China 2016: Days 5-7 (I think???)

Well, hello from China!  We’re alive and well over here.  #andreadytobehome

Right now, it’s Wednesday afternoon and Madeley is napping, the big kids just finished their school work and we’re about to go swimming in the hotel pool.  I thought I’d take a minute to share a few pics and some very random thoughts.  Between the jet lag, the new kid, and everything else, my brain is mush ;).

Day 5:


We woke up on Day 5 and had to get to breakfast early because we had an adoption appointment first thing that morning.  A little selfie with me and number three.


Madeley is ready to eat…or at least attempt to eat.  She’s totally into attempting to chew now (she had previously been on a formula diet). This was our first breakfast with her and she tried very hard to get egg in her mouth and we attempted yogurt too.


Downstairs heading to our appointment.  I love these two so much!


I mean, so cute, right?!?!  At this civil office, they had a great play area, so our kids totally entertained themselves.  We were there about 1.5 hours, so the play area was a real lifesaver.  I only had to tell Smith 458 times that he could not play dodgeball in there. #ohsmithyouandyourenergy

It honestly really surprises me that Madeley walks because she’s not very active.  She is totally fine just sitting or lying there and letting the world go by.  I’m sure that was quite helpful in her orphanage when they were caring for so many kids, but we’re trying to encourage her to move a bit more.  She loved this rocker and happily climbed on it several times.


Please note, Kensington is ready to drop out of school and care for Madeley full time.  Or work at the makeup counter at the mall.  That kid constantly has a baby in her arms and lipgloss in her hands.


So, she says “mama” and that melts my heart.  She also says dada and bye.  She can blow kisses, give high fives and throw a major fit if you take away her spaghetti.  #learnedthatthehardway


We’ve gotten good at entertaining ourselves in civil offices.


That’s his “you just caught me throwing the ball at my sisters even though you told me to stop” face and Ashby’s “oh heaven help me to hang on to this ball so that he doesn’t throw it again” face.


Whew!  An hour and a half later and all of the paperwork is wrapped up for Madeley’s province.  Woohoo!


I mean…this picture is terrible for about 100 reasons…but it shows us outside in Jinan at their evening water/light show.


Big kids taking pictures of the show.  This was their favorite part of Jinan.

As we were leaving, a Chinese woman stopped me to ask if all four kids were mine.  I said yes and she asked me how I could have so many.  I told her I was American and we can have as many kids as we want.  She pointed to Ashby and said “she looks Chinese” and I said “yes, these two (pointing to A & M) are both Chinese” and she said, “No, that one’s not” (pointing to M) and walked off.  Ha!   You have to laugh.  People say the funniest things sometimes.

Day 6:


I mean…I looked like a hot mess that morning at breakfast because I hadn’t dressed yet…but how sweet is my son?  #becausehehadnododgeball


Miss Madeley


On this afternoon, we left our hotel in Jinan to fly to Guangzhou (where all Americans have to go to complete their Chinese adoptions).  I took a picture of our hotel door because in this room right here, a daughter was born into a family.

I mean…I failed at taking pictures the rest of this day.  We packed, had to sign some papers that were being notarized, we ate, we got into the van and drove the hour to the airport, we waited at the airport for 2.5 hours and then flew to Guangzhou.  Madeley slept about half the flight and then just sat in my lap the other half.  We landed at 7:30, got our luggage, met our adoption guide for Guangzhou and drove the hour to our hotel.  We checked in, ordered room service (around 9:00 PM) and crashed.  Travel days are long.

Day 7:


Back in Guangzhou and oh so happy!  This was our favorite stop last time and we’re pumped to be back for our last week in China.  Last time, we were in China three weeks and this time, about two.  We love this hotel, we love this city, we love, love, love ending in Guangzhou.  We started off our day with a yummy breakfast downstairs.  Madeley pretty much has her serious face on all the time ;).


That’s her “put the phone down and find me some food” face.  In only three days, she’s improving quite a bit with eating.  We’re still giving her formula, but she has been chewing more and more and pushing less and less out with her tongue.  She ate a little egg, banana bread and an entire container of yogurt for breakfast.  We’re calling that a BIG win!


Same girl, same smile, same fortitude and the exact same spot only 20 months later.  It’s like deja vu being back at this hotel.  It feels like we were just here. #wekindofwere  It’s amazing to me to look at Madeley and think in 20 months how much can change.  This Ashby girl has my heart.  She is PRECIOUS.  Many of you have asked about her hand and her procedures and I mean…it’s too early to tell.  I do think there has been some improvement between the first and second procedure…but we just don’t know yet.  She’s tough.   I know I say that all the time, but seriously…SHE IS TOUGH.


My mama heart is just so full.

So, now here is a bunch of randomness:

1: I do not have the gift of homeschooling.  One of my kids makes it easy and one of them makes me want to poke my eye out with a pencil.

2: We ordered chocolate ice cream the other night and it came with sliced cherry tomatoes on top.

