Madeley Post Adoption: Month 9


On Sunday, we will celebrate 9 months with this sweet girl!


Words cannot even begin to express how much has changed over the last 9 months.  We were handed this precious little girl back on September 11th who was cute as can be…but she was kind of in a shell.  She didn’t make eye contact, smile or really engage at all.  Over the last 9 months, we’ve seen her little personality open up and she is THE LIFE OF THE PARTY.  Madeley James is funny, quick witted, smart, and an absolute delight to have in our family.  We all adore her more than I ever thought possible.  We needed her.


I hate to say this…because I don’t want to be unfair to the other three, but this kid is the easiest of all the Shull babies (sorry Smith, she beats you!).  Now, at first, when we got home, just having four kiddos was an adjustment and of course, we went through that phase where she got into everything (pots and pans, my retainer, Legos, the 750-count box of q-tips…), but her personality has always been SO EASY.  Madeley wakes up happy, she plays happy all day, she’s happy in the car, she’s happy to take a nap, she’s happy to eat, happy to run errands, happy to swim…JUST HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY!


Her vocabulary has exploded over the last two months.  She has way too many words to count.  She says things that surprise me all the time!  Just Saturday, she asked for a high five and when I went to give her one, she pulled her hand away and said “too slow”.  What?!  When did she learn that trick?!? #smith


Madeley loves to play with certain things at home: the dress up plastic shoes, her stroller and baby doll, her magnetic shapes and Little People Barn.  And she loves to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.


Nine months ago, she didn’t have a family, and now, she has actual friends!  She knows Bowen, Britt, Abigail, Libby and Willow are all her friends and talks about them at home all the time.  She also loooooooooves her baby cousin Samuel.  He might be her favorite thing EVER.  (That and Tab…she adores her some Tab!)


Madeley still loves her a high-protein diet.  She requests eggs for breakfast every morning (and often for lunch too!).  She really has very little interest in sweet things but prefers all the savory (just like her big sister Ashby).  We joke that Ashby’s mom must have eaten nothing but vegetables while she was pregnant with Ashby and that Madeley’s mom ate nothing but sausage. Ha!


She is a mama’s girl…but looooooves to tell me that she’s a daddy’s girl and then she’ll laugh her little head off.  She is at my side all day long, but I don’t mind one bit.  Who can resist this face?!


These kids mean the world to me.  Nine months ago, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.  We had initially set out to adopt a boy from India but felt the Lord strongly tell us that we were supposed to head back to China for another girl.  HOW GREAT IS GOD?!  I needed this girl.  I didn’t even know that I needed her, but I did!  When I look into her little eyes, I see us!  She is a Shull through and through (a Shull with a much better tan, but a Shull nonetheless!).  She fills our house with constant humor, giggles, laughing and fun.  She is such a JOY and we count ourselves grateful to be entrusted with her care.

Adoption is amazing.  Adoption builds families.  Adoption has changed us all for the better.  Adoption made me these two girls’ mama and for that, I will always be incredibly thankful.

It’s been just the best nine months 🙂 .

To see some other post adoption posts, just look below…

Madeley Post Adoption: Month 8

Madeley Post Adoption: Month 7

Madeley Post Adoption: Month 6

Madeley Post Adoption: Month 5

Madeley Post Adoption: Month 4

Madeley Post Adoption: Month 3

Madeley Post Adoption: Month 2

Madeley Post Adoption: Month 1

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:

Ashby’s Gotcha Day {Second Anniversary}

Post Adoption: Month 21

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

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  • Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog June 7, 2017 at 4:41 am

    Happy 9 months to you and your family!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • Amy Heinl June 7, 2017 at 5:40 am

    Such a joyful little girl….her smile is so infectious. Happy 9th month anniversary Shull 6

  • Narci Dreffs June 7, 2017 at 5:42 am

    Oh, Madeley! You are such a precious girl! Your adorable smile and your joy for life is contagious!! We love you so much!

  • Bailey June 7, 2017 at 5:57 am

    I love all the faces MJ makes in pics! She seems like such a little ham. And her tan!!! Thanks for sharing!

  • Brittany Medland June 7, 2017 at 6:01 am

    “A Shull with a much better tan”- Haah! I love it. Little Madeley is just so sweet, and so are the other three!

  • Megan June 7, 2017 at 6:05 am

    I love these posts! Our little lady is a protein addict too. For lunch this week she asked for ham, chicken, bologna, pepperoni and salami. We should just install a deli counter for her (and no she did not get all of that for one meal 😉 I can’t wait to bring home our newest little one and learn all of her personality quirks as well.

