Madeley Post Adoption: Month 1

, Madeley Post Adoption: Month 1

One month ago today, we met our sweet Madeley James.

I mean…we’ve covered a lot of ground (both literally and figuratively) since that day not so long ago that it’s a little overwhelming to even put this month into words.

Just like with Ashby, I’m going to do a monthly adoption post the first year we have Madeley. If you’d like to see Ashby’s first adoption post, click HERE.

, Madeley Post Adoption: Month 1

 It’s been a fantastic month.  It’s been an exhausting month.  It’s been a month of so many changes that my head is kind of spinning.  It’s been a busy month.  It’s been an incredibly blessed month.

, Madeley Post Adoption: Month 1

So far, the first few days at home were the hardest.  In China, we did really well with this new transition…because no one had jet lag. The jet lag kicked our rear ends for the first six or seven days back at home and that made everything just a little more difficult.  We were all tired and no one was sleeping great…so you know, that makes things hard.  We felt a remarkable difference after the jet lag subsided.

, Madeley Post Adoption: Month 1

There are a lot of similarities between Ashby and Madeley (and their adoptions), but a lot of differences too. I would say at this point, the biggest difference between bringing home Ashby and bringing home Madeley were their ages.  We brought Ashby home when she was 2.5 years old but Madeley was only 23 months old.  Now I know that’s only a seven month difference…but it has made things completely different.  Madeley just feels like more of a baby than Ashby did.  She still has a little baby cry, she still wears diapers, she sits in a highchair and you know…just feels younger.  Madeley is less independent than Ashby was and not quite as physical.  She’s just younger in a lot of ways and so even though she’s a week shy of two, she feels so small to us.

, Madeley Post Adoption: Month 1

When we first got Madeley, she was like a rag doll.  She wouldn’t/couldn’t hold herself up if you were holding her.  She just slumped over and had no desire/ability to hold herself in the sitting position.  You could sit her down on the floor and she would just fall right over.  The same thing with holding her.  Instead of her looking around and sitting up while being held, she instantly just slumped over against you. In only one month, she’s already come so far in this department!  I can’t tell you the last time she slumped over like that.  She’s doing such a good job sitting and being held.

, Madeley Post Adoption: Month 1

So, I answered the following questions each month with Ashby to see how she was progressing and I’m doing it again this time too.

1: Language- I’m not quite sure how much she understood Mandarin.  Our guides would speak to her and try to engage, but she never did.  I don’t know if this was her just being shy/scared/confused/stubborn or if she just didn’t have the language.  As far as English goes, we’re doing the same thing we did with Ashby…we’re taking things slowly.  She can say mama, dada and bye bye.  Right now, I think she can identify when we say Kensington, Smith, Ashby, drink and eat (and a few more little words here and there), but she isn’t making an attempt to say them.  It’s so weird to have a full on conversation with Ashby and think that only 21 months ago, she was in the exact same boat.  I know some people want to know why we don’t try and keep the Mandarin as well…but one, we don’t know if she even understands Mandarin and two, from what we’ve been told that often times hinders and confuses a kid when they’re being taught two different languages at one time, but their family only speaks one of those languages.  I don’t want to do anything that might jeopardize our attachment, so, we’re just taking things slowly and doing the best we can.  I can tell you this, she hears “I love you” about 4,000 times a day :).

, Madeley Post Adoption: Month 1

2: Physical Development- Well…we’re learning a lot more this week!  The basics are that she’s on the very small side (less than 0 percentile), but appears to be very healthy.  She’s behind developmentally on every level (physically, behaviorally, emotionally, etc), but that’s very common for kids coming from orphanages.  She has two very big doctor appointments this week to give us more insight into her health, so we’re very grateful for that.  She seems to be doing really well…but we need some professionals to dive in a little deeper just to make sure.  She is on daily medication (per orphanage instructions), so we’re ready to know if she needs it/is on the right dosage/should change it/etc.  We’re very grateful for the appointments this week.

, Madeley Post Adoption: Month 1

3: Sleeping- Our plan had always been to have Madeley sleep in the bed with us.  Ashby slept in our bed for several months until she was ready to transition to her room…but things went a little differently this time around.  In the middle of one night, Andrew woke up and found Madeley asleep on the floor.  We totally freaked out and thought that she had fallen off the bed (which is weird considering she was sleeping between us).  Then the next night, we woke up to her walking around the room.  Then the next night, Andrew caught her…apparently, she was slithering down to the bottom of the bed and sliding off and then playing on the floor.  So…that’s not safe.  We bought a pack and play and placed it right next to our bed and that’s where she’s sleeping right now.  She’s sleeping soundly and she’s not getting out and potentially hurting herself at night.  Maybe we can try co-sleeping again later…but for now, we have to keep her safe, so the pack and play is doing that.  She naps about 2-3 hours every day and then we put her down at 7:30 PM and then she sleeps until at least 8:00 the next morning.  I do not take this for granted.  I am very grateful that she’s sleeping so soundly.

