The Road to Madeley

Hey there Tuesday :).

Many of you have asked about how we got our sweet Madeley, so I thought today, I would explain.  I’m grateful that you’re asking because I know for many of you that means you’re considering adoption which just blesses my soul more than you will ever know.  Some very specific people adopted before me that I learned from, leaned on, questioned, and was loved by that encouraged us during our process…so I know how important it is to hear other people’s stories.  Before we adopted Ashby, I couldn’t get enough adoption stories.  So, here is a little glimpse at our journey.

(Before we begin, a disclaimer of sorts: this is only our experience with our two adoptions.  I know every single adoption is completely different and experiences vary so much.  I wish I could answer questions/explain more clearly all adoptions…but I can only speak from my personal experience.  Please keep this in mind 🙂 ).

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So before we begin, I’ll recap Ashby’s adoption process:

June 2013: We contacted an adoption agency and began the paperwork.

December 2013: We submitted our completed dossier (which is all of that paperwork including your home study) to China.  At this point, we were waiting for a referral (a.k.a. a match with a kiddo).

July 2014: We received a referral on a precious little girl and just knew in our hearts that she was the one.

December 2014: We received our letter from China allowing us to travel and a consulate date was scheduled for the beginning of January.

January 4, 2015: We met sweet Ashby London.

January 15, 2015: We returned home with Ashby.

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So, we arrived home with Ashby on January 15, 2015 and even though it sounded crazy, we really felt God telling us to move forward with the next adoption.  Before going to get Ashby, we had always talked about getting a girl from China and a boy from India.  There is one particular orphanage in India that we were interested in adopting from and had discussed it with them and just kind of saw ourselves with two boys and two girls.  We kept thinking we should wait to adopt again, but really felt God prompting our hearts to move forward.  So…

…in March 2015, we just set out to adopt a little boy from India.  Listen, I know it sounds crazy but you know when God slams doors shut?  Sometimes, he doesn’t make it obvious but then other times, you can almost hear the slam and feel the whoosh as it’s shutting…well that is what happened.  Every time we attempted to move forward with this adoption, God shut the door.  I was praying about it a lot and really felt God calling us back to China to get another girl.  Early one morning, I mentioned this to Andrew and he was like “me too!”.  (Which was weird because we had never discussed two girls from China before.)  So, we kept praying about it and really felt a peace.  We reached back out to our adoption agency and said we were ready to move forward with another Chinese girl.  We had to start all over.  From square one.

We submitted our completed dossier to China (again!) on October 1, 2015.  And then we waited.

In January 2016, we got a referral on a beautiful little girl from China.  We instantly fell in love with her…and bonus, she was from Ashby’s orphanage.  I mean…people asked me all the time if we were going to try and get one from the same orphanage and I always said no.  The odds aren’t very good unless you’re working with an agency that has a specific relationship with that orphanage and we weren’t.  We really didn’t think much about it.  But this little girl had been there when Ashby was there.  We just knew God arranged this divine intervention.  Unfortunately, things began unraveling faster than we could keep up.  We had her secured but one thing after another kept happening and every time we thought we were moving forward, we moved back instead.  On January 18, Smith’s birthday, we officially knew we weren’t going to be able to get this little girl.  We had taken Smith and his friends to the Perot Museum for his birthday and even though we were trying to make it a fun day, it was really sad.  In the car on the way down there, Erika called to check on me and said something that was very profound.  She told me that God isn’t mean.  He doesn’t tease us with things just to be mean about it.  For some reason, God brought this little girl into our lives for a moment and it wasn’t for nothing.  I clung to that nugget of wisdom as we moved forward.

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Trying our darnedest to have a good time at the Perot Museum.  Love this guy so much.  I’m so thankful God has me walking down the road of life with him.

That little girl wasn’t meant to be ours…and I know that now.  Andrew and I each keep a picture of her and pray for her.  My prayer is that right now, she’s found her forever family and is as happy as can be.

So…we waited some more.  And some more.  And then in March 2016…we got another referral on another little girl.  We were pumped!  We signed our letter of intent and thought it was a done deal.  And then…the next day, our agency called us to say that China had removed her from the list.  What?  Why?  They said it was all very sketchy.  They never really got a clear answer…someone told them it was because they thought she had a syndrome that they wanted tested (We offered to her her tested!  We were totally open to this syndrome!)…and then someone else eluded to the fact that she was “too healthy”.  For the most part, healthy Chinese kids aren’t allowed to be adopted out of country…so that was another reason.  They might have pulled her because she was too healthy.  We’ll never know.  We never got a straight answer.  She kind of just disappeared.

