been reading the whole time waiting on pins and needles for you to meet Ashby. There has not been one post since you picked up your little girl that I have not cried through. Tears of joy are such a wonderful thing. This little girl is so lucky to have a family with such wonderful hearts to be her forever family. And the picture where she is trying not to smily is my favorite because you can tel she is smiling with her eyes and it is just precious.
    Prayers to you and your family

  • Debbie January 8, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    Oh, my. The pictures and the vision your words created just break my heart for these dear children. If I were younger and able, I would so love to adopt several of them. You have done a great work! Prayers and thanks for sharing!

  • Stacey January 8, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    Look at her! She already looks so much happier and she knows she's loved. You can see it in her eyes and that coy little smile. β™₯

  • Dena January 8, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    Great Post! Brought tears to my eyes.

  • Jaren January 8, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    Tears again! You definitely tugged at my heart, and if I didn't already have my hands full with my 4 littles, I'd love to help one of those sweet babies. You've opened my eyes to all of this. I'm so glad she was in a place with loving and kind people.

  • Laura January 8, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    Oh Shay… I am tearing up reading this. I am not quite ready for children (just 24), but my heart goes out to those children. I want to give them a home and a family! A place to come home to every year for holidays and birthdays. I love this and have loved reading all of your posts!! My favorite part of this one was when Ashby had her first Starbucks experience… somehow in my mind that makes her officially YOUR daughter!! Haha!

  • MontrealMama January 8, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    This makes my heart so happy! I love seeing the updates.Ashby is already a Shull!You have thought this out so well.I hope it stays as easy when you get home.

  • Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    Shay, as you know, YOU are Ashby's mother. So…as well-intentioned as these people are who are telling you to have her learn chinese, I am a bit astounded by how brazen it really is. It makes me wonder if they go around counseling all their mom friends on how to raise their children? Don't they "get" that there may be a plethora of things that take priority over continuing chinese. How about we just let Shay and Andrew be the parents? After all God is letting them. Lol.
    Great job, Mama!

  • Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    beautiful

  • Vicki January 8, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    I love reading about your trip and the journey to adopt Ashby. πŸ™‚ I am so glad to finally see a picture of her smiling! What an adorable little girl. πŸ™‚

  • Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    Shay, I have been a year long reader of yours and can't help but be motivated and inspired by your families adoption story. Keep being Gods beautiful people. Ashby is perfect.

  • Emily January 8, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    I teach first grade and last year I had a little girl in my class who also had a vascular birth defect that affected one hand and one foot. One of the first days of school she was the very important "line leader" and I went to hold her hand as we left the room. She asked me if I wanted to hold her other hand because her "little hand" was different. I told her that I loved that it was different because our differences make us special and beautiful. Towards the end of the year we do a writing project where they write about their favorite part of them. I went to read what she was working on and she had written that her favorite part of her was her "little hand" because her teacher thought it was beautiful. Melted. My. Heart. Thank you for sharing your adoption journey πŸ™‚

    • Anonymous January 9, 2015 at 5:11 am

      God bless you for doing the job you are with this little girl and others!!!

  • Sarah January 8, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    I am so glad that she was living in such a loving place. I have good friends who adopted a little girl from China and her orphanage was NOTHING like Ashby's. I'm so glad both girls now live with loving families!

  • Sarah January 8, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    I am so glad that she was living in such a loving place. I have good friends who adopted a little girl from China and her orphanage was NOTHING like Ashby's. I'm so glad both girls now live with loving families!

  • Brooke Retherford January 8, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    It was hard to choke back tears on this one. I'm so glad you guys decided to go the adoption route, you all are just as lucky to have Ashby as she is to have you!

  • Jodi January 8, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    One of my favorite verses is James 1:27 "Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…." You are truly walking in God's plan for your family and it is amazing to see. You are forever blessed. I'm so glad another little one has found their forever home.

  • Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    So happy for you and your growing family. And for the little girl in China who has a family now, thanks to you! Did she have a different name before the adoption? Also, when you told us you were adopting back in 2013 you told us her name…but you said you didn't know who she was until July of 2014…can you explain that for us?