One other note, she rocks herself to sleep and it’s just about the saddest little thing ever.  I’ve read about this in so many of my adoption books, but I’d never actually seen it before.  Every time she sleeps, she moves very quickly from side to side until she’s asleep (rocking back and forth).  A lot of kids that are in orphanages do this as a soothing mechanism because no one is rocking them, so they rock themselves.  We sit down and rock her until she seems to be asleep, but the moment she lays down, she rocks some more.  If I put my hand lightly on her, she’ll stop, but the minute I raise my hand off, she starts rocking again.  She’s just so used to rocking herself to sleep that she can’t stop.  When Ashby came home, she sucked her thumb at night for the first few months and then all of a sudden, she stopped…and, I hear this works about the same way; she’ll grow out of the need to self-soothe one day.  Until then, we just rock her, sing to her, pat her and let her know she’s not alone.

, Madeley Post Adoption: Month 1

4. Food- For a girl who only received 3 bottles a day for almost two years…she is doing fantastic!  She is eating nothing but solid foods now and loves it.  She is very interested in proteins like beef, chicken, fish and pork and not so much into her veggies (unlike Ashby who cannot get enough!).  She’ll eat pureed veggies, potatoes and such but she doesn’t want raw, whole veggies.  I made Sloppy Joes one night and she ate 3 helpings and then later in the week, I made chili and she did the exact same thing.  I am so relieved that she’s eating.  We were very concerned the first few days that this would be a big challenge.

, Madeley Post Adoption: Month 1

5: Attachment- We seem to be doing just fine.  As of right now, no one but the doctor has held her (not even grandparents!).  We are trying so hard to really build attachment and bonding.  She is with Andrew or myself  Two mornings a week, I go to the gym with Ashby and Andrew stays home with her (that way just the two of them can work on attachment without the distraction of other kids) and then the rest of the time, she’s with me (and then all of us at night).  Attachment is a tricky thing…but as of now, I feel really good about where we are.

, Madeley Post Adoption: Month 1

6: Poppy- She is okay with the dog.  Ashby screamed her head off for days after she met Poppy but Madeley seems pretty indifferent.  I mean…they’re not playing fetch or anything, but she’s not bothered by her.

, Madeley Post Adoption: Month 1

7: Potty Training- Oh we have a long time before this!

, Madeley Post Adoption: Month 1

8: Going out- Madeley seems to be a trooper when we’re out.  She really seems to love to people watch, and she loves to point to things (balloons, birds flying, tall trees…she’s always pointing to something!).  She’s really just a happy little thing.  She’s all smiles almost all of the time.

, Madeley Post Adoption: Month 1

9: Playing- Most of our days are spent playing.  The big kids go off to school (and then Ashby goes two days a week), so Madeley and I play, play, play when they’re gone.  She loves to stand and push things around (like the pink car pictured above), she loves any toy that lights up and plays music, she loves the big wooden puzzles and she loves to stack things.  She’ll stack large duplo blocks, the jars of Play-doh, canned goods…anything she can stack, she does.  We’ll sit on the floor and stack and unstack things all day long 🙂 .  She’s so much more independent now than even three weeks ago when we brought her home.  At first, she didn’t want me to put her down.  And then, she didn’t want me to leave her side, but now, she’ll toddle into the next room and then bring me back a toy she wants us to play with.  I want her to feel at home and comfortable around the house, and slowly but surely, it’s happening.  She knows which cabinets we keep certain toys and will now open them without being prompted and pull out what she wants, so that’s all good news.

I’ve never been a worrier…but it does get a little overwhelming sometimes when you stop and think about how far she needs to go to get caught up with typically developing kids her age.  I had the same thoughts with Ashby during the day that I’m having now.  When everyone has gone off to work and school and it’s just Madeley and me, I start to think about all the things we need to work on together as we play and then I have to just dismiss the thoughts because…all she really needs right now is to be loved.  Every time I think, oh goodness, we have so far to go…I tell myself, just like with Ashby, all I need to do is love on her and the rest will come.  Easier said than done, but it’s something I tell myself all day long.

So, it’s been a month.  One month with this precious little girl.

I’ve prayed for this kiddo for a long time…and what a blessing it is to finally get to be her mom.