Boo.  Adopting can wear you out friends.

So, at this point, I just couldn’t shake what Erika had said to me about the first little girl back in January.  She was just on my heart and even though, I couldn’t have her…I felt so compelled by her referral that I started reaching out to people about finding another little girl from Ashby’s orphanage.  I kept thinking, maybe that’s why she’s on my heart?  Maybe we should adopt from that orphanage again?  I just knew there was something about that referral we were supposed to act on.  So…in the process of trying to figure out if there were any girls available from Ashby’s orphanage, Andrew came across a lady from another adoption agency who said that she could look into Ashby’s orphanage and one other one for us.  She told us that even though she has a large adoption agency, she didn’t have any other clients wanting little Chinese girls with completed dossiers (and remember, at this point, ours has been completed for almost 7 months)…she said she had people working on their dossiers or they wanted boys, etc.  She told us she was going to China and would be visiting both orphanages and would let us know if there were any girls available.  So, we waited.  First, she visited Ashby’s orphanage and told us no, there were not any girls there that were available.  But then she traveled to a completely different part of China and visited another orphanage and she sent us a little video of a precious little girl and said, I think I might have found her.  And friends, SHE DID!  She was able to send us this little girl’s file along with two videos and we were completely smitten. So…

…this meant we had to pay a fee and change adoption agencies.  And I cried.

I did not want to change agencies.  I loved our agency and did not want to lose them.  That being said, there really is no choice because this particular orphanage has a relationship with this other agency and well, that’s just how it works.  After adoption, you still have five years of post-placement paperwork and visits to deal with, so I also knew that I didn’t want to burn any bridges with our current agency…because we had another four years of working with them with Ashby’s adoption.  I was so torn.  Andrew and I called our agency and they could not have been more gracious.  They absolutely wanted us moving forward with this little girl and therefore switching agencies.  They were so sweet about it.  We had to pay fees to switch agencies and more paperwork had to be completed and approved by China, but in the end, we moved over to our new agency and our referral :).

So…we spent the summer waiting it out.  We were waiting on China to grant us travel approval and all estimates pointed to September.  On September 2, we received travel approval from China and then departed on the 8th.

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The day before we departed.

And then on September 11

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…we finally met our girl :).

All of those months ago, Erika had been right.  God gave us that referral not to be mean but to get us on a path we otherwise never would have gotten on.  We needed to start searching in one direction in order to meet this other lady who got us to our Madeley.  It was divine intervention.

Now, years ago when we started this process, I really felt God tell me to be discreet about our agency.  I didn’t know why, but I always felt that our agency information should remain private and therefore, I do not share who our adoption agency is.  But now…I think I understand.  Now that I’ve worked with two agencies, I feel like I can say pros and cons about each and that might be helpful to you but at the same time, I am respecting each of them without naming names.  Walking away from both adoptions, I enjoyed the process more with one agency than the other…but there were pros and cons to both:

1: Our original agency is smaller.  I would consider it more of a boutique agency.  I like this because everyone knows everyone and you always feel like when you call, they can help you, remember you, know all about you.  Our newer agency is very large, and I don’t get the same kind of warm fuzzies when I call or email them.  The other day, we needed to have a conference call with them and the lady started out with “now, you guys have twins in third grade, right?”.  No.  No, we don’t.

2: Our newer agency is larger so they have access to more kids.  Plain and simple…the bigger the agency, typically, the more relationships they have with orphanages over in China.  They have more resources and more relationships.

3: Our first agency did more of the paperwork for us after the dossier was submitted where our new agency did most of it…but not all of it.  Now, this is a sliding scale.  Some of my friends have agencies that do very little and require the parents to handle more paperwork (like applying for the I800 and submitting the dossier).  You pay them all about the same amount of money…so, I liked that the first agency completed more paperwork on my behalf.  Because let’s be real…that paperwork is tricky and you do not want to mess it up!

4: I just honestly had a very nice relationship, vibe going with the first agency.  It felt very personal.

5: The second agency made us do stuff on top of what is actually required to adopt.  I mean…the process is insane, so why they would pile more frivolous stuff on top of you (that means absolutely nothing!) is crazy to me.

6: The first agency was more organized with the travel and pick up process.  Everything was so organized before we left to get Ashby and everything was not as neat and tidy when we left to get Madeley.  Andrew actually got out our travel docs with Ashby and copied them exactly for Madeley.  Our new agency did a fine job with travel, but I think our previous agency did a spectacular job.