  • Caitlin Elizabeth January 8, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    I just discovered your blog and love your adoption story! Ashby is so beautiful, and it's so wonderful that you're able to take the whole family to China to meet her and experience her home country! My mom was adopted from Germany and her brother from Greece, so we know adoption well in our family. I see a couple other people have mentioned this, and I agree I hope Ashby can continue to speak her native language as well as learning English. My mom is so sad that she lost her German, she's tried to pick it up as an adult but it is so much harder, and it's a much easier language than Mandarin. Congratulations on your new extended family!

  • Lora G January 8, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this. I've really never known what all goes into adoption. It's truly incredible!

  • Laci Murray January 8, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    I could not agree more, Ashby is PERFECT in every way!! That smile is absolutely adorable and I think the world of you and your husband for giving this sweet girl a forever home. Love that you have let us in on this journey with you. So inspiring!

  • Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    thanks always for sharing. ashby looks so happy and she has a beautiful life ahead of her. hope your family of 5 has a great time this last week in china! safe travels!!!

  • Michelle January 8, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    What a cutie and a blessing! Your family is an inspiration to adopt…and I already have four! So sad to see the orphanage, but thank you for sharing and opening our eyes and hearts. God bless you all :). And I agree, McDonald's is perfect…sometimes in another country you need a little comfort of the USA πŸ˜‰

  • Molly Middleton January 8, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    Shay. You & Andrew are amazing. That's all I have to say. XOXO

  • Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    I love your story! What is Ashby's Chinese name that they gave her in the orphanage?

  • The Seidel Family January 8, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    She is precious…even more so when she smiles! I don't know who I'm excited more for…her for joining your beautiful family or for you all who get such a gift with Ashby. The orphanage is so interesting but seeing that room of babies playing makes my heart so sad. They just need homes and more love! I pray that each of them finds a home of love to grow up in.

  • Erin Saatela January 8, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    Ok that picture where Kensington is trying to make Ashby smile is so stinkin' cute! I hope Ashby has love and laughter in her life and so glad she found a home. Praying for the rest of the kids in that orphanage that they find equally great homes.

  • Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    Hi Shay,

    A very touching and wonderful blog today. I agree with the others that she learn both languages just like Kensington is learning French. The one important thing that Ashby has is socializing skills. Being around those babies and the other children from the school and her sistermates living with the foster family has given her the tools to go back home and fit in with all the babies and children that your family knows. I am sure she will have lots of fun getting to know the kids and making new friends of her own. By the end of the year she could be ready for real pre-school like the other children. I am sure you and the kids want to get to know her and do fun family stuff before all the kids are in school for the day. The photos are precious. Love the smiles on the kids. Good Luck for the rest of the time your there and hopefully the temps back home will warm up some. Cold everywhere. Spring where are you?

  • Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 5:30 pm

    I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face. Ashby is absolutely gorgeous and she looks like she fits right in! God Bless you and your beautiful family.

  • Rachel Johnson January 8, 2015 at 5:49 pm

    I started reading your blog a couple of years ago, I'm not exactly sure how I stumbled across it, maybe through Kelly's blog, yes that is probably it, but I LOVE reading your blog. Your family is absolutely precious and Ashby is a perfect fit! I have loved following your adoption journey. I felt confident before today that two was my limit and now I'm thinking that two of me and my husband is enough, but I could see a third in my life. The picture of the babies play room brought tears to my eyes. I don't dare to imagine what the parents of some of those precious babies must have went through, all I can do is hope that each and every one of them babies are lucky enough to find their forever home. This has changed my "two is my limit" thinking, I know right now in my life adoption is not possible, but you have opened my mind to thinking that one day is a possibility. Thanks for sharing your life with us.

  • Marie January 8, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    I loved that you are sharing this with us, It brought tears to my eyes just thinking of all those little babies, I wish we could adopt but I'm sure my husband wouldn't be on board. Ashby is beautful and already looks like part of your family, God Bless all of you, I bet your dying to get home and cook with your 3 babies!!

  • Jaclyn Johnson January 8, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    Thank you for continuing to share, Shay! Ashby looks like she's already getting more and more comfortable each day and I'm sure it's so fun for all of you to see her personality come through! Still praying every morning for a smooth and safe return to the US for all of you πŸ™‚

  • Paige @ Reasons to Come Home January 8, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    Ashby is absolutely perfect! I'm so happy y'all were able to see where she has lived the past two and half years. All those cribs is absolutely heartbreaking! My husband and I have been praying about adopting from Rwanda but we've been told they don't allow open adoptions. The children of Rwanda hold a special place in our heart!