3. I would kill for a taco right now.

4. We got into the van today to head to Madeley’s medical exam (required for her to get her US Visa) when our adoption guide turns around and says “she has (insert scary sounding medical problem here)” and I’m all like “no, she has (insert not quite as scary medical problem)” and she’s like “it’s all over her Chinese files that this is her problem” and I’m all “well, that isn’t right” and she’s all “yes, it is” and then we agreed to meet in the middle with said scary sounding medical problem.  She goes “what does her medication say?” and I’m all “it’s in Mandarin…so you know, I took their word for it”.  So needless to say, that’s not what you want to hear going into the medical appointment.  I’m pretty sure I’m right and they’re wrong…she started asking me if she had x,y and z symptoms and she doesn’t.  Some things are better discussed at home. #bigwideeyeemojihere

5. I miss my home wifi.

6. So, I’m always telling you how practical Smith is.  He just says the obvious all the time and doesn’t buy into things other kids (cough, cough, Kensington) do.  So at the airport yesterday, a group of Chinese men were interested in him.  They were standing really close to him talking about him, pointing, discussing right next to him and Smith says, “I can’t wait to get back to the LA airport so I can stand close to a Chinese person and make them feel weird”.  Hahahaha!  That kid cracks me up.

7. I miss pumpkins.  I miss seeing them, eating them, drinking them in my coffee (even if it’s faux-pumpkin, I don’t care!).  I really miss pumpkin everything.

8. Madeley weighs 23 pounds.  I learned that today at her appointment.

9. Speaking of Madeley…so many people want to know where we got her name.  I mean…at this point, I figured you would all know and not have to ask ;).  We literally took out a map of England and found this great little town outside of London called Madeley, England.  Because when you start a trend (British names), you have to carry it to the end, right?!  And James is for King James plus James 1:27 in the Bible tells us to care for the orphans.  So, Madeley James 🙂 .

10. Next question is “why did you change their names?”.  The answer is for two reasons: I want Ashby and Madeley to feel like they are Shulls.  I want them to feel included, incorporated, integral and exactly like the older two Shull kids.  Plus, the names each girl was given in their orphanages were not unique or special…they were assigned and not really used to address each girl.  They weren’t calling them by those names, they are just names for paperwork, so they didn’t respond to those names either.

11. And does Madeley know her name?  I think she does!  When we say it now, she’ll look at us.  That’s sweet 🙂 .

So, okay…we’re off to swim.  I’ll let you know later how that works out for Madeley 😉 .

One last story, remember that awesome family I told you about last time who has 11 kids and are here adopting two more?  Well, their oldest here is 13 and has never been able to walk.  They told me that she was found sitting on a bench at a bus  terminal at the age of five.  Her grandpa took her to the bus terminal and sat her there (she couldn’t walk) and said he’d be right back with bus tickets for them and he never returned.  Can you imagine?  Being five and abandoned like that (without the ability to get down and ask for help).  Friends, Andrew and I are moved to tears over here by the stories like this.  There are so many families adopting these precious kids who have suffered so much and need a forever home.  When I think of that little girl being left and then being placed into an orphanage for 8 years before being adopted by this precious family…my heart stops.  How amazing is that?  She’s very ill and they’re not sure how long she’ll live (we’re obviously praying for a miracle!), but her days are about to get a little better.  If you’ve ever considered adopting, I urge you to act on it.  Story after story, person after person, encounter after encounter over here is moving my heart in such big ways.  Adoption is so many hard things…BUT IT IS AMAZING.  And there are special kids over here who need you to come get them and bring them home.  It’s a calling (I’m not saying it’s for everyone), so if you feel called, my prayer this afternoon is that you act on it.

Okay…time to swim and then tomorrow, we celebrate Kensington’s 8th birthday :).

To see my first post on Madeley’s adoption, click HERE.

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  • Erynn Mangum September 14, 2016 at 2:50 am

    Precious girl! Praying for her, praying for transitions all around and for you to have a safe trip back home!

  • Maureen Chen September 14, 2016 at 3:07 am

    Beautiful! I can so feel your overflowing heart full of joy from your blog post, and I can’t wait to see Madeley’s journey, the same way I was able to witness Ashby’s! Thank you for sharing your heart, letting us walk alongside your adoption journey, and encouraging us to move towards action. Looking forward to more updates! Love to you and your beautiful family!

  • Kate September 14, 2016 at 3:15 am


    Thank you so so so much for sharing, always! Congratulations on sweet Madeley she is beautiful and oh-so-blessed to have you and the rest of her new family. I’m up in the middle of the night rocking my baby back to sleep and that story about that 13 year old girl is completely heartbreaking and make me ugly (but silently) cry but those people (and your family) remind us of all the good in the world. Can’t wait to hear more about Madeley and how everyone is adjusting! And happy birthday to Kensington, she’s fabulous!

  • Mama September 14, 2016 at 3:20 am

    I love this, all of it, but the bit that made me smile most was the fact that you class Madeley as ‘just outside London’. I live about 15mins from Madeley, and 3hours from London, to an Englander that’s MILES and MILES and MILES!!
    Safe travels home xx

    • Mix and Match Mama September 14, 2016 at 3:29 am

      That’s coming from a Texan where that’s nothing ;).

  • Nell September 14, 2016 at 3:55 am

    What a beautiful family! Congrats on Madeley, she’s absolutely gorgeous.

  • jamie September 14, 2016 at 4:21 am

    oh, shay, these updates make my heart burst. my eyes cry tears of joy. i laugh at the weird and funny things. i breath in every single word. the photo of the room number and why you took the photo just filled my soul. it all does, honestly.