Now, several random things to note:

1: Our social worker did not enjoy working with the first agency and loves the second one.  She told me I was crazy and the second one was much better.  So, clearly…it’s all very subjective.

2: We met another family in China who coincidentally also used our new agency and they switched to the new one because it was so much more personal than their original one.  When I told them I had the exact opposite experience, they were shocked.  So, you see…different perspectives, different experiences, and different agencies do it all differently.

3: Both of our agencies are outside of Texas.  Your home study must be completed by your state but your adoption agency can be out of state.

4: We basically paid the exact same for each adoption (minus the fee to switch agencies…that added to the cost of Madeley’s adoption).

5: Speaking of money, one of the most asked questions is “how much does it cost?”.  I always have a hard time wording this because I never want to discourage adoption in any way…but I know money is a huge factor.  From my interactions now with two agencies, two adoptions, and a whole host of friends who have adopted from China, I would say anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000ish.  The fees to adopt are a small portion of that.  The two biggest things your money goes toward are your orphanage donation (they ask you to make a donation to the orphanage…but they tell you how much this donation is) and your travel expenses.  Other than those two things, the rest of the cost is spread out over time and asked for in small increments.

When people ask me who they should use to adopt, I always say the same things: Ask around.  Ask on Facebook (you’d be surprised how many of your FB friends can help you find a good adoption agency), call around and talk to the agencies.  The process will be about the same for every agency, so look for one where you feel good talking to them on the phone BECAUSE YOU WILL TALK TO THEM A LOT!  And pray.  In my heart, I believe if you’re supposed to adopt, God will point you in the right direction whether you realize it or not.  Many of my friends have set out with one thing in mind and ended up somewhere else because the path just went that way.  I’m a big believer in moving and then letting God move the pieces around you (it’s harder for God to work if you’re just standing still!  Not impossible, but geez, it must help God so much when we move.).

Whew!  More information than you probably ever wanted to know.  But…for those of you thinking about adopting from China, this was our experience.  I also get asked a lot about why we chose China over say a domestic adoption?  And my only answer is that God told us to.  I’m a huge fan of both domestic and international adoptions and was (am) open to any of them…but for these two adoptions, God made it clear that we were to  go to China and get two girls.  Is Madeley our last?  I don’t know.  We’re most definitely done having biological kids, but I don’t know if we’re done adopting…we’re still waiting and listening to God’s direction for our family.

Okay…on a much lighter note…

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…tomorrow is What’s Up Wednesday!  If you’re linking up with up, our bonus question is: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FALL RECIPE?  I have a few faves 😉 .

See you tomorrow!

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  • Holly Caughley September 27, 2016 at 4:50 am

    Hi Shay,
    I started following your journey all the way back when you adopted Ashby. I stumbled across your Instagram all the way over on the other side of the world in New Zealand! We don’t have bloggers like you here (so wished we did!!). I have worked out what time you tend to post in NZ time (10.30pm) and can’t wait for them each time! You are doing such a fantastic job! Sending loads of congrats from over here on the new addition!!

  • Erika Slaughter September 27, 2016 at 5:17 am

    What a journey it has been for you guys! Through lots of tears and heartache, you finally made it to your girl. So thankful you two were walking by faith. Love you guys! XOXO

  • Dayme September 27, 2016 at 5:36 am

    Shay – I’m so intrigued and loved reading this. Madeley is adorable and I’m so happy she now has an amazing God loving family. Congrats and thanks for sharing!

  • Sheaffer September 27, 2016 at 5:54 am

    Great post! I wish we knew how many people were lead to adoption specifically because of your stories!

    • Melanie September 27, 2016 at 12:30 pm

      At least one 🙂 !

    • Laura B September 29, 2016 at 6:38 am

      We will know when we all get to heaven!!

  • Melissa September 27, 2016 at 6:07 am

    What a beautiful journey! I just love reading this blog and your process. So inspiring! If you ever decide you want to adopt another child please keep in mind Colombia. I grew up there and there are so many children in need.

  • Liz Even September 27, 2016 at 6:11 am

    Shay, such a beautiful God story. I can’t help but share it with people. So excited for your family. Family is amazing. Xoxo

  • jamie September 27, 2016 at 6:16 am

    i so love reading about your beautiful unique adoption journey for both girls. my heart just loves a beautiful forever family. i also love seeing the differences in adoptions from different countries, such huge differences. today i will absolutely be writing down erika’s nugget of wisdom because, honestly, i had to pause and ponder. that little nugget will save hearts today as they read those words. you are a beautiful soul, shay. i love how you listen for the holy spirit’s whisper every step in your life. it truly is an inspiration, a beautiful godly example, for me to listen more.