  • Allison F January 8, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    Wow. Just wow. Seeing all those cribs is beyond heartbreaking but how wonderful they have such sweet people caring for them. It makes my heart ache thinking of all these precious babies being cared for 24/7 by workers, rather than parents. Thank you for all the info. Ashby is absolutely precious.

  • Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us!!! I have to say, I think adoption is one of the most beautiful acts of love that a person can do. And your story and these pictures just prove it. It saddens me to think there are children out there with no one to love them. But today there is one less because of you and your family. Thank you for that.

  • Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us!!! I have to say, I think adoption is one of the most beautiful acts of love that a person can do. And your story and these pictures just prove it. It saddens me to think there are children out there with no one to love them. But today there is one less because of you and your family. Thank you for that.

  • B January 8, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    I am loving following along on your journey in China. Ashby is a doll! The picture of all those cribs breaks my heart. I have always wanted to adopt, but my husband isn't quite as receptive. We have talked about becoming foster parents when our youngest is a little older (he's 8 months now). I know God will lead us down the path that is right for our family :).

  • Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 7:23 pm

    So adorable!! You are starting to inspire me to adopt a baby in need of a family. Did you name Ashby or was that her name beforehand?

  • Holly January 8, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    God bless your journey! So thankful precious Ashby has you as her mommy. You make me want to consider adoption!!! Praise God for his providence!

  • jo January 8, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    You are an inspiration. I am reading and tearing up. What a beautiful family. Love and prayers.

  • Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 7:36 pm

    This brings tears to my eyes! Absolutely beautiful…bless your family πŸ™‚

  • Elizabeth Park January 8, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    Hey Shay! I just wanted to say that God has also placed adoption on my heart, and specifically for kids who have some type of disability. I feel God is calling me to care, love and raise children that no one else wants….. which is scary but also such a blessing at the same time. When you mentioned Ashby for months and months, for some reason, I thought it would be an African kid. hehe but when I saw your Ashby is from China, I was pleasantly surprised because I just did not expect it. I just love the heart that you have for your Ashby, as your own child. It definitely inspires me to love children all the more as they need it… Also, I agree with Naomi Hong's comment, that you should really try to give Chinese lessons to Ashby so she will still be in touch with her roots, and she will have the language skills when she wants to come back to her home country. and how God will use her. It's also crazy that Ashby is from Xi'an because God has been placing Xi'an on my heart, and I plan to visit there this year. I have a heart for missions, and I am praying for China as a potential place for where the Lord is calling me long-term. Thanks for sharing your life on this blog with the rest of us.. It truly is a joy to read your daily stories and how you are walking with the Lord. God bless you!

  • Carrie January 8, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    One sure way to encourage people to consider adoption is reading a blog like yours. Nothing tugs at the heart strings more than seeing those little faces knowing they need a forever family. It worked for me almost 9 years ago and if I hadn't aged out I'd be doing the paperchase for #3!

    Safe travels to your next stop. Having done this twice before, I'm pretty sure I know where you are headed to and what a wonderful place it is. If you're on Shamain Island, check out Lucy's for a casual lunch. My family loved it! Looking forward to more photos. Ashby looks like she is doing great with her new family!

  • Elizabeth Park January 8, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    Hey Shay! I just wanted to say that God has also placed adoption on my heart, and specifically for kids who have some type of disability. I feel God is calling me to care, love and raise children that no one else wants….. which is scary but also such a blessing at the same time. When you mentioned Ashby for months and months, for some reason, I thought it would be an African kid. hehe but when I saw your Ashby is from China, I was pleasantly surprised because I just did not expect it. I just love the heart that you have for your Ashby, as your own child. It definitely inspires me to love children all the more as they need it… Also, I agree with Naomi Hong's comment, that you should really try to give Chinese lessons to Ashby so she will still be in touch with her roots, and she will have the language skills when she wants to come back to her home country. and how God will use her. It's also crazy that Ashby is from Xi'an because God has been placing Xi'an on my heart, and I plan to visit there this year. I have a heart for missions, and I am praying for China as a potential place for where the Lord is calling me long-term. Thanks for sharing your life on this blog with the rest of us.. It truly is a joy to read your daily stories and how you are walking with the Lord. God bless you!

  • Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    Hi Shay! I would usually never leave a comment but I have to in this case. Let me start by saying that you are incredible- we need more people like you and your husband in this world. I am 20 years old and was brought to tears instantly upon reading your blog. Though I'm obviously too young now, I can't wait for the day that I can adopt a child with my future husband. I used to beg my parents to do so but it was simply not in the cards for them. Your story is inspiring, so thank you. God bless you and your family. xoxo

  • Deena Simair January 8, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    Congrats! That's one beautiful family.

  • Heather January 8, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story with all of us! Another blogger I read sometimes also adopted from China and they did something I thought was really cool…she bought enough little gifts in her adopted daughter's hometown to be able to give her something from where she came from every year on her birthday until she was 18. (I think the 18th birthday gift was some traditional jade jewelry or something similarly special). Anyway, I thought that was a cool idea so I wanted to share! Congratulations on your beautiful daughter!

  • Briana Runde January 8, 2015 at 8:28 pm

    Again I cried! Thank you for sharing your adoption story! I guess I had no idea what an orphanage is truely like, and it breaks my heart.

  • Kristy Goode January 8, 2015 at 8:28 pm

    This journey of ya'lls…it's remarkable.
    I don't know any better way of putting it, Shay. REMARKABLE.

  • Laurie S January 8, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    This is a wonderful post – as you said, bittersweet. I liked the foster home – so colorful – but the room with all the cribs was heartbreaking – and you showed the healthy baby ward!

    As some of the commenters wrote, please encourage Ashby to keep up with her Mandarin Chinese when you return to the States. I was born in the US to overseas born Chinese parents. I am told that I spoke mainly Cantonese (another Chinese dialect) the first years of my life, but I "lost" it as I grew older and went into the public school system. I can still speak a bit and understand a lot, but wish/would love to learn it better. I guess I could at age 50…

    Enjoy the rest of your travels in China. Be safe. God bless.

  • Shannon Sentences January 8, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    I'm sad to see that this post of great joy, hope and love has been overshadowed in the comments by the debate about language. I too am a big proponent of teaching foreign languages to young children but feel that people should give this new Mama of 3, who is still abroad adopting her new child and still adapting and learning and isn't even home yet, a break and a chance to learn her child and her new family dynamics before jumping into language decisions, etc. Best of luck to you and your family during this exciting time, and I hope things continue to go as well as they have so far in your trip and time with Ashby. Long live the "Honeymoon Phase"!

  • Natalie Zambreski January 8, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    She is beautiful! And I love that she's now taken part in a very important Shull ritual – STARBUCKS πŸ™‚ Congrats again on adding another sweet member to your family!

  • Aubrey January 8, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    My oh my, what an emotional day! God bless those lovely people who have cared for your little girl for the last 2.5 years. The photo of the lady standing by Ashby's crib made my heart hurt. In that vast sea of sterile identical cots, she remembered exactly where your wonderfully unique baby girl slept.

    There is no doubt in my mind that you are inspiring other adoptive parents. Can't wait for you to wrap up in China and get yourselves HOME!

  • Jennifer Sabino January 8, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    It is wonderful that there are still good people in this world. You and your family are amazing. It is insane to see all of those little children with no parents. And to hear that Ashby was left in a basket? That's awful to hear. But she couldn't be more blessed to have y'all!

    -Jennifer

    http://www.jennifersblogbook.blogspot.com

  • Fabiana January 8, 2015 at 9:24 pm

    I teared up reading your story and at the same time made me so happy that she has a home. God bless you and your family. πŸ™‚

  • The Yarbrough's January 8, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    Look at that sweet face…you can tell she's wanting to smile. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ I could squeeze her.

    Breaks my heart seeing the pictures of the orphanage. We take so many things for granted. We are blessed!!

  • Keith and Brittany January 8, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    Okay that last picture of ashby is PERFECT! Obviously all of the pictures are amazing but seeing her becoming more and more used to being with her new family, you can see her heart warming and The Lord working through her. I definitely want to adopt! Someday soon I hope I'm standing where you are!!!

  • Karen Ward January 8, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    I can already see a progression in Ashby's face where she is moving from being tense and apprehensive (at the first) to being more relaxed with her new family. I think Kensington and Smith have been a big help where that is concerned.