  • Diana Holguin September 14, 2016 at 4:39 am

    So I’m up feeding my month old baby and pretty sure I scared him from laughing so hard at Smith’s comment about the Chinese men at the airport..haha. Madeley is beautiful! Blessings to you and your beautiful family!

  • Erika Slaughter September 14, 2016 at 4:54 am

    Oh my goodness!! I’ve been waiting for this blog post! I’m thinking it’ll take Miss Madeley all of two days to be at home and with all those big kids running around her realize she needs to be crazy too. That story about Smith is hilarious!! Only Smith! That baby girl is precious!! Now get home!!! We miss you guys! XOXO

  • Kimm September 14, 2016 at 5:01 am

    Madeley is beautiful!

  • Jami September 14, 2016 at 5:02 am

    You are all amazing and I’m praying for your special crew & for the young girl and her amazing family. Much love. Xo

  • Liz Even September 14, 2016 at 5:18 am

    Precious memories. Love them all.

  • Sheaffer September 14, 2016 at 5:21 am

    This post was beautiful! I love everything about it and get so excited to look at the pictures and hear about your journey! BUT CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM WITH TOMATOES? STOP! WHAT IN THE WORLD?

    • Julie September 14, 2016 at 7:39 am

      Hi Sheaffer, in Asian countries, tomatoes are eaten as fruits (and sometimes as veggies in salads and such). But I remember as a child, my mom would give me a tomato straight up & I would eat it like an apple! So I’m assuming that was the thought process here…like how we eat Icecream with strawberries, bananas and cherries? But I can see how cherry tomatoes on top of Icecream can sound…um, interesting! ????

  • kathy September 14, 2016 at 5:24 am

    I’ll be praying for this young girl the other family is adopting also.
    It’s so good to read your updates:)

  • Heather September 14, 2016 at 5:37 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your adoption journey! You both have such loving hearts to take in and love these children as your own. I hope that one day in the future these doors are opened for us as well. Bless your sweet family!

  • Karen September 14, 2016 at 5:45 am

    My heart is so full for you all right now! I wait for your new posts and fill up with tears! God bless you all and sweet girl Madeley! ! Prayers for a safe trip and safe return❤️

  • Ashley September 14, 2016 at 5:46 am

    You and your family are very inspiring and it is nice to see how adoption looks. I think you are making it relatable and more of a possibility for many readers. Prayers for a safe return home and a good diagnosis from the American doctors.

  • Mallory Jones September 14, 2016 at 5:48 am

    Truth: right after I commented asking about her name, I googled “Madeley” saw the Wikipedia page for the town in England and just sort of went “ohhhhhhh that makes sense”

  • Karen September 14, 2016 at 5:49 am

    Thank you so much for sharing! I have been waiting for your post. My heart is so full for you all right now! God bless you all and sweet girl Madeley❤️ Prayers for a safe trip and safe travels home

  • Sandy September 14, 2016 at 6:19 am

    I looked up Madely, England as soon as I heard her name! I assumed that is where it came from. I love the story of the lady saying she does not look Chinese. I just assumed that it would be obvious to people there. Thanks for sharing your experience. Praying for precious family time and safe travels.

  • Narci September 14, 2016 at 6:19 am

    Oh, Madeley! You are a precious girl! And, I am laughing so hard at Smith playing dodgeball. 🙂 we love y’all!! Xo

  • Connie September 14, 2016 at 6:23 am

    I couldn’t wait to read this update. Praying for this precious angel Madeley and your entire family. God bless you all!

  • Kelly September 14, 2016 at 6:42 am

    Sweet Madely! I cannot wait until you post a picture of her first smile. It won’t be long I just know it. Thank you so much for sharing your adoption journey. You are speaking to many hearts. Praying for the Shull family of six 🙂

  • Ashley September 14, 2016 at 6:48 am

    Praying for an enjoyable week and continued milestones being met (yay yogurt!!). Also praying for her doctor’s appointment back in the states, that her condition is more mild than anticipated.

  • Wendy September 14, 2016 at 6:54 am

    I had the same thought as Mama in the comments…I know the town of Madeley and thought maybe there were 2 towns in England with the same name since Madeley is in the West Midlands region. That’s when I remembered to anyone who lives in Texas (where it feels like days and days and days trying to drive across it), a few hours away is like right next door! Is the James from King James I of England/King James VI of Scotland or King James II? Her name is very cute and suits her. The story about Smith is very funny….out of the mouths of babes. Thank you for sharing your beautiful family story. Hope everything else goes very smoothly and you can have a taco soon.

  • Leigh September 14, 2016 at 7:00 am

    Her face in those restaurant pictures has me cracking up! I love it! Blessings on you and your family as you continue this journey.

  • Rebecca Riemer September 14, 2016 at 7:17 am

    Thank you for sharing this amazing story. My family has been considering adopting and seeing your joy takes me a step closer after each post!! Praying for safe travels home and smooth transitions for all.

    Funny story about the woman who said that Madeley isn’t Chinese. I actually think she looks a bit like my daughter (who is part Filipino) 🙂

  • Fenny September 14, 2016 at 7:19 am

    My second China girl had a face much like Madeley’s for about the first 4 months that we had her. Didn’t smile or cry much. She’s a pretty stubborn soul (still is, lol). But it was almost like she was just tolerating us loving on her. Then she slowly gave in to it all. Became the life of the party. Now at 10 years old she still keeps us on our toes. Looking back at her first pics of the first few days, you’d never know it was the same kid. Thank you for sharing your story….your family is beautiful.