  • Holly Hopkins September 27, 2016 at 6:23 am

    This is so informative! I will admit I was shocked by the cost but I can tell it is so worth it. Thank you for sharing!

  • Narci September 27, 2016 at 6:25 am

    Just beautiful!!! Your story is just amazing and such a blessing to me! Xoxo

  • Melissa September 27, 2016 at 6:28 am

    This might be my very favorite post! It’s completely evident that when you commit your life to the Lord he will make your paths straight! It’s inspiring and encouraging to see your obedience in this entire adoption process, both times! Madeley is one little blessed baby girl!

  • Sarah Eddins September 27, 2016 at 6:29 am

    Thanks so much for sharing! What a beautiful testimony of God’s leading!! 🙂

  • Megan September 27, 2016 at 6:43 am

    Thanks for sharing all the fun and not so fun details. I just couldn’t love your adoption story anymore. God is good.

  • Megan September 27, 2016 at 6:49 am

    I love hearing that so many people are reaching out with questions! We LOVED our adoption agency and felt like we had a very personal experience even though it is one of the larger China agencies. We were definitely not a fan of our home study agency (Ugh!). It’s so interesting to hear all of the different perspectives. Choosing an agency is hard. But all of our kiddos are worth the wait! Thank you for being a great advocate!!

  • Marsha September 27, 2016 at 6:52 am

    We received a referral on a little boy that ultimately we turned down. It broke our hearts but I believe that hiccup in our journey was so that little boy could find his family and our little boy could come home to us. Without the hiccup our little boys referral would have been given to someone else. God’s timing is always perfect. Blessings and prayers as you all adjust back here at home. I love your story!

  • Rosemary Vo September 27, 2016 at 6:52 am

    My eyes just well up with tears looking at Madeley’s sweet face. She deserved this chance in life and I know this was God’s plan for her. I can’t wait to see her smile and flourish. God bless you, Madeley. Way to go mama!

  • Katherine Darlington September 27, 2016 at 7:01 am

    Congratulations on your new addition. She is precious. Did you start preparing your home for another child when you started the adoption process, like did you prepare a bedroom and buy clothing for the little girls you didn’t get to adopt?

    • Mix and Match Mama September 27, 2016 at 7:02 am

      We started preparing our home last October, so yeah, it was ready for the other two girls.

  • Lindsey September 27, 2016 at 7:17 am

    We adopted our son and I truly feel more blessed than I ever thought possible. You are right, God isn’t mean, he just puts you on paths you would have maybe never explored and helps you find what is meant to be. Every time I look into my son’s eyes, I know he is what we were waiting for all along and our little family was truly meant to be. I love following your adoption journey! It makes my heart smile that you are using your platform to promote adoption, you may never know how many lives you are enriching and touching!

  • Katie Williams September 27, 2016 at 7:27 am

    Thank you for sharing more about the process, it’s very helpful for those like my husband and me who are considering adoption in the face of infertility. There are so many logistics and I know many are private, so thank you for giving us a glimpse into the process and journey for your family. God is so good and His hand was in all of the details that led you to Madeley.

  • Kristen Creel September 27, 2016 at 7:28 am

    Only God can make something so beautiful! I started reading your blog a few years ago when we started our adoption journey here in Texas and it’s been so encouraging to me! Thank you for sharing your amazing story with the world! Welcome home precious Madeley!

  • Laci Murray September 27, 2016 at 7:31 am

    I love your adoption stories! I love that two little girls now have a forever home and you were the hands and feet of Jesus! Would love to see Madeley’s new room!! She is such a doll baby, those cheeks!!! :))

  • Kate September 27, 2016 at 7:34 am

    I am just in awe of your story and heart for adoption. Shay- it’s amazing. I tear up each time I read more on your adoption stories. Love it.

  • Jess Deisher September 27, 2016 at 7:48 am

    Congratulations again! xoxo

  • Kelly September 27, 2016 at 7:55 am

    All I can say is WOW!
    (And congratulations! )

  • heidi September 27, 2016 at 7:55 am

    What an amazing post, God really did guide you.
    You have such a beautiful family xo

  • Katie September 27, 2016 at 7:57 am

    Your stories of adoption and your willingness to get up and do what the Lord has called you to do has placed it on my heart to find His plans for my own life and the life of my family. In church on Sunday, the sermon just verified what has been placed on my heart, and I cried and cried thinking of your sweet family and your amazing hearts for the Lord and your adopted children. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. It has changed me in so many positive ways. ????