    Congratulations, again. She is just precious and I've enjoyed reading your adoption experience!

  • Maria January 8, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your story. My husband and I have been considering adoption and after reading your story it has really helped me see that we need to go for it. Thank you for helping me see that this truly is something I need to do. I am so glad Ashby has a loving home and I will be praying for those other children.

  • Jane @ anothermommablog.blogspot.com January 8, 2015 at 10:18 pm

    I cried my eyes out when I saw the crib room and play room with so many babies.
    Ashby is adorable. Congrats on your family of 5 and thanks for sharing your family's journey.

  • Kirsten January 8, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    Ashby is so very sweet – and the whole story melts my heart. You guys are such a special family to be able to do this. How exciting to have a new member of the family – and bring her home to a forever family! you can totally see in the pictures what amazing big siblings Smith and Kensington will be!

  • realmommypreneur.com January 8, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    Shay, Shay, Shay! I just about cried reading this post. I am so glad that God put it on you and your husbands heart to adopt. Ashby is so blessed by what you two are doing. I love it and I look forward to future posts.

  • Melody Lietzau January 8, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    We got a lot of the same comments encouraging us to keep up her language. Honestly when you get home there is so much adjusting with kids, doctors, life etc. We did not want to make her feel any different than our other two. We celebrate Chinese new year and teach her about China and if she decides later that she wants to learn mandarin we will make it happen. Love her just the same as your other blessings, give her up to the Lord and you will be great. You are going to get so much interesting feedback πŸ™‚ God is using you and your story to impact so many so keep it up. Love your blog so much.

  • Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    What lovely pictures! I loved reading this blog post! πŸ™‚ Do you think you might have Ashby continue in her Mandarin learning as well? It would be greatly beneficial for Ashby to continue learning Chinese as well along with English and that way she can maintain some connection to her homeland and culture. Research has shown that it wouldn't harm her English language development in any way. How wonderful would it be if you all as a family could learn Mandarin as she learned English? You could all help each other πŸ™‚

  • Kristen Helfinstine January 8, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    That smile and those eyes! She is so adorable!! Congratulations to your family!! I'm so happy for you!

  • Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 11:08 pm

    God bless you! I'm all emotional reading this. My youngest grandchild came to us from Korea. He's a total joy…..

  • Sarah Kuykendall January 8, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    Bitter sweet is just the right word! I love seeing Ashby's personality showing! She is so blessed to be your daughter. The orphanage broke my heart. I hope those sweet babies find their forever homes. God bless the babies and workers in orphanages.

  • Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    You have inspired someone in Canada to adopt! It was always a thought in my head and reading this has really shown me how amazing it is! I am recently engaged so we have a few years ahead of us before we are ready for this step- but reading this is so inspiring and has officially made it out future goal ! Thank you so much! We sit down together every night and read what you have to say and discuss the future πŸ™‚

  • Paula January 8, 2015 at 11:59 pm

    What an emotional day. All those babies. ALL THOSE SPECIAL NEEDS BABIES! Breaks my heart. My daughter is special needs! It takes a special someone to take a baby with severe special needs and make them their own.

    I love how close K & A are getting. A special sister bond. And sweet little Smith, he will figure it all out. He's excited too, just processing all the change. I think the little extra bonding with Ashby while K is at school will be good for him. And the special time he gets with you while Ashby is sleeping will be extra special!
    I don't have a newly adopted baby, but I do have 1 daughter with special needs, twin girls and a 9 year old boy going on 40. All are struggling for my full attention. Completely normal! Remember, you ARE doing enough!

    Prayers continue!

  • Susan January 9, 2015 at 12:00 am

    Beautiful. I'm sorry to bring up language, but I just want to encourage you to do what is best for your family as a whole right now. We go to a predominantly Asian-American church, and even when both parents speak the language, it is very difficult to teach it to your children. Our family speaks Chinese, and if we adopted from China, I don't know if we could keep it up. Many end up choosing not to, and it's not a light decision. There are hundreds of things we want to teach our children, and if you choose not to invest in hours and hours of speaking/listening/tutoring it takes to continue in Chinese right now, that's ok. Lord willing, sweet Ashby's PRIMARY identity will be in Christ, her primary culture the love of fellow believers that transcends race, and her citizenship in heaven. If anyone can add "learn Chinese" to the list of things a mother of 3 young children does, it's you, but if you choose not to, I hope you will feel the freedom to love on that baby the best way God has equipped YOUR family to. Blessings from CA.