, Madeley Post Adoption: Month 1

Don’t forget, tomorrow is Stranded!  If you’ve blogged along with us, then don’t forget to link up.  The topic: our favorite Halloween candy. #amen

To see other posts on our adoptions, look below…

Meeting Madeley for the first time: HERE
All of our China travel posts: HERE

To see more about our journey to adopt Ashby, see below:

Post Adoption: Month 18

Post Adoption: Month 15

Ashby’s Gotcha Day {First Anniversary}

Post Adoption: Month 11

Post Adoption: Month 10

Post Adoption: Month 9

Post Adoption: Month 8

Post Adoption: Month 7

Post Adoption: Month 6

Post Adoption: Month 5

Post Adoption: Month 4

Post Adoption: Month 3

Post Adoption: Month 2

Post Adoption: Month 1

Meeting Ashby for the first time: HERE

All of our China travel posts: HERE


, Madeley Post Adoption: Month 1
  • jamie October 11, 2016 at 4:50 am

    and so this beautiful journey continues. my heart is filled with so much joy for you. thank you, again, for sharing this journey that inspires my heart in so many ways.

  • Leslie October 11, 2016 at 4:55 am

    Hi Shay! I’m so glad that you’re doing these monthly adoption posts with Madeley! I never really thought about adoption in my future, but after your journeys with Ashby and Madeley, I think it’s definitely in the cards! I know every experience is different, but it seems so incredibly rewarding!

    On another note, I finally put up my fall decor and thought that I would share!

    Happy Tuesday!

  • Erika Slaughter October 11, 2016 at 5:00 am

    Friend!! What a sweet post! You’re so right…she needs all the “I love yous” and who cares about anything else right now? You’re a great mama, Shay!! XoXO

  • Samantha October 11, 2016 at 5:13 am

    Adoption is so beautiful and I have no doubt your posts are inspiring others. Thank you for being honest about the wonderful and the hard.

  • Regine Karpel October 11, 2016 at 5:29 am


  • Elizabeth October 11, 2016 at 5:29 am

    What a sweet and precious little girl – so happy for you and your family!

  • Lindsay October 11, 2016 at 5:31 am

    I LOVE this post! (and every one that you did about Ashby’s adoption!) I definitely have wondered over the past month how your new sweet girl was doing with all the changes in her life– now we know! Rocking herself to sleep… I could die! Thanks for being so brutally honest, for sharing your highs and lows and for inspiring others to adoption or at least to not be afraid to *think* about possibly adopting some day! 🙂 Madeley, you are a beautiful gift from God! Seriously… the cutest little doll EVER!!! Sending love from Topeka, Kansas! (GO CATS!!!!)

  • Sheaffer October 11, 2016 at 5:49 am

    She hear’s I LOVE YOU about 4,000 times a day! That was my favorite part! I do think it needs to be noted how she completely lights up when you put rice and beans in front of her. I can totally identify with that type of excitement over food. 😉

  • Holly Hopkins October 11, 2016 at 6:13 am

    She is so sweet. The rocking brought tears to my eyes and the fact that she only ate 3 bottles/day. I always feel like im not a good enough Mom to adopt but I could do better than that! Thank you for sharing this journey.

    • Sara October 11, 2016 at 6:41 am

      I feel the same way sometimes about being a mom but I could do better than that too! What a great perspective!!!

  • KimW October 11, 2016 at 6:14 am

    Aww I love these posts. Thank you for sharing your heart and your journey with us. I really look forward to hearing more about Madeley and hope that her doctors appts go well! Yes, the rocking is heartbreaking. Can’t wait for the day when you see her NOT rocking 🙂

  • Liisa October 11, 2016 at 6:15 am

    Just wanted to say I´m such a big fan of those adoption posts! We have two biological children and we would love to adopt from China as well, but unfortunately our country (Estonia in Europe) does not have a good adoption system while adopting abroad. Theoretically, it is possible, but the reality is that after getting a permission to adopt, you´re on your own. We don´t have any adopting agencies or anything, so I don´t even know where to start.
    If we´d like to adopt an Estonian child, it would be easy. Our government has made it really simple to adopt a child from Estonian orphanage, I know a guy from the States who is married to an Estonian and lives here, they have adopted twice here and he says the system is perfect. But when it comes to adopting from another country, it´s a different story, sadly. So maybe a child from China just isn´t in the stars for us. But maybe it´ll happen one day.
    Until then, I´m just goint to enjoy your posts about your amazing family and great job you´re doing!

  • kathy October 11, 2016 at 6:19 am

    I’m so happy for you, Shay:)

  • Liisa October 11, 2016 at 6:23 am

    Just wanted to say I´m such a big fan of those adoption posts! We have two biological children and we would love to adopt from China as well, but unfortunately our country (Estonia in Europe) does not have a good adoption system while adopting abroad. Theoretically, it is possible, but the reality is that after getting a permission to adopt, you´re on your own. We don´t have any adopting agencies or anything, so I don´t even know where to start.
    If we´d like to adopt an Estonian child, it would be easy. Our government has made it really simple to adopt a child from Estonian orphanage, I know a guy from the States who is married to an Estonian and lives here, they have adopted twice here and he says the system is perfect. But when it comes to adopting from another country, it´s a different story, sadly. So maybe a child from China just isn´t in the stars for us. But maybe it´ll happen one day.
    Until then, I´m just goint to enjoy your posts about your amazing family and great job you´re doing!