  • Alicia September 27, 2016 at 8:08 am

    Oh, this adoption journey. It is not easy and simple, that is for sure! I loved all this information. It is always so helpful for us. I hold on to it, trying to remember all the tips for when our time comes. We looked at your first agency, but was led to another. I wonder if they are now the same?!
    If you could, would you pray for our adoption funding? We are father behind than we though and have a large, looming amount due that only God will be able to provide for. We are praying (and working like crazy) but yet trusting that God will provide. Thanks for you advocating adoption!

  • Pamela Garrett September 27, 2016 at 8:24 am

    You and your family make my heart happy! I hope you adopt 100 more kids as I just love knowing that they would all go to a loving and Christ serving home! My family has been praying for yours! Madeley as well as your other 3 kiddos is beautiful. AND by the way, I LOVE your new cookbook.

  • Annalisa September 27, 2016 at 8:26 am

    I love all your adoption stories and have sense starting talking to my husband on his thoughts of adopting in our future. I just have a question when you say ” there were not any girls there that were available”. With hundreds of kids needing to be adopted out, did that just mean there wasn’t any girls there at the time that fit in what you were looking for based on age, gender, and physical development? Or do the girls have to be there for so long before they can be adopted out and ready for a home? Thank you for all your wonderful stories!

    • Mix and Match Mama September 27, 2016 at 8:52 am

      Actually, Ashby’s orphanage was holding on to their girls for government funding. If they released anymore girls, apparently, they would lose some funding. We were told they were waiting to receive more girls to offset any that would be adopted out.

  • megan jeffries September 27, 2016 at 8:27 am

    Love reading about your family! My best friend adopted domestically out of the foster system, she started as a foster mom and then was able to adopt. I think this is a great option for people who want to adopt but financially aren’t able to pay the $20-30k. There are thousands of children in the foster care system wanting and needing forever homes. As Christians we are called to care for orphans, near and far! Your children are adorable, love the blog!

  • chelsea jacobs September 27, 2016 at 8:29 am

    This was so informative! Thanks for putting all of this together!

  • Carol September 27, 2016 at 8:36 am

    Good Morning! Congratulations on your new little one, she is beautiful! As a mom of 4, two by birth and two by adoption, I would add one thing. Back when we adopted, agencies who handled domestic and foreign adoptions would hold seminars that were free to anyone interested in adopting. This also gave people a chance to hear what criteria was required for different countries. I would also add that it is so true that God will lead you in the direction you should go. God Bless!

  • Lynn September 27, 2016 at 8:44 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey. I have often felt led to adoption, but my husband feels otherwise. I will keep on praying!

  • Mary C September 27, 2016 at 9:13 am

    I LOVE that September 11th is the day you met her!! That such a sad day, it is great to hear a positive story tied to that date 🙂

  • Michelle September 27, 2016 at 9:23 am

    Shay, thank you for sharing your experiences. Adoption is so interesting to me. I would love to adopt some day, but the part that scares me the most is the traveling! I wish some one could go to China for me and bring home a child meant for us 😉 I do have to politely disagree with you on one thing: God does not need our help. We are totally depraved and cannot do any good apart from the grace He works in our hearts. He is almighty and all powerful and has our every step planned from eternity. He directs our steps, and what we do is because He planned it. We cannot upset His plan. He ordained your agency switch before your days began, perhaps to remind you and us along the way that He is in control, not us. All your children are beautiful and I cannot wait to see more pics!

    • Mix and Match Mama September 27, 2016 at 12:27 pm

      Of course He doesn’t! But don’t you notice how when people move, God does too? The Bible is very specific that God calls us to both be still and to move into action. If you’ve been still for a while and still don’t see God at work, moving will often open many doors.

      • Tonya September 27, 2016 at 3:23 pm

        I wish I would have learned this lesson sooner in life. I have spent so much time waiting on God. The waiting was not wasted because I gained a lot while waiting because God is gracious. However, once I learned to move forward with even just a tiny bit of light, I have been blown away with how God moves, guides, and directs! It is an incredible and awesome journey!

  • Kayla September 27, 2016 at 9:24 am

    Love, love, love this post! Thank you so much for sharing. Since you announced you were adopting Madeley, I have felt like I needed to start praying about adopting little girls from China. My husband and I know we want to adopt, but we had never considered China. Even reading all of your updates about Ashby, I was SO happy for you, but I didn’t make me think anything different about our adoption plans. God really does work in mysterious ways. I appreciate the information you share and your heart to follow God’s leading. Never know where it will lead!