    • Anonymous January 9, 2015 at 5:06 am

      A beautiful response! It has Truth all over it!!!!

  • Jeanie January 9, 2015 at 12:06 am

    The visit to the orphanage made me sad; however, I was glad to see how clean it was and was grateful Ashby's crib was by a window. God bless her foster parents who apparently took such good care of her. And it is so obvious that she's getting comfortable with her new family. She's a happy little girl, and I love her little smile! Oh, and I'm waaaay too old to even think about adoption!

  • Jessica Lambert January 9, 2015 at 1:01 am

    I don't know how anyone can read this post and not tear up. I'm so thankful Ashby has ya'll and I pray those sweet babies still at the orphanage get adopted.

  • Lynn {A Taste of Country} January 9, 2015 at 1:06 am

    Seeing Ashby's sweet smile warmed my heart! God bless your precious family of 5! Like some other commenters, I was also wondering about Ashby's Chinese name. Did the orphanage call her Ashby once your family started the adoption process, or did she go by another name?

  • Leigh January 9, 2015 at 1:21 am

    I am emotional just reading this so I can't begin to imagine what you felt touring her orphanage. That crib room ripped my heart right out. Ashby is perfect and her sweet little smile just makes me melt!

  • Sarah E @ theteacherswife.com January 9, 2015 at 1:27 am

    Thank you so much for giving us a peak into your adoption journey. I tear up as I read each post and the thought of all those babies is heartbreaking. Ashby is adorable!!

  • Anonymous January 9, 2015 at 1:50 am

    Ashby is so cute! Thanks for your wonderful blog and for sharing your journey with all of us.

    I agree with the other comments about allowing Ashby to continue Mandarin, just as Kensington is learning French. To whoever is talking about "giving parents advice on how to raise their kids," I'm sure that's not what the other commenters meant. Personally, I don't think it's brazen at all to suggest parents allow their children to continue with learning their native language. Y'all need to chill with the side comments. Regardless, congrats on your newest adorable addition!

  • Amber Sanders January 9, 2015 at 2:02 am

    Heartbreaking to see all those sweet babies withour parents to love them. Your family is amazing and thank you for sharing your journey with all of us. It makes me cry seeing how she has gone from timid and looking scared to trying not to smile/smile with her new family who is showing her more love than she ever knew possible. You are such an inspiration. By the way her trying not to smile face is the cutest thing ever!!

  • Anonymous January 9, 2015 at 2:16 am

    All your posts about Ashby bring a tear to my eye. After first reading your blog entry about you and your husband's will to adopt I couldn't get the idea off of my mind. Although I am not even married yet I love the idea of adoption and would love to adopt when I am older! All these precious children deserve loving families and I became so inspired by your story. God bless you and your family Shay! Love megan from Chicago xoxo

  • Anonymous January 9, 2015 at 2:38 am

    The official language at Casa Shull is obviously LOVE.

  • Anonymous January 9, 2015 at 2:51 am

    Not only is Ashby adorable I just love her little bob haircut!
    Rebecca

  • Anonymous January 9, 2015 at 3:24 am

    thanks for the updates! girl, you've made me cry with every one of your posts from china.

  • Jenna January 9, 2015 at 3:49 am

    As I read this post tonight, it struck me how God has mapped every detail of this out. I know you have blogged for years, but I am assuming your blog grew significantly when Sean was on the Bachelor and has continued to grow. And I just think — how INCREDIBLY awesome that God timed the adoption for NOW. If He had called you to adopt years ago, you would not have been able to impact HIS Kingdom on this level to care for orphans. Thank you for publicly declaring your faith and displaying your obedience. It has blessed me.

  • Pam January 9, 2015 at 4:16 am

    Thank you for sharing so openly. My heart hurts for those babies. My prayer would be the governments would make it easier to adopt all these children. Your Ashby London is a precious baby girl and that smile just brought tears to my eyes along with your story today.