  • Allison September 14, 2016 at 7:21 am

    Shay–I have loved so much reading about your journey to adopt. Adopting, fostering, & orphans–it all has always touched my heart in a big way. I always thought we’d adopt (but then we had our big surprise number 4 right after our suprise number 3 & I’m doing my best to come up for air—we are in a good place now. Phew!). Anyways I wanted to share how ANY family can be the hands and feet of Jesus through hosting an orphan for the holidays or during the summer. Our church, oak hills, here in San Antonio shared a few agencies who organize this last spring and I immediately thought WE CAN DO THIS!!–I don’t know what the Lord has planned for us in the future, by today??–we can do this! We have an 8 year old Ukrainian girl coming to spend 4 weeks with us over Christmas and we CANNOT WAIT. Our kids are beside themselves with excitement. It really is an awesome way to bring the mission here and be a loving family to an orphan in need. Maybe you could share this with your readers. A real way that you can touch the lives of an orphan when you might not feel the call to adopt. (And honestly the paperwork and process isn’t that overwhelming). I know that our sweet girl will change our lives far more than we hers. So blessed to be apart of Project 143.

  • Susan September 14, 2016 at 7:42 am

    So glad to read an update on your sweet family, it sounds like things are going well. Hopefully you will be home soon and praying for safe travels for your family and an easy transition which I am sure will be good. Love the story about Smith and the Chinese men, ha ha.

  • Allison September 14, 2016 at 7:45 am

    Goosebumps at the end about the young girl left on a bench. That is heartbreaking. Just heartbreaking. Oh how I wish we could look more seriously into adoption!! I love reading your journey!!

  • cassie {hi sugarplum} September 14, 2016 at 7:53 am

    I pored over every word in this post like my life depended on it!! I love these updates, and am praying for you six. xoxoxoxo

  • Laci Murray September 14, 2016 at 7:57 am

    Madeley James is absolutely precious!! Her cheeks make me want to just squeeze them!! You have a beautiful family and God has been so good to bless both you and these sweet girls with a forever home. Love these updates!!

  • Natalie Clark September 14, 2016 at 8:03 am

    Ohmygoodness, I love all of this, but I think I love Smith’s comment the best!! Tell him to go to a nail salon and he might feel the same way, even in America! haha Your kids are so sweet!

  • Heather September 14, 2016 at 8:05 am

    Congratulations on your newest addition to your family! They are all beautiful children. Twenty years ago my husband and I made the long journey to China to adopt our beautiful little girl. Three years later, we made the journey again and now our little girls are 21 and 17 years old! There is something very special about these children from Chinese orphanages. The moment you receive their photo, you are connected to them and the moment they are placed into your arms is such an incredible feeling. One you never forget. You have made a difference to these little girls lives as they have to yours. I wish you all the very best.

  • Sarah September 14, 2016 at 8:07 am

    I have been reading your blog for about a year now! You are such a blessing to these babies. You have had me in tears with your last posts about Madeley. She is a true blessing. I pray for a smooth transition for all of you. Blessings to you and your beautiful family!

  • Regine Karpel September 14, 2016 at 8:08 am


  • Kara September 14, 2016 at 8:13 am

    I love your random thoughts! The pencil in the eye…yep…thought that before doing homework. Smith’s comment-AWESOME! So happy you have a little helper with Kensington. Praying for a smooth week and I can’t wait to see that little Madeley smile.

  • Emily September 14, 2016 at 8:19 am

    I was so excited to see an update!! Every morning I have been checking to see if there was anything new on the blog and I am so in awe of this update. How amazing it is to follow up on your calling to adopt. It just shows that a child truly does blossom when it receive one-on-one attention and love. Look how much Madeley has already learned in the few days with you. This is what is so sad about children in orphanages…. they don’t get the chance to shine bright. Cant say it enough… just a true blessing that she has a family now. I was wondering, does Ashby still understand/speak Mandarin? Is she able to communicate with Madeley? Was there ever a time during this 2nd adoption process that you considered adopting from the same orphanage as Ashby or do the agencies pick that? Do you wish you were able to see the place that Madeley lived for almost 2 years? Anways 🙂 Looking forward to more blog updates and wishing you and your family safe travels back home!

  • Carrie September 14, 2016 at 8:20 am

    Thanks for sharing your story with us! I’m soaking it in, line by line. Praying for the rest of your journey.

  • Ally September 14, 2016 at 8:22 am

    Oh my goodness this is too much!!! Such a beautiful family.As I have been following Madeley’s journey I just came across another amazing adoption story. It moved me to tears.

  • Jess Deisher September 14, 2016 at 8:24 am

    I’m so happy that Madeley is adjusting so well. I love that she’s already calling you guys mama and dada. How incredible that must feel. Thinking about you guys!


  • Crystal September 14, 2016 at 8:25 am

    So incredibly inspired by your journey. I would love to read more about how you choose a child for your family and do all the children that are up for adoption have special needs? Thank you for the updates. They bring a smile to my face. ❤️

  • CMB September 14, 2016 at 8:32 am

    I was SO looking forward to this update!! Thank you for sharing. Madeley is so precious. As are all your children 🙂 Hoping M’s diagnosis is the lesser of the two evils.