  • Jessamyn September 27, 2016 at 9:52 am

    Our best friends just had a failed adoption and it has been very hard. I’m so sorry you all had to go through that twice! Praise God for how he gives us wise friends to speak truth and kindness to us. God obviously knew what he was doing and in hindsight I know you’re happy with how he orchestrated everything though. Praying for your adjustment into your new normal! <3

  • Angela Ellingson September 27, 2016 at 9:53 am

    I am so proud of you and Andrew! I love getting to follow along with your journey!

  • Alexis deZayas September 27, 2016 at 9:54 am

    You share your story so beautifully Shay! Can’t wait to see what God has in store for Madeley and your sweet family! 🙂

  • April Parrish September 27, 2016 at 10:03 am

    Love reading about this journey God brought you through!!! Blessings and prayers in your days ahead with Miss Madeley!!!

  • cassie {hi sugarplum} September 27, 2016 at 10:04 am

    Love this post, and your sweet story! and how wise is that Erika Slaughter?!?!?! I think I’ll file that nugget away for most everything in my own life, too! 😉 xoxoxo

  • Jenny September 27, 2016 at 10:12 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your adoption stories. I never get tired of reading them. I can’t wait to hear how Madeley is adjusting to being home.

  • Thu September 27, 2016 at 10:27 am

    Shay,
    I think this is so beautiful. Every time I read one of your posts regarding your personal life, it’s inspires me one way or another. You have such a bright and joyful face so I love seeing your hair pulled back! Such a beautiful family, love this.

  • Rachel September 27, 2016 at 11:08 am

    What is Madeley’s special need? She’s so precious!

    • Mix and Match Mama September 27, 2016 at 12:25 pm

      We’ve been to one doctor appointment since returning home, but we have three more appointments over the next two weeks. I would rather find out all of the details before I share anything.

  • Lindsay D. September 27, 2016 at 11:22 am

    Thanks for sharing all of this! I love your blog so much!! It’s such a blessing to me on so many different levels!!

  • stephanie September 27, 2016 at 11:34 am

    Thank you so much! I definitely have adoption on my heart…down the road…so I love reading about your journey! Thank you for sharing both the logistical info and the way God has moved in your life

  • Kaylee September 27, 2016 at 11:36 am

    Thanks for sharing such specific information. It helps. I hope to adopt someday, and seeing your experiences has made me want to expand my horizons of what I’d consider (like special needs/health conditions, China, etc.) I love seeing your family, and am so excited for your entire family! Praying the transition to 4 kids goes well for all of you, and that Madeley is able to transition well as well. 🙂 CONGRATS!

  • Hanna September 27, 2016 at 11:48 am

    Words cannot express just how thankful I am for everything you’ve shared about adoption! Through your stories and prayers, my husband and I feel called to adopt! Just yesterday it hit me that I should start praying for our future adopted kiddos and their bio parents and it about brought me to tears. Thanks again!

  • Bailey Bryant September 27, 2016 at 11:57 am

    So, when are you writing a book? Memoir? You have a way with telling your life stories. Thanks for opening up your heart, home and overall life to the outside world!!

  • Anna September 27, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    This was inspiring to read. Your Madely is PRECIOUS. All your children are. I don’t quite understand why you don’t feel led to share your agency(s) – is it because you’re worried too many people will use it, and reduce your chances of being able to use it again?

    • Mix and Match Mama September 27, 2016 at 12:24 pm

      No, because I was just kind of negative about both of them and it wouldn’t be right to put them in a negative light. I would hate to do that to any business.

      • Anna September 27, 2016 at 12:45 pm

        Ahh, that makes sense. Thanks.

      • Shan September 28, 2016 at 3:14 pm

        I have the utmost respect for you. This speaks volumes of your character!

  • Jami September 27, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    This makes my heart so happy! I also have two biological children and we adopted our 3rd via domestic adoption! We had two failed adoptions before our little Kyson was born! I always tried to understand “this is God’s plan”, but I was beginning to get frustrated and not understand the “whys”…until our little Kyson was placed in my arms…then I understood! He’s now almost 2 1/2 and we are starting again! The process is painful, stressful, scary, but in the end…totally worth it! A lot like pregnancy! Thank you for sharing your story!