  • Britt Hensley October 11, 2016 at 6:23 am

    What a precious baby girl!! God is good.

  • Marta October 11, 2016 at 6:25 am

    You are doing all the right things, also realize that she will need help and therapies as love alone though the main thing, will not help cure every emotional turmoil she has been through. As far as Mandarin is concerned, she is not going to be confused or hindered should you chose to keep first language. Kids in Europe learn multiple languages and it does not hinder them one bit. I am myself an adoptive mom, and with my first, I thought like you, so she lost first language, she has since regained it, and no I don’t speak Mandarin, no one in my house does. They lose so much, if you can, give them back their first language with tutoring, you would be doing her a world of good. Kensington and Smith would pick it up in a minute. Kids are sponges. But this is of course up to you, no judgements. You are doing an amazing job. You are a loving sweet mom. You will be alright. God bless you.

    • Mix and Match Mama October 11, 2016 at 6:47 am

      Thank you Marta. I appreciate your honest input. xo

  • Narci October 11, 2016 at 6:27 am

    Precious Madeley. We love you so much already! Her smile is the sweetest, and she has changed and thrived so much in just a month! I am so thankful for your family, Shulls!! Xoxo

  • Sarah October 11, 2016 at 6:27 am

    Awwww she is so, so sweet!!! You and your family are such an inspiration to me 🙂 What a wonderful blessing you are in Madeley’s (and Ashby’s!!) life!

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that right now, she just needs love 🙂 I couldn’t agree more. She WILL catch up with all of her peers; I wouldn’t even worry about that!! You are such a good mama and that’s all she truly needs right now. Keep up the great work!!!


  • votemom October 11, 2016 at 6:33 am

    keeping her in diapers for a long time is actually good for attachment. diaper changing time can be really nurturing and give you chances for lots of eye contact. i’m glad to hear you and A are with her and the only ones holding her. it will pay off big time later on. attachment attachment attachment! you can never overdo it .

  • Lina October 11, 2016 at 6:35 am

    How has it already been a month?! This post is so sweet and encouraging!!

  • Valerie October 11, 2016 at 6:40 am

    Madeley is so adorable! I can’t believe it’s only been a month…seems like so much longer. Thanks for sharing your precious family with us, Shay!!

  • Connie October 11, 2016 at 6:41 am

    Hi Shay! I love reading your blog. I don’t think I’ve commented before. I thought I would tell you I’m from a family of 5 children, #4. I rocked myself to sleep as a baby and believe it or not still do at times! I’m in my 40’s now. Ha! I never felt like my mom wasn’t there for me, its just something that helps me sleep and or to soothe myself. I do understand your concern though. Madeley is precious! Like if I can’t fall asleep I will move myself. Its hard to explain. But when I was little I would rock on my knees, with my head down in front back and forth, if you can picture that. My cousins even remember me doing this at family gatherings when us kids had to lay down for the night. Anyway, as I got older I now just move myself from side to side or I use my foot to move myself. 🙂 My mom did worry that she thought it was because of her and she had 3 other kids to care for until my youngest sister was born 18 months later. Then I had my second baby, who is a girl. She rocks herself. When she could sit up as a baby, she would literally bang her head in front of her on the carpet while rocking herself or she would rock herself on her knees and rub her forehead on her sheets. Sometimes her forehead would get a booboo and bleed. It was crazy. She is now 10 years old and still rocks herself during the night and sometimes sitting on the couch. There is nothing wrong with her either. 🙂 Just wanted to tell you she may always rock herself. I like to say instead of some kids having a blankey, thumb sucking or something they sleep with, some rock. 🙂 I hope everything continues to go well with your family. Your family is adorable and thank you for sharing your journey with us! I love your cookbooks too! (sorry for my long post)

    • Mix and Match Mama October 11, 2016 at 6:46 am

      Thank you so much Connie :).

  • Jen October 11, 2016 at 6:41 am

    Precious family- love reading all of your posts and am amazed at how much you are able to accomplish. I have 3 small girls and just cannot find the time to get it all done! Sorry if you have answered this before but I was wondering if you have help- cleaning person, nanny or sitter after school, etc. I know your parents live close by but other than them, I was just curious. Thanks!!