  • Erin (No Bohns About It) September 14, 2016 at 8:44 am

    Oh man the story about that little girl breaks my heart. It’s really hard to think that her family loved and took care of her for SO many years, and then likely realized because of her medical issues that they couldn’t take care of her anymore. I can’t even imagine that pain. For her, for them. Sometimes adoption is really hard 🙁

  • Amanda September 14, 2016 at 8:45 am

    Beyond beautiful!!! You know, in the picture of Ashby in the civil office, she has the same expression on her face that you did in the picture of you and your family in the airport when Ashby came home. Meant to be.

  • GiGi Turner September 14, 2016 at 8:48 am

    Oh that Smith!!! You have to love his honesty! And Mama, he’s establishing his only brother role with dodge ball. LOL I love Kensington always having her lip gloss, probably won’t be too long before she wishes she had never shown it to Madeley. And how precious is Ashby as the proud big sister. All three showing their unique personalities and love for their new little sister is a credit to the love they feel from you and Andrew. Such an example of God’s love for us. Praying for continued smooth transitions and safe travels. Oh and successful home schooling!

  • Kristin Tate September 14, 2016 at 8:49 am

    I can’t wait for the day you post the picture of Madeley with a big smile. I remember it took Asby a minute and I know the day will come when we will watch her personality shine through the camera. Your journey is changing so many lives. Thank you for answering Gods call for your life.

  • Kim M. September 14, 2016 at 8:49 am

    Such a beautiful family! So happy for you guys! Madeley is so sweet and the love that you guys have shown will pass down for generations and generations to come. What a legacy! The picture of you and your four littles is absolutely precious! Definitely a big frame! Congratulations on your beautiful family and sending you lots of love from SC.

  • Melissa H September 14, 2016 at 8:55 am

    Such sweet stories. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. I am a long time follower and your blog is a bright spot in my day. Sending prayers up for you!

  • Shay September 14, 2016 at 8:59 am

    I so look forward to your updates!! Look at all the “wins” you’ve had already with Madeley! Amazing! Adoption is truly amazing and you’re really speaking right to my heart when you talk about it. Thank you again for sharing your journey!

  • diane jones September 14, 2016 at 9:03 am

    What a wonderful blessing to read about Madeley first thing this morning ! She seems to fit in perfectly with your family — Kensington is at the perfect age to “mother” a baby sister (there is a certain window of time where girls are the BEST babysitters). God bless and keep your growing family as you continue this international journey.

  • Sara September 14, 2016 at 9:11 am

    I am so excited for you guys!! Did you have any reservations about bringing Ashby back to China and into a similar situation that she went through before?

  • Jeanie September 14, 2016 at 9:20 am

    Thanks for the update. Madeley is precious, and I love the reasoning behind her middle name. Can’t wait to see her first smile. She is a very lucky little girl to have you all for a family.

  • Carrie September 14, 2016 at 9:22 am

    I obviously have no background to her story, but I wonder if Madeley is part Filipino or American or something else that makes her not look distinctly Chinese (I assume, since the lady said what she did)? I feel terrible saying I can’t tell the difference between people from Asia, but from what I’ve been told it’s a very obvious distinction for them. Thanks for sharing your beautiful journey!! Does Ashby have any memory of being there before? Seeing her big smile just melts my heart!!!

  • Tammy September 14, 2016 at 9:26 am

    Madeley is just precious! Can’t wait to see her smile — surely it won’t be long! I realize I only know you guys thru social media – but I will be SO glad when y’all get home 🙂 (In fact when you aren’t posting daily – I worry about you guys) I pray the medical issues aren’t serious – that the mix up, is simply that, just a mix up! Much love to your sweet family

  • Rebecca Jo September 14, 2016 at 9:34 am

    I so ADORE why you put her middle name as James!!!!
    Her little pouty face. I cant wait to see all the smiles that are coming.
    So she’s NOT Chinese according to that lady? I would have had to ask, what do you think she is? So funny!!!
    Kensington is just the BEST big sister. God knew what He was doing making sure she was the 1st child in the family.

  • Charity September 14, 2016 at 9:35 am

    I am so excited for y’all, but way more excited for Madeley! I can’t wait until she understands that she is safe and with people that love her that will never leave. Looking forward to her having the same smiles on her face that sweet Ashby does!

  • emily@ a little bit of emily September 14, 2016 at 9:40 am

    That adoption story gave me chills! So sad, but also so happy that she will have a loving home, if only for a short time! I can’t get over Madeley in her bows – just so sweet and those cheeks!

  • Emily September 14, 2016 at 9:42 am

    I just can’t wait for each and every post! This is so amazing to follow along on your journey!
    Madeley’s grump face is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen 🙂

  • Jennifer September 14, 2016 at 9:44 am

    I’m absolutely moved! I love everything about you & your sweet family. Y’all are amazing!

  • Teresa Flahaut September 14, 2016 at 10:02 am

    Prayers for you guys as you prepare to travel home! Prayers for sweet Madeley! Prayers for your family as you all bond and create lifetime memories during this time! I wish I could send you 12 tacos right now! (Oh and I’m sure Madeley will be eating salsa very soon!) Love you all!

  • Kim September 14, 2016 at 10:03 am

    What a sweet sweet girl! I saw this Chinese adoption story on CNN today and immediately thought of you 🙂 Safe travels home and can’t wait to follow along as the adventure continues!