  • KimW June 7, 2017 at 6:13 am

    ALL the heart emojis for this post!! LOVE to see how happy Madeley is and how her sweet face has lit up over the last 9 months. Really awesome to see!!

  • Carly June 7, 2017 at 6:13 am

    Madeley! What a blessing you are , so seeing how perfectly you fit into your forever family. I can’t wait to see her summer tan 🙂

  • Toni :0) June 7, 2017 at 6:21 am

    So wonderful! Her eyes even smile with joy. Such a blessing and a priceless gift to your family.

  • Erika Slaughter June 7, 2017 at 6:37 am

    Oh my heart!!! We love that girl big over here! I’ve got a house full of Madeley fans! Her personality is so contagious and she can turn anyone’s bad day into a day full of smiles.

  • Brooke Richardson June 7, 2017 at 6:50 am

    Madeley is so precious and sweet, I can hardly take it! I just love that girl. What a blessing she is to everyone!

  • Lizzie @ This Happy Life June 7, 2017 at 6:54 am

    Oh my goodness she is the sweetest! I love that she pulled the high five trick on you!

  • Ashley June 7, 2017 at 6:57 am

    Hi Shay! I seem to remember you saying a while back that you first felt called to adopt at church. I was wondering, does your church have an adoption ministry? Our church started one a few years back that supports orphanages through giving and we also started a support group for adoptive and foster families. Perhaps the most amazing part of the ministry is that each year, we select 3-4 families within our church who want to adopt and fund their adoptions. So many families want to adopt but aren’t financially able. It has been incredible watching our giving bring orphans into families! It’s also been a wonderful way for those who aren’t called to adopt but want to help serve others within our church body. I’m not sure if yours has this, but with your experience and passion I could totally see you starting something like it!
    Thank you so sharing all of these updates with us. It has been so wonderful watching these sweet girls grow!

  • Melissa Hefner June 7, 2017 at 7:12 am

    This is a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Sheaffer Sims June 7, 2017 at 7:16 am

    I remember talking on the phone with you during the first several weeks Madeley was home and her always being in to EVERYTHING. My favorite Madeley memory is when you tried to give her chicken and broccoli for lunch and she politely closed the container and quietly pushed it away. NO THANK YOU, M’AM. 🙂 Love that girl!

  • Laci June 7, 2017 at 7:28 am

    I have obviously never met Madeley but let me tell you-her pictures let us all know she is life of the party! What a cutie!!

  • Lisa D June 7, 2017 at 7:32 am

    Your pictures of your family are wonderful! What a sweet bunch of kids.

  • Andrea June 7, 2017 at 7:45 am

    I dont think I’ve ever seen Madeley NOT happy!!! She could not be cuter!

  • Paula June 7, 2017 at 7:48 am

    Awww..what a sweet post . Madeley is a doll.

  • Laura June 7, 2017 at 7:57 am

    Madeley is such a cutie! I absolutely love reading your adoption updates. God put my family together with adoption too (I have two adopted siblings). I’m so thankful for how He creates families!

  • Kendra June 7, 2017 at 7:59 am

    She is seriously the cutest thing ever! Joy just pours from her little face!

  • Whitney Pegram June 7, 2017 at 8:06 am

    She is such a doll!!

  • Tara June 7, 2017 at 8:07 am

    She has completed your family in every way! God Bless!

  • Francie June 7, 2017 at 8:13 am

    Thank you Shay for being so heroic and adopting this sweet child! Madeley looks so happy, you are truly an inspiration.

  • DonnaS June 7, 2017 at 8:21 am

    Your kids are lucky to have you too. You seem like such a patient and loving mom! May God bless your family always!

  • Jacqueline June 7, 2017 at 8:28 am

    Her little face is just the cutest! I love the way you talk about all of your kiddos, you can really feel all the love you have for them through your words. They’re all so lucky to have you as a mama!

  • Lesley McFarland June 7, 2017 at 8:41 am

    Are you sure it’s been 9 months. It’s just like yesterday I was reading your china post but again I feel like she has always been a Shull. Thank you for sharing her with us!!

  • April Parrish June 7, 2017 at 8:42 am

    I cry every time with these sweet posts!!! It seriously pulls at my heart strings. Thank you for sharing!!

  • Dana June 7, 2017 at 8:48 am

    I just love your adoption stories!! I have seen so many sad adoption stories and it has really been an encouragement to see your girls thriving. I think it’s important for anyone considering adoption to know that reactive attachment disorder is a real issue and to read books on the topic (like you recommended Forever Mom, it was really good!) before you take the plunge. There are definitely happy endings, but a little understanding of children coming from trauma backgrounds (any child taken from his or her biological parents has sadly gone through trauma, and some children have gone through much more than that). I am so encouraged by how well your girls have adjusted and am thrilled that you are encouraging others to adopt!