    • Mix and Match Mama October 11, 2016 at 6:45 am

      I do have someone that helps with the cleaning but other than that, no one. My parents live an hour away, so unfortunately, they don’t get to help as much as they would like. This is why I wake up so early…to get stuff done so that when my kids are awake, I don’t have to do as much. #andthatswhyimalwaystired 🙂

      • Jen October 11, 2016 at 6:56 am

        Thank you for the reply! This is definitely an area I struggle in! My 5 month old is still up several times during the night so I’m *hoping* when that sorts itself out, I’ll have more early morning energy ????

  • Melissa October 11, 2016 at 6:42 am

    The rocking herself to sleep almost did me in…I can’t even imagine how it breaks your heart to watch. Thanks for posting these honest snapshots into post-adoption life. For those of us who have adoption in our hearts, it’s a great source of “real” information. She’s so precious! Hugs

  • Lizzie @ This Happy Life October 11, 2016 at 6:50 am

    What a precious precious girl!! I think you’re so right that all she needs now is love and good for you for reminding yourself of that! I loved learning more about Madeley!

  • becky October 11, 2016 at 6:51 am

    You radiate love. God truly shines through you 🙂

  • Kelly October 11, 2016 at 6:57 am

    Shay , thank you for sharing this monthly update on Madeley. I could tell from all the smiles that she is a happy little girl and seemed to be adjusting well. This post helps us to pray more specifically for you. You are doing the absolute right thing by just loving on her. The rest will come all in good time. Have the best Tuesday!

  • Megan October 11, 2016 at 6:58 am

    Thank you for being so open and sharing your journey. From self-soothing at bedtime to her love for all meats this sounds so much like my little gal. I agree it can feel overwhelming when you think about how far you need to go, but you are absolutely right, a family is all she needs right now. You are doing a fabulous job, mama. Keep up His good work.

  • Kristen October 11, 2016 at 7:02 am

    Oh my, the part about her rocking herself to sleep just broke my heart! To think that sweet baby had to teach herself that. 🙁 But at the same time it makes my heart so happy she now has all of you! xoxo

  • Markay Ross October 11, 2016 at 7:11 am

    Oh, Shay…sorry about your Red Sox last night. I live in northeast Ohio and in this house we are huge Cleveland Indians fans!! Go Tribe!!! Love you Shay!

  • Amy October 11, 2016 at 7:30 am

    Wow, I read this and thought the whole time about how blessed this litter girl is to be in your family. I just love hearing about her progress and how she has become part of your family. Prayers for good news from her doctors appts.

  • Amy October 11, 2016 at 8:02 am

    I am mom to a precious 18 year old little girl who was born developmentally delayed. Every goal and milestone she’s reached (and there have been many!) we celebrate as a family. Reading about your thoughts during play time took me back to those days when I worried and struggled to do everything “right” for her and to encourage development. Looking back I realize I was trying to “fix” it and if I could rewind to those years, I would surely just soak her up, love on her, play with her, give myself the room to just be her mom, and to assure myself that it would be okay. I want to encourage you to try not to worry, but to soak her up just as she is today. “He is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we can ask or imagine.” (Our life verse for our sweet girl)

  • Julie October 11, 2016 at 8:10 am

    We brought our daughter home from China in 2003. She will be 14 in November! I remember how people used to give me their input whether I asked or not. It can be overwhelming to say the least. As I think back on the first year and all of the challenges, I wish that I had listened to my instincts more instead of all of the advice. People mean well and they want to help but “Momma knows best!”
    Time moves so fast! I miss the early days of bonding. We’re talking about high school now! Adoption is a gift from God and birth parents in my opinion. Our daughter is our greatest gift! ❤️

  • Alicia October 11, 2016 at 8:10 am

    I love all your adoptions posts! Thank you for sharing. It has been so sweet to see that Madeley smile develop. I was curious about the language issues. Did Ashby remember anything when you went back to China? Did you learn any mandarin phrases yourself? We have a few books about learning mandarin, but have not really dived in yet. (We are sending our dossier to China in two weeks, prayerfully!) I find the attachment stuff fascinating as well. How long do you think you should just have you and Andrew hold her? Thanks for sharing so much. It is has been so helpful for us in our adoption process!

    • Mix and Match Mama October 11, 2016 at 8:33 am

      Ashby didn’t come home with any Mandarin words herself. She didn’t understand anything when we went back. With Ashby, we tried learning a few phrases but quickly stopped. It became confusing to us to say “drink” in Mandarin and then say it in English to our other kids. We want our girls to always feel like they’re members of our family and it felt like we were making them stand out as different and apart from us…and for us, that didn’t feel right. That didn’t feel like forming an attachment but instead driving a wedge and showing differences when she had not yet even attached. That’s just how we felt. I think it’s worked well with Ashby and hopefully time will tell the same for Madeley.