  • Lily September 14, 2016 at 10:22 am

    Shay, I have been a long-time reader of your blog…one of those who never comments. 😉 But both of your adoption stories just move me. I smile from ear to ear hearing about both girls. I admire you and Andrew so much!
    My husband and I have been struggling with infertility for the last 4 years and it’s been quite a journey and a couple of miscarriages. We are very open to adoption, but unfortunately just don’t have the funds to do so.
    I’m incredibly happy for you and your sweet family!

  • Grace September 14, 2016 at 10:29 am

    Shay, thank you so much for sharing your lives with us. I, like so many others, I’m sure, feel like friends with you, as well as the other McKinney mamas! Several things, the picture of the door & your caption of that room is where she first became part of your family – LOVE! All the feels! Your adorable kids’ personalities- Kens self-appointed as Madeley’s caregiver & with lipgloss, Smith being all boy & airport comment, Ashby singing Jesus Loves Me & being her sweet, sassy, tough self! I imagine Madeley to be thinking “who are these people and what is going on?” but like Ashby, will blend beautifully into your precious family as y’all love on her & she learns to trust y’all! Praying for y’all during this transitional time. As well as the amazing family you mentioned. One last thing, all followers of Christ are to love and support (however they can & the Lord leads; by adoption into family, financial contributions like Compassion, & most importantly prayer!) the needy, including orphans and widows, as you referenced to James 1:27! I look forward to adopting my child(ren) the Lord has for us, while relishing & soaking up every moment of my 9 month old baby boy! Prayers & blessings to you & your family!

  • Priscilla September 14, 2016 at 10:31 am

    First, it is a calling, not just for you, but for Andrew. Obviously, you are a great team.
    I totally get the homeschooling thing. I have a boy and a girl, in college now, but I homeschooled for one year. I had the same experience. I thought I was going crazy. Smith’said comment just made my day. I think we can all relate, Smith! ! Prayers to all of you.

  • Angela Ellingson September 14, 2016 at 10:40 am

    Love this so much! That picture of you with Madeley snuggled on your chest is so precious! What a sweet baby girl.

  • Whitney September 14, 2016 at 10:44 am

    Your family is precious. God bless you all and safe travels back to the US!

  • Melanie September 14, 2016 at 10:53 am

    Shay Shull, You are so encouraging!! You are rocking this Mom of 4 thing! I love to see the joy baby Madeley brings to your other kids! Thank you for sharing these precious moments! Prayers for continued safety and smooth transitions back to the States.

  • Melissa Frye September 14, 2016 at 11:27 am

    I can’t wait to see her smile!

  • Brittany King September 14, 2016 at 11:28 am

    She’s just precious! My little girl is about 2 weeks younger than Madeley and is also 23 pounds. Happy Birthday Kensington, my birthday is today. I love your blog and always wanted to adopt from China. I’m praying it will happen some day.

  • Celina September 14, 2016 at 11:29 am

    Hi Shay – I’ve been following your blog (and pinterest/facebook/insta/etc!) for awhile and have loved your stories of life. I haven’t written anything before, but felt compelled after your recent family updates! You have a beautiful family and congrats on #4 – such a blessing for everyone. Your story is inspiring and although I know the days aren’t easy, you make it look that way!

    As an American-1st generation born of Chinese & Japanese parents and regular visitor to Asia, I know first-hand of the funny things you’re experiencing! As we’d say in the States, the Chinese culture has “no chill” – although a bit might be lost in translation, they say what they think and in the bluntest of manners. No rudeness is meant, just facts and data. But it doesn’t quite translate the same to our American English! It took a little explaining to my husband when he first met my extended family – he’s a typical American football linebacker build (tall, big, broad) and when they first met him, they exclaimed “you’re not as big as we thought!” which really translates to “you look good!” in an backwards sort of way. 🙂

    Enjoy the rest of your stay and soaking in a bit more of China. And if you thought chocolate ice cream with tomatoes was weird, don’t fall for the trick of “Mexican”, “American”, or any other non-Asian food. They put their own spin on it and it’s crazy!

  • Lindsay @ Lindsay's Sweet World September 14, 2016 at 11:36 am

    Continued prayers for you guys, Shay! I am SO enjoying these updates from you guys! I hope you get to come home soon!

  • Karen September 14, 2016 at 11:40 am

    Shay, I have a request… It was SO fun to see your family reception when you came home with Ashby. I think you – or someone – even posted video. Will you post those type of pictures again?
    Precious, precious, precious… It feels like a homecoming we all want to celebrate with Madeley!!!

  • Stacy Tsoukatos September 14, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Congratulations. I love all of the truth and honesty you put into each of your posts. The adoption posts are extra special to your readers and we are so excited for you and your family!!

  • Margaret September 14, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    Madeley is beautiful! When I saw the first picture that you uploaded of her, I didn’t think that she was full Chinese as well. She might have some Caucasian blood in her 🙂 Your life is inspiring – thank you for sharing your journey with us.

  • Ashleigh September 14, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    HI Shay – A HUGE congratulations to you and your beautiful family. You all are one of a kind and have inspired my husband and I to possibly look into international adoption. Can I ask what agency you all have gone through for your adoption? We have no idea where to start! Thanks!