  • Katie {The Mishaps & Mayhem of a Solitary Life} January 9, 2015 at 5:03 am

    I am just loving following this journey. It really is incredible. I love the sweet pictures, the girls giggles, and Ashby's beautiful smile. She's realized that life is pretty great as a Shull in this new forever family!! Take care and thanks again for sharing. Prayers and hugs to all!

  • Kate Craig January 9, 2015 at 5:05 am

    The pictures of the foster home and Momma are so sweet, and then the room with the cribs is like a punch in the gut! I can't really wrap my mind around it. Her serious face is so adorable!

  • Denise Ross January 9, 2015 at 7:15 am

    Beautiful, Ashby has such an open warm smile, when she does smile. So cute. Love the photos and facts you've put here. Pretty sad really, so many orphans. So sweet :)x

  • Anonymous January 9, 2015 at 7:15 am

    This is the first time I comment. I never really thought my comments mattered, but I thought you should know I love your blog and please never stop posting. It's something I look forward to everyday. This adoption process has brought tears to my eyes. You are such good people. What a beautiful family.

  • Anonymous January 9, 2015 at 7:29 am

    I've just recently discovered your blog and have read your testimony of how God blessed you with 2 pregnancies against all odds and now with the beautiful Ashby.

    I've been a devoted Catholic all my life, but I've been struggling personally and professionally in the past few years, which has unfortunately led me further from God than I wanted. One of my New Year's resolution was to grow in my faith.

    Stumbling onto your blog and reading about God's miraculous hand in your life gave me hope that things will always find a way of working itself out and that God has a plan for us all.

    Thank you for sharing your life with your readers. You set a good example of what a Christian life is all about, which is missing in a lot of what we read and see in the mainstream media today.

    Much love and blessings to you and your beautiful family.

    To God be all the glory!

    -A new fan from California =)

  • skmanning January 9, 2015 at 8:05 am

    Wow, what an adventure you all are on! Such a joy to see your new precious addition. It is so interesting to see her orphanage and I have to say that it is a lot nicer than I would imagine. I realize it is not the same as having a family but it did look clean and Ashby looks well cared for.

    We have four children and years ago when they were about 4 – 14 I asked a man on the pastoral staff of a big seeker church in Carrollton about adoption. This church is big on "missions" and I asked him if they might consider part of the mission budget going to people who really want to adopt but can't afford it. Quite honestly a lot of people would love to do as you are doing and go get one of those precious children but it costs A LOT of money which I am sure you totally get! He brushed me off and said, "Ah well, people here in N. Dallas spend about the same amount on new cars, vacations and such." I was dumbfounded. If we have ever had a new car, we then drive it until it is completely dead many years later. I'm driving our 2002 GMC Safari minivan for instance! My youngest is now 18! We have never been on a fancy trip but have always traveled to see our family which live far away. We honestly could not have afforded the adoption process and we didn't have parents who could have given us money for it. We could have incorporated another child into our family but not spent the thousands on adoption especially foreign adoption. I say all that to say, I wish churches would really look at helping families with these costs. I think a lot more would adopt as a result. It is probably the best way to spread the Gospel too. It would be one way to help more little Ashbys in that orphanage
    get a forever family.

  • Jen R January 9, 2015 at 11:37 am

    Her smile is just too cute!! I hope your baby boy is doing better about being the middle child. That has to be hard on mama too. I love reading about this journey of yours!
    ☼ Jen
    A Splash of Life Blog

  • Libby Gordon January 9, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    Oh Shay, congratulations to all of you! She is just ADORABLE! I am so grateful that families like yours are able to give these sweet babies a wonderful, loving and safe home. Ashby is a lucky little girl and your family is truly blessed:)

  • Jen January 9, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    Thank you for sharing. I've read this post over and over. I cannot get over how large the orphanage is. I never pictured high-rise buildings with floors of children without homes. I'm sending the link to my husband. I hope we can do something!

  • Anonymous January 9, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    I truly love coming to your blog every morning. It's so refreshing reading from a Godly woman who is real and down to earth. God Bless you and your family. Ashby is blessed to be apart of it. I Love seeing her progress and smiles as the week goes on. Can't wait to watch her grow, God Bless you all.