  • Paula October 11, 2016 at 8:27 am

    Love trumps all! Sweet post!

  • Johanna October 11, 2016 at 8:47 am

    Shay, thanks for your updates and sharing your story! You’ve helped me so much on our adoption journey. We started our process about a year ago and we were recently matched with a little girl from China. We are anxiously waiting now to go pick her up! I love all your updates because it helps me envision what it might be like (even though all adoptions are different)! I look forward to reading all your updates! Thank you!

  • Alyssa Passmore October 11, 2016 at 8:54 am

    Oh my goodness! The story about her rocking herself to sleep brought me to tears. Thank God for people like you who save these little children. She is so blessed to be with your family and it is obvious you feel just as blessed to be her mama.

  • Donna S October 11, 2016 at 8:55 am

    Madeley has come so far in such a short time! You are such a good mom. Blessings to you and your family 🙂

  • Natalie Clark October 11, 2016 at 9:14 am

    She is just the sweetest! You’re right…she seems so much smaller than Ashby when y’all adopted her.

    You’ve done this mom thing a whole lot longer than I have, but I am a former teacher and I have had those same thoughts and the anxiety of wondering where my little one should be right now and what she needs to know. It helped me a whole lot to schedule 2-3 activities for her throughout the week. It totally stressed me out just being at home with her all the time because I felt like I had to do it all. Library story time and toddler time have been a lifesaver for my sanity! Plus, I feel like I got to see her grow and have been so reassured that she is just fine, just like sweet Madeley is!

  • Lindsey October 11, 2016 at 9:18 am

    I don’t know why but today’s post has made me think now more than ever that our family has to adopt. Reading about Madeley rocking at night tore my heart into pieces. All I can think is “that’s not ok. We can’t have that happen to our babies.” They are our babies, our responsibilty and we can’t stop until they are all well-loved!!! If we don’t do it, who will??

  • Shevonne Leigh Collins October 11, 2016 at 9:28 am

    You & Your husband are really just true life hero’s
    For as much as Madeley is your gift & blessing, what you have done not once But twice to change the lives of these precious little girls!

    I am so happy to read how well she is doing & how in just 3 short weeks( although very tiring & ling for you all) Madeley is already making such amazing progress – I read a post on A Healthy Slice of Life – All about not allowing the 1 thing to rob us of our Mommyhood Joy – go read it & “Try” not compare – Madeley will be on track before you know it with all the Love; Affection & Prayers your family give her ????????????

  • Frannie October 11, 2016 at 9:28 am

    I love reading about your beautiful family. I never comment and just wanted to reaffirm what you are saying about spending time with her. I work in Early Intervention- with children just like Madeley. Follow your instincts of playing with her and just being with her and building the bond. That is the foundation for any learning- and research shows children learn more through play and just the regular old routine interactions they have with their families- like when you talk with them while you cook, interact with them at the grocery store, changing their diapers, bathtime, bedtime, reading with the big kids… that is when they learn, much much more than when you decide, “ok, it’s playtime, we’re going to learn about shapes.” I don’t know about the Early Intervention program where you live, but we work with children up to age 3. All states do it a little differently with the federal funding and mandates. I love the peek into your family- thanks for sharing!

  • Lindsay D. October 11, 2016 at 9:51 am

    I love your blog! It made me so sad to think of her rocking herself to sleep and all of the other orphans who are all alone in this world. God bless you all!!

  • April Parrish October 11, 2016 at 9:55 am

    Sending lots of prayers for sweet Madeley!!! She’s just adorable! God Bless! ????

  • Angela Ellingson October 11, 2016 at 10:04 am

    I love these posts! You are so eloquent. And you are such an amazing mama! Oh sweet Madeley! Love her already!

  • Rebecca Jo October 11, 2016 at 10:12 am

    Oh my goodness… the rocking thing. Made me choke up. Those poor babies that are still in orphanages rocking themselves every night to sleep. My heart.

  • Michelle N. October 11, 2016 at 10:14 am

    Every time you start to feel she has so far to go to catch up with her peers remember how far she has already come. This blog is your forever reminder. Thank you for sharing your family with us.

  • Lia Gasparotto October 11, 2016 at 11:25 am

    What a blessing from God for Madeley and your family! Adoption is truly amazing. God has put adoption on my family’s heart, any good books you can recommend on the topic?

    • Mix and Match Mama October 11, 2016 at 2:04 pm

      I love anything by Karen Purvis and Forever Mom by Mary Ostyn :).

  • Jasmin October 11, 2016 at 11:36 am

    Hi Shay,

    I love love love these post adoption posts so much! I always look forward to reading your posts– it’s one of the first things I do in the morning. 🙂 Thank you for letting us in to your precious family and sharing the highs and lows with us.