  • Caitlin September 27, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    Your children always look so put together after long flights in your travel photos! Besides being so impressed, I was also wondering if you would share some of your traveling tips for overseas trips with littles sometime. We are taking our two year old to China in December and I’m curious about how to survive long flights and jet lag! You seem to have it figured out! Thank you for taking us on your family’s journey with you!

    • Mix and Match Mama September 27, 2016 at 1:12 pm

      Oh gosh! I’m not sure I have it figured out. It’s almost been a week and we’re still tired! For me, the key is not sleeping during the day and then for my kids, short naps instead of long ones (because a long nap will make it hard to sleep that night). As for the flight, it’s just survival of the fittest. Movies, small toys, snacks and prayers get us through it :).

  • Melissa September 27, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    Love this! Thank you for going into details! Might be helpful down the road 😉

  • Amy September 27, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    What I love about this post is the look on Ashby’s face in your first pj photo with her. Very blank. Then look at the photo with Madeley – same look Ashby had, but Ashby is right there next to her with the sweetest, happy, settled, look. Madeley will probably have that same look soon. Congrats to you all. I so enjoy your blog! When I visit my Brother and SIL in McKinney I keep an eye out for you! I’ll introduce myself if I ever see you!

  • Jessica September 27, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    Thank you so much for this post!! Adoption is one of those things my husband and I just can’t put aside and while we don’t feel like it is something we are quite ready for, we do feel a strong prompting that at some point in the near (ish) future we will be called to make a home for a sweet child that needs one. This was super informative and just such a beautiful story!

  • Teri September 27, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    Hi Shay, you and your family are truely amazing-you touch my heart each time I read your posts. I have been following your blog for some years now – all the way from South Africa! Thanks for sharing and being such amazing role models-I pray for blessings upon your family as you journey through this new adoption. I am looking at starting a family with my husband in the near future and I pray to God that we can have the love, happiness and strong fellowship in our family that you have strongly laid down in yours. Have a great week.

  • Carol September 27, 2016 at 3:40 pm

    I wish I knew how to make adoption feasible for our family! The cost is out of reach for us, although I’ve felt called to adopt for years. Any wisdom for those of us that just don’t have that kind of money?

    • Mix and Match Mama September 28, 2016 at 4:29 am

      I know so many people who raise the money through fundraisers and donations. Also, many employers offer money for adoptions to employees too. I am a big believer that if God is calling you to do it, He will provide the money.

  • Brooke Retherford September 27, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    Hey Shay – I hope this question isn’t annoying, but would you mind sharing the stroller you guys use for traveling? I see you guys use it all the time and with our first baby on the way I am looking for something that’s good for travel! Thank you!

  • Whitney Pegram September 27, 2016 at 5:11 pm

    Such a beautiful story!! ???? And what a sweet friend Erika is!!

  • Kathy September 27, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    Thank you for sharing this journey and your beautiful family. Madely is just adorable, hopefully you all have recovered from the jet lag! May God continue to bless you and your family.

  • Jeanie September 27, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    All I can say is, “Wow!”

  • Elise Welch September 27, 2016 at 6:23 pm

    I have loved following along on your journey! Adoption is something that I would love to do when I get married. God is SO good!! God bless your family:)

  • Denise Ross September 27, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    Dear Shay
    Love following your life journey with your family and adoptions. God is always with us through the muddle and mix if we move with Him. Inspired by what you write, prayers for you and your family. God bless you and keep you

  • Sara September 27, 2016 at 7:31 pm

    I truly love reading these stories of God’s work and redemption through adoption! God is so deserving of our wonder, it is just awesome to me how He orchestrated this story of your family! I so agree with you, that when we feel stuck we need to just get moving and watch for where God is leading. And I have to say, I’m super impressed with how you are able to listen to the Spirit’s prompting where discretion is concerned…it must be so hard to balance what details you share with what stays private when you are writing a popular blog. I am always encouraged reading your blog, thank you so much for sharing with us!

  • Marty September 27, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    Love this post so much. Madeley is precious!

  • Betsy September 27, 2016 at 8:42 pm

    We adopted our little boy domesticallly. I love adoption and I’m so thankful for it. One thing I would say to do if adopting domestically, is to research the adoption laws of the state you are adopting in. The state we adopted in didn’t have a cap on living expenses, so we paid 6 months before our son was born (from being matched) and 6 months after. We also had to stay in the state he was born for 14 days after the birth mother signed due to not being able to cross state lines. Adoption is so hard, but so worth it! You have a precious family!