  • Kerri September 14, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    I laughed out loud at the story about smith!
    And the story about a woman saying Madeley is not Chinese… Do you know any of her family history? Maybe she is a mixed race and that’s why to a native Chinese person she looks different?

  • Lauren September 14, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    Tomatoes on ice cream? No wonder you’re dying for a taco. The medical situation must be so hard. Once you broke down the conversation you had, I started to get it. How scary to not know what is going on with your (brand new) child and not be heard and to have a language barrier. Thank you for being transparent with us about her medical issues. You’re helping me and others understand what adoption is like. I never thought I would adopt, but you are helping me to open that door. It’s only cracked open at this point! But it just being opened at all was the biggest step. And it’s thanks to you. Praying for all the Shulls and for little Madeley’s transition.

  • Stephanie September 14, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    So so sweet. I love hearing about your beautiful family. Where did you get Madeley’s shoes, by the way? Your kids are always so stylish!

  • audra September 14, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    1. God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good. 2. love, love, LOVE her name! 3. there are such great pottery factories in that part of England! 4. As a newish expat from Fort Worth, I’m missing my tacos like crazzzzzy!

  • MARIE SCHRYER September 14, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    Loved, loved, loved this post!!! Love that you share so much with us and are so real, your family is so amazing and I hope this brings more people to adopt these sweet children!!! Reading your blog has made me want to be a better person, God is so good!! Wishing you all a safe return to the states!!

  • Kimberly September 14, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    I’ve read this adoption post over and over because I love your family’s journey with Ashby and now Madeley so much. My mother was adopted from China so it’s wonderful to experience your adoption story through your blog and photos. I can’t wait to read your next post on how Madeley adjusts and grows in her new life as a Shull.

  • Erin McGuire September 14, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    Everyone always asks about your clothes but this time I”m more interested in Madeley’s! So, where did you get her super cute outfits and ever more adorable shoes??? I’m dying over here to know! 🙂 When you do a catch up post after you’re back please let us know – my sweet Tenley Louise needs a winter wardrobe! Also, curious why all of you are in shorts and tank tops but Madeley is in pants and long sleeves. Just wondered if there was maybe a medical or other reason for that. 🙂 Congrats again, your family is amazing and beautiful!

  • christine September 14, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    You guys are doing such a wonderful thing. That baby girls serious face is absolutely adorable I can only imagine what a beautiful smile she will have. She is so precious 🙂

  • Kari September 14, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    Based on the woman’s comment about how Madeley isn’t Chinese, I wonder if she might be mixed race. One parent is Japanese/Korean/Southeast Asian? I’d be so tempted to do one of those DNA tests to find out! 20 years ago, I lived in Asia for a year and as a blonde/light skinned chick I certainly understand being stared at and talked about. One group in Burma had never seen a Westerner in person before and thought I was a movie star. I’m sure y’all made it a great teaching moment for the kids about accepting those who are different because he now knows what that feels like. Good luck on the rest of your Chinese journey!

  • Anna September 14, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    You have to watch this!! Such an amazing little video about Chinese adoption and Texas!

  • Lindsay Dunagan September 14, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    You have such a beautiful family!!!

  • Joanne September 14, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    You have such a beautiful family! Madeley is one very lucky little girl!

  • Chelsea @ married filing jointly September 14, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    Can you talk through the financial piece of adopting in China?

  • Amanda September 14, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    Hi Shay, I’ve followed your blogs for years now and wanted to say thank you for sharing your adoption story! I too have a heart for adoption, but we have been on the fence on when to start the process. Primarily because our youngest is 2yo and the financial costs involved. We have two boys (7 & 2) and would like to adopt a daughter from China. After reading about the family adopting the terminally ill 13yo we are no longer on the fence! I think God used you and your blog to really speak to my heart. There may never be the perfect “financial” time to start, but we will just have to make it work. Thanks again for sharing your story and your heart! May I ask which agency your using? We are in the DFW area too. We have been in contact with The Great Wall so far.

    • Jennifer September 14, 2016 at 10:06 pm

      As the mother of two sweethearts born in China, I was excited to read your comment . . . God bless you as you begin your own adoption journey! We live in PA but used Great Wall China Adoption (Austin, TX) for both adoptions and loved them.

  • Alice September 14, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    I can see why your heart is full, so much to love with your sweet four for you and Andrew. You have a beautiful family. I hope you’re all back safely before you know it enjoying being home, and eating tacos.

  • Shan September 14, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    Not enjoying the Chinese food there ? Lol , I was in Frankenmuth, Michigan the other week trying some of their “world famous chicken dinners” and thought about your love of German food lol, totally random! Love all the pics and updates

  • kelly September 14, 2016 at 6:55 pm

    Such great stuff!!!! But Smith’s comment takes the cake! What a fun kid!! Lol

  • Plano September 14, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    Actually, that’s not a cherry tomato, that’s Chinese cherry.

  • Samantha September 14, 2016 at 7:44 pm

    Just curious how expensive (ballpark estimate) is it to adopt from China? I assume you have gone thru countless background checks and I assume they want financial statements as well.

  • Nicole Susany September 14, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    It’s me (deodorant quiet time, and I don’t drink as much because of you girl) I’m so excited and grateful that I get to see Madeley’s eyes open up to her new world. A world of love and home and family and forever. God bless you all. I’m praying for you.
    Totally random: Princess Leonor of Spain reminds me so much of your Kensington.
    Google her.
    ❤️ You and your family from afar. You are in my heart and my prayers.