  • Carole October 11, 2016 at 11:52 am

    Wow, I’ve never really thought about your paragraph on attachment, but it makes a lot of sense. How long until grandparents and others can hold her? I assume it’s just a feeling that the time is right, but how do you know?

    • Mix and Match Mama October 11, 2016 at 2:02 pm

      That’s kind of what we did with Ashby. I wish there was some exact number of days/weeks/months, but we just waited until everything seemed right.

  • Erica October 11, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    Love these posts! As an adoptive mama I get the worry, we want the absolute best for our babies and want them to succeed in all areas. I think you are right to worry about the rocking for self soothing. She will overcome that as she becomes more secure in her attachment with you. Do you give her a bottle at night and rock her? Basically the best information I received was to treat her like an infant, holding, rocking, eye contact when feeding etc. Get a baby carrier (Tula or Ergo and wear her everywhere! The best book written (on adoption and attachment in my opinion) is The Connected Child by Karen Purvis. Thanks for sharing your journey with us!

  • Connie Warner October 11, 2016 at 1:12 pm

    So eXcited for your family– adoptions are Wonderful! The days we adopted our 2 kids (here in Texas) were as Awesome as the days our other 2 kids were born! It’s fantastic because your Family grows… more LoVe! I wish y’all all the best in the future~ ????????

  • MARIE October 11, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    I love reading your blog Shay! Madeley is so beautiful! Thanks for letting us follow your journey, you really seem like a great mama! God bless all of you

  • Megan Butler October 11, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    Oh my goodness!! These are my favorite posts! I love how you can see just in her face how far she has come in a month! It’s the sweetest. And the part about her rocking herself to sleep makes me just want to cry. Sweet baby! So glad she has her forever family!!! Love yall!!!

  • Erin October 11, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    Shay! I love these posts I found your blog when you adopted Ashby and your adoption posts move my heart more than you know. I am curious you referenced some books you have read on adoption, have you shared them before? As we pray about things, I would love to read some things but there is A LOT out there! Thanks for any book recs you can give. Also…I got choked up with the “4000 I love you’s”. Much love and thanks for sharing your heart!

  • Jordan Meline October 11, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    I can’t believe its already been a month! She is such a doll and I am so happy to hear the transition into the Shull Tribe is going so well! Prayers for great doctors appointments and the wisdom of the doctors to guide you in the best direction of care for that baby girl.

  • Kaylee October 11, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    I just came across this podcast on another blog I read, and kept thinking I should share this with you while I was listening. It’s about a mom and her adoption journeys with her three kids. The little miracles that happened and knowing when they were looking in the wrong direction and such. Anyways, thought you might be interested in listening. It’s a very touching bunch of stories. 🙂

  • Emily October 11, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    So precious. She is such a spcial little girl and I am so thankful she now has her very own loving family.

  • Jenni October 11, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    In reply to your comment that Ashby at 2.5 and Madeley at 23 months being so different….you are so right! I have a 19 month old and a friend with a 28 month old and I can’t believe how different they are with regards to talking, singing, doing motions, etc. She’ll get there!

  • Jeanie October 11, 2016 at 5:50 pm

    It sounds like she is doing great, and she seems so happy. Is it wrong that I love those pictures of her where she’s so somber-looking? She just looks so cute in them. Shay, you are lucky you are not a worrier. It’s not fun. You sound like the best mama ever, and all your kids are so lucky to have you. And Andrew, too! I mean, the kids are lucky to have Andrew also, but Andrew is lucky to have you, too! However you want to take that sentence…

  • Rachel Broas October 11, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    She is really the cutest- she seems to be getting along with the kiddos so well! I cannot wait to meet her one day! Tell all the kids hello for me. They are getting so big! I am so glad things are going well with her.

    Praying for you all and her always!

    Rachel Broas

  • Emily October 11, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    If Madeley likes stacking you should get tobbles! (I promise I’m not affiliated with them :)) my girlfriend gave my son some as a gift, he’s still too young for them but I love stacking them (haha!!) and he loves knocking them down

  • Michcelle October 11, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    I really admire you a lot for adopting two other children. I don’t know very many if any who would do what your family has done for these children.

  • Melissa October 11, 2016 at 9:18 pm

    It’s obvious you’re following your heart and can tell what is best for your sweet family!

  • Debbie Dunbar October 11, 2016 at 9:33 pm

    I think you are doing everything that you can to help Madeley adjust and attach. You are showing her love and that is by far the most important thing. She will catch up in time and you will forget that you even struggled with this. Keep praying and loving and all will work out in God’s timing.