    Kim from Birmingham AL ~ Roll Tide

  • Jessica January 9, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    I'm a new reader to your blog (found you from the Kelly's Korner blog) and love reading about your sweet family. It's so amazing to see how Ashby is opening up to you and you can tell from her photos she is more lighthearted and contented as the days go by. I'll be praying all goes will for and with her and for Kensington and Smith as well. What an amazing view you have – being adopted sons and daughters of the Lord going through the adoption process yourself. I'll also pray that God would use this experience to show you all his great love and compassion. The way you feel about Ashby is how he feels about each one of us. All the best to you!

  • Minnesota Girl January 9, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    Amazing story! My husband (who is also a SF Agent) is interested in adopting. We have one child (1) and one on the way. I've thought after two, I want to be done, but honestly, this post is making me cry and realize we have the capacity to do this. Thank you for opening my eyes to this.

    xoxo

  • Lacy McMurry January 9, 2015 at 7:53 pm

    I have loved watching your story unfold. It has truly warmed my heart. God bless you & your family!

  • Burnett Family January 9, 2015 at 11:23 pm

    What are you doing about Kensington missing school? Hopefully, they are being understanding.

  • Steph January 10, 2015 at 12:30 am

    Thank you for sharing your story. What a blessing for you all.

  • AmyJo January 10, 2015 at 6:00 am

    Love the picture with you and the girls… You are glowing and I can tell over the moon. I've been in foster homes but I've never seen anything like that baby room. I have so many emotions looking at all those cribs and all those sweet babies. I'm so glad Ashby had great people taking care of her until you guys could get her. And I'm glad she's with her family now! Thank you for sharing. As I read these posts I picture Ashby in your lap one day and you telling her "her story" and how God brought you all together.

  • Anonymous January 11, 2015 at 12:30 am

    Hi Shy,

    I love reading your blogs everyday. Just so people realize where you are is 12-14 hours ahead of the USA so as your write your blogs we are asleep. We when get up your getting ready for bed. Also you have been having busy days since you been there. Your blog time must be when the kids are asleep. I admire everything your family is going through to get this adoption of Ashby finalized. Once on your way back here you will probably get everything together to do what you have to do to get Ashby situated here. Also what are Smith and Kensington doing about missing school? Are they doing any homework away to bring back with them? Probably not that important since they are getting quite an education abroad as they travel and that is priceless. One vacation story from Kensington should cover it. Continued thoughts and prayers go out to the Shull 5.

  • Elizabeth Birenbaum January 11, 2015 at 12:30 am

    Ashby is one lucky girl to have parents and siblings as amazing as you all. You can see the love you all have for her. Your posts makes me SO happy that she has found someone to love her and take care of her for the rest of her life.

    I don't know if you have addressed it already or not, but once the orphanage found out that you would be adopting her and that her name would be Ashby, did they start referring to her as Ashby? I think I remember reading that you wanted to name her that, not that that was her name already, so I'm just curious how the whole name thing went and how she transitioned to her new name.

  • Anonymous January 11, 2015 at 9:33 pm

    I am so touched by your story. Thank you for sharing everything. You are making a difference and I think that is amazing. I think I feel connected to this post in particular because my grandfather was the attorney for all the Japanese orphans that came about following WWII. Not sure if you are familiar with the Elizabeth Saunders Home? It was run by an heiress of the Mitsubishi family. She worked, housed, and found loving families for the Japanese babies conceived, born, and abandoned during WWII. My mother tells me stories of these orphans and there are pictures of my grandparents flying with these young orphans to the US to be adopted. It's all very interesting to me and I just love to hear your experience. Again, thank you so much for sharing. There is nothing better you can do then to bring awareness. <3

  • Anonymous January 12, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    i just can't help but think about all the children here in the USA that need homes and are sitting in foster homes and orphanages, and likely down the road in Dallas. That breaks my heart, y'all.

  • Brittany August 25, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    My name is Brittany and I too was adopted from china. I’m 20 years old now and my family and I recently went back for a heritage tour sponsored by cccwa. Through the tour I was able to visit all the same cities that you and your family visited. I know Ashby is very young now, but as an adopted child I cannot stress enough how meaningful it was to go back to see where I came from. When she is older I highly recommend going back to visit. It’s amazing how much will have changed. My parents told me when we went back how much it has changed since they got me and I’m sure it will continue to grow. Thanks for sharing your story. I know how personal it can be.