  • Krista September 14, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    I don’t know why but every time I look at pictures of Ashby and Madely, I instantly think that they are “yours”. I can’t explain it, but I do. They look like they came from both of you, and in all ways that matter, they did All blessings to you and your beautiful family.

  • Jennifer September 14, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    Shay, I’m a long time reader who doesn’t comment often . . . just love following your journey, as it brings back such wonderful memories of our trips to China to adopt our daughters. They are now 13 and 6, and as lovely and well adjusted as two girls could be. I LOVE that your journey is inspiring others! Who knows how many precious lives will be changed as your readers witness the joy of adoption through your blog. Enjoy the rest of your time in Guangzhou and safe travels home!

  • Natalie September 14, 2016 at 10:29 pm

    I am so moved by your story Shay. Your vulnerability in sharing this very personal journey of adopting babies from another country. My husband have gone back and forth on fostering in our county we live in in California but have not been able to see it fully through yet due to some requirements. Hopefully our empty home will someday soon have children in it. Can you recommend any adoption agencies to work with for foreign adoption? After reading your story it’s opening up my eyes to kids outside of our area.
    Much love to you and your babies!

  • Paige September 14, 2016 at 10:52 pm

    Right before I checked your blog tonight, I just had this overwhelming feeling that you named your baby Madeline. I quickly talked myself out of it because I knew your kids name theme. But, wow! Was I close!
    Congratulations on your new addition!! You and your family are so inspirational! Thank you for continuing to let us take a peek into your life. And even though it had to be scary, the retelling of the medical condition confusion had me rolling. #idontspeakmandarin

  • Megan Presot September 15, 2016 at 7:36 am

    Hey Shay,
    Congrats on your sweet girl. Your momma heart is glowing from within. I was just wondering why you chose to keep this adoption more private than Ashby’s? Prayers as you all adjust and safe travels home !

  • bh September 15, 2016 at 7:45 am

    hahaha Smith is so funny …but not so practical!! why wait until he’s in LA to make a chinese person feel weird when he has his two chinese sisters available!

  • Tess September 15, 2016 at 8:51 am


    I’ve been following for a long time now, but never comment. My daughter is in 2nd grade, son in first and my youngest is almost 2! You are such an inspirational woman, with a heart of gold. Every time I read your posts I smile with all the things our kids do so similarly (same reasons I couldn’t homeschool ☺️) When I read what Smith said at the airport I was cracking up, my husband turned to me with a look of confusion. I read it to him and he started laughing and said “that’s great! Sounds like something Billy would say!” ???? Keep up the good work Mama! Can’t wait for more updates and pictures of all FOUR of those little beauties.


  • Shelly September 15, 2016 at 10:06 am

    Smith!! Oh my gosh I am seriously giggling thinking of him standing next to a Chinese person in LA!! What a beautiful journey and I love the meaning of her middle name too. Prayers for the remainder of your trip!

  • Heather Moffit September 15, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    That story of the other family just breaks my heart! I’ve ALWAYS wanted adopt just for that reason I can’t image any child feeling abandoned, unwanted or unloved, it literally breaks my heart! Is there anyway that you could do a post about how to get started with the adoption process? And how to prepare emotionally, financially, spiritually, prepare our children, how to talk to our spouse about it. Really anything that helped you would be helpful. It’s very overwhelming I know there are different agencies and processes but could you break it down into steps please. Thanks! Also last year I lived in China(Beijing with a lot of traveling within China) for 4months because my hubby worked with the US embassy for a year, they sent me home after 4 months because I was pregnant with my 3 child and the government did feel comfortable with letting me have my 3rd c-section in Beijing. China was a very interesting place to be but it really makes you realize how blessed we are in America. I love that you are adopting again, what a beautiful blessing! I have been reading your blog for a year and a half and I just love how inspiring you are by sharing your stories with all of us!

  • Maria D. September 15, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    I’m so glad that things are going so well so far and yes I can totally understand wanting to come home! It will be interesting to see what the US Doctors tell you about Madeley’s health. Interesting naming process – I did wonder.

  • Anna September 15, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    Hi, Shay! Longtime reader here just popping in to say a heart-felt congratulations on the addition of Madeley James and a thank you for continuing to share with the online community. I am just such a fan of your blog and how you choose to share your life. I am always inspired, rooted, and amused (your kids say some funny stuff!) and I just wanted to express gratitude for having a positive online space for all of us. I’m sending many prayers your way as you continue to go through the adoption process!

  • Kristy September 15, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    Hey Shay! Love your fam. What agency did you guys use? We are having the hardest time deciding on one. Thanks!

  • Dawn September 15, 2016 at 9:30 pm

    My husband and I have had adoption in our hearts for a long time. I am able to have bio children (I have a 5 year old daughter, Zoe), however, I have fibromyalgia and pregnancy and post-partem was hard on my body and made functioning well difficult/impossible. What made you decide on international adoption vs. domestic? And in general, adoption seems very overwhelming…where to start?

  • Angela Ellingson September 15, 2016 at 11:22 pm

    Looking through the pictures in this post again. Madeley’s face is so precious and sweet! Oh my goodness, I just love your family of six!

  • Jaren September 17, 2016 at 7:45 am

    Such a precious post! And Smith’s airport comment made me laugh so hard, I cried!