  • Shan October 11, 2016 at 10:16 pm

    I speak Cantonese and my husband is Portuguese so when we had our first son, it was a tough decision whether we wanted to have him learn either of the 2. They are both such different languages and because neither of us could speak the other we decided to stick with english (same with my 2nd son). People judge but it was our decision to make- as parents we must make some hard decisions. You are a beautiful wonderful loving mom doing your best (and quite remarkably I might add) so don’t ever think otherwise ❤️

  • Sharon October 12, 2016 at 5:32 am

    What seems like a big difference is now Madeley is smiling all the time now. Maybe she did smile at first, but just not in pictures when you first got her. So amazing what love can do <3. It sounds like she came from an orphanage where she was more neglected than Ashby with her rocking, three bottles a day, inability to sit up, etc… I bet she changes so much this year with nutrition, love, attention, etc… I would be stressing too! Ashby seems like our daughter… she was pretty much developmentally on target except for areas like language, but our daughter came from a "good" orphanage from China… Do you think that's a difference between the Ashby and Madeley?

    We made the same decision as you about language for our daughter from China. We got her home when she had just turned 3 and like Ashby, she had very little Chinese. Some simple phrases like "thank you", "hello", "all done", "airplane", etc… in Mandarin. We get that question all the time too about keeping her language, but like you feel she had very little to keep. And since she was and still is language delayed at one year home (but doing great), feel like focusing on her learning English is the priority so she can catch up with her peers. I would love for her to know Mandarin and have the ability to converse in it, but it's not a priority at this time… Especially since my Chinese American friend whose parents both speak fluent Chinese and had her in Chinese lessons her entire life, said she only speaks at a first grade level….

    I also, love that you make sure your husband has one on one time with Madeley. We haven't done that and our daughter is definitely more bonded to me, but loves her dad. But she will cry and even ask to go to bed early to make sure I'm the one putting her to bed. Wondering if I should make sure they have some alone Daddy and her time… We have daddy time, but it's with us all together…

    Love your monthly updates!

    • Mix and Match Mama October 12, 2016 at 5:36 am

      Thank you so much for the thoughts Sharon. I really wish we would have been able to visit Madeley’s orphanage…because yes, I feel like even though Ashby’s was larger (with a bigger kid to nanny ratio) that it was probably “better”. Madeley also came home covered in bed bug bites and didn’t know what teeth brushing was…and Ashby did not and could brush her teeth. Little things like that add up as well. I guess I’ll never know…but I speculate myself. xo

  • Aubrey October 12, 2016 at 6:56 am

    I can’t believe it’s already been a month! But the physical changes make it seem like it’s been much longer. Amazing what love, attention, and proper nutrition can do!

  • April October 12, 2016 at 8:15 am

    What a beautiful post! Madeley is one lucky girl to be part of such a loving family!! I don’t anyone can dispute the love there! I totally get the language thing. We have friends who the wife is from Mexico and the dad is from Russia. Their English is not the best. When they had their children, because they were with the mom and nannies the most, they speak fluent Spanish and English but they understand completely Russian. Both children were delayed in speaking because of the multiple languages. Their comprehension was 100% but their speech was delayed. Do what’s best for you and your family! It definitely seems like you’ve got this down!!! 🙂

  • Jenny October 12, 2016 at 9:36 am

    I loved reading how you all are doing and how she’s adjusting. What a sweetheart! I can’t believe it’s already been a month.

  • Dianna October 12, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    She is so darn cute and doesn’t look little in the pictures. I am curious…What size clothes is she in? The rocking thing made me tear up. I can imagine you get overwhelmed at times but she looks happy and it sounds like you are doing an awesome job! Keep it up, Mama!

  • Olivia October 14, 2016 at 12:16 am

    Love conquers all! 🙂 Give her love and God will equip you. She’s adorable.

  • Jeri Bills October 14, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    It makes me so happy to see that child just smiling now. She looked so sad when she first joined your family. What joy!

  • Bethany October 17, 2016 at 1:35 am

    You are so right! That baby just needs love and she has it!

  • Ann October 17, 2016 at 11:49 pm

    Hi Shay! I just wanted you to be aware, in case you are not, that Madeley’s constant pointing may be her way of asking the names of things. My daughter did this starting at eight months through Madeley’s age and beyond. We thought it was a game at first. When she’d point at us, we would touch her finger and pretend like we got a shock and laugh. Our pediatrician enlightened us. Apparently, our daughter wanted to know the names of the things she pointed at even though she could not yet talk. We obliged and would tell her the names of what she pointed at. It was tiring for us, but at 4 years old she tested as gifted.

  • Sterling Barnett November 4, 2016 at 10:38 am

    I loved catching up on your blog! We were in China in June adopting our daughter Grace Mei! I had tears seeing your pictures! We also stayed at the Garden! Thank you for sharing your journeys and raising awareness on adoption!!