  • Michelle BeVelle September 27, 2016 at 8:50 pm

    I couldn’t read you blog this morning so I’m catching up now. But Shay, I just have to say your faith really inspires me. Inspires me to be a better person, a better mother, and become even closer to God. I just want to thank you for that. Truly, you are a wonderful, inspiring person.

  • Sharon Sykes September 27, 2016 at 10:13 pm

    We brought home our little girl from China last October, 2015. Friends who knew we were in the process adopting, directed us to your blog b/c we also live in DFW, have two bio kids, are believers, etc… I just wanted to know that reading through your path to Ashby, including Andrew’s post, really helped and encouraged us. My husband was on board and then got off board, but reading your Andrew’s post (my husband is Andy) really spoke to him and helped him get back on the adoption train. Of course, getting our daughter’s file, sealed the deal and he was smitten :-). Anyways, I just wanted you to know that you have been an encouragement to others. Btw, we used Gladney and LOVE them! Congrats on your new addition!

  • Sharon Sykes September 27, 2016 at 10:15 pm

    Also, maybe you can tell people that they get $13k back on their tax return once they adopt, so that makes it a lot cheaper! And if either of you work for a large company, that company might have an adoption benefit. My husband’s company had an adoption benefit of $10k. So we were left pretty much only paying for our travel!

  • Traci September 27, 2016 at 10:38 pm

    Hi Shay! I have just found your website recently and what an amazing family you have. You have such a giving heart and it comes through in every single thing you do. My husband and I dealt with infertility and we have an almost 15 year old daughter that we were blessed to conceive through IVF. We also lost a late pregnancy and after that it was either adopt or be content. Adoption was always an option but after IVF, the budget was shot. I so wish we were able to bring a child (or 2) into our family through adoption and now, for various reasons, it is just not something that we can do. Your stories bring me such joy and your faith and walk with God is such a testament to what can happen when He is at the center of your life. Bless you for giving these two sweet girls a life they may otherwise never have had. I pray everyday that every single child can experience what the love of a family feels like. Enjoy getting to know your newest baby girl. Blessings from Oregon!

  • Tracy September 28, 2016 at 8:10 am

    Love, love, love these types of posts! Madeley is so precious and I can’t wait to see how she blossoms over the next few months. Your big kiddos look so proud with their new baby sister. 🙂

  • Diane September 28, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    Your story is so beautiful and fascinating, I am loving following along. Can you elaborate more on the “door slamming in your face” in regards to adopting an Indian boy? In what way were the signs and/or detractors?

  • Jeanette September 28, 2016 at 6:57 pm

    Loved reading your beautiful adoption story! You have a beautiful family and Madeley is a lucky little girl to be a Shull! I hope you post about how Madeley and the other kiddos are adjusting. God bless you all!

  • Allison October 1, 2016 at 9:50 am

    I love hearing your journey! It is so interesting hearing other adoptive parents’ perspectives. We are with a VERY large agency that has over a dozen partnerships in China, and yet it has always felt SO personal. We are waiting on TA for our son who is in Zhejiang province and hope to travel next month. Praying for a smooth transition for you six!

  • Lauren Preusz October 12, 2016 at 6:38 am

    Shay- my husband and I are beginning the adoption process and our hearts have always been for China. We have wanted to do this since before we got married, and have been praying about timing. 6 years and 2 kids later, God has told us it’s time 🙂 we are just beginning the process and it’s quite overwhelming. I really don’t have anyone to refer to, and would love to ask you a few questions. What agency you worked with, etc. I know you’re a busy mama, but if there’s any way you can answer a few questions I would be so grateful!!

    • Mix and Match Mama October 12, 2016 at 6:57 am

      I’d be happy to answer some questions! Email me! mixandmatchmama@yahoo.com 🙂

  • Ashley October 14, 2016 at 9:36 pm

    Thank you for your willingness to be so open and share your adoption journey. It’s incredibly encouraging and eye opening. My husband and I have wanted to adopt for years internationally and are praying and beginning the process.

    You mentioned reading several books on adoption…do you recommend any on your blog and I missed it? If not could you please recommend your favorites/most helpful. Thank you so much!

    • Mix and Match Mama October 15, 2016 at 5:40 am

      I have mentioned them! My very favorite is Mary Ostyn’s Forever Mom :).

  • Jane Elizabeth November 15, 2016 at 8:49 am

    I love reading your posts about well everything, especially about Ashby and Madley’s adoption. My parents had two children of their own, boys, and then decided to adopt since my mother had her tubes tied. I was adopted from China when I was 5 months old back in 1995. My parents then went back to China in 2002 when I was 5 years old for a 3-year-old new little sister.