  • Carol June 7, 2017 at 8:53 am

    Shay, thanks for showing the world how important just being with your kids and loving on them is. You and your family are incredible role models. I have raised my kids now but hope they build loving families like yours. God Bless You All.

  • Lindsay D June 7, 2017 at 8:55 am

    You have a gorgeous family!! Such a blessing!!

  • Leslie June 7, 2017 at 9:10 am

    Love this! I adore your family and love reading posts like this. Is there anything you all have struggled with after adopting both girls? Your posts make it seem so easy! I was just curious because my friend recently adopted from China and they have had a very different experience.

    • Mix and Match Mama June 7, 2017 at 9:13 am

      I hate to hear that. I would say that the vast majority of adoptions I’ve witnessed around my community (and there have been a ton) have been very positive. Off of the top of my head, I can only think of two that were quite difficult. Unfortunately, I think we often hear more about the hard adoptions than the easier ones. Both of our adoptions have gone tremendously well. I have no idea what the future holds (both girls could reject us/adoption/living in the US/etc as they get older), but for now, we’re in a really good place.

    • Julie June 7, 2017 at 11:06 am

      I think it’s important to point out that adoptions can be both really hard and really good. And a lot of what you hear and read depends on how the person is portraying their situations. I would say since bringing our girls home we’ve dealt with a ton of really hard stuff in regards to transitioning to a family of four and past trauma. But I would still classify our experience as really good, even with all the heard, really heartbreaking stuff.

  • ALI J BISHOP June 7, 2017 at 9:39 am


  • Corbie June 7, 2017 at 9:42 am

    This post made my heart so happy today! 🙂

  • Suzi Mad June 7, 2017 at 9:52 am

    You can definitely see her personality come through just by looking at her pictures!! I love her smile! So genuine and adorable. So wonderful of you to open your home to both girls, and its as if your family did not skip a beat, they fit right in as they are meant to be. God Bless!!

  • Amanda @ That Inspired Chick June 7, 2017 at 9:52 am

    I love that cutie pie!!! She makes me laugh every time I see her! I love that she gave you a “too slow”! Funny funny girl! Happy 9 months!!

    That Inspired Chick

  • Susie June 7, 2017 at 9:54 am

    So cute! On an unrelated note, have you ever tried spinning classes – either at your gym, soul cycle or flywheel (if there are any of those near you)?

    • Mix and Match Mama June 7, 2017 at 2:54 pm

      I used to do spinning all the time! I stopped because the times it was offered at my gym weren’t ideal for me any more. I loved it though!

  • Brittany Hensley June 7, 2017 at 9:56 am

    This post gives me ALL the smiles!! She is just adorable & oh so happy!! Thanks for sharing your journey with us!

  • Rebecca Jo June 7, 2017 at 10:11 am

    I feel like the post went up where you just got her. Amazing.
    My mom is still a TAB drinker… have Madeley go over to her house any time & they can have a TAB date together 😉 My mom has plenty

  • Kristen Lewis June 7, 2017 at 10:21 am

    I love reading your post about adoption! My family is going through an adoption and we received our sweet girl on 9/11 too. Our story is a little different as we are adopting a family members child and it wont be official until the end of summer but I just love reading about other families journeys to complete their family. I thought we were done with one boy and one girl. But God had different plans for us and I am so glad. Happy 9 months!

  • Sarah @ Foxy's Domestic Side June 7, 2017 at 10:36 am

    Happy 9 months, so sweet. Your family is just the best!

  • April June 7, 2017 at 10:54 am

    This brought happy tears to my eyes.

  • Melissa June 7, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    She is just so darn precious! I love seeing pictures of her sweet smiling face!

  • Liz Thorson June 7, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    Shay, this post makes my heart sing for Madeley and your entire family and friends! What a happy post, filled with such pure delight! I went back and read your 1st 3 posts and I cried multiple times when you shared facts like Madeley not being able or willing to sit up, that she only had 3 bottles a day for almost 2 yrs., that she rocked herself to sleep, that she may have been in such physical distress when she was found on the police station steps, and how you’d sit on the floor with her early on, contemplating and worrying about how far behind she was in all areas. What a lucky little girl to have such a patient, loving family and I am so thrilled you all adore her. Does Ashby still think it’s wonderful to be a big sister and one of your “big” kids, now? Do she and Madeley play together or is your family dynamics Kennsington/Madeley, Smith/ Ashby, as you’ve inferred a few times? Are Ashby and Bowen still besties? We have two adopted sons, now 28 and 33! Families are created in so many ways! Happy Summer to you, Shay!❤️

    • Mix and Match Mama June 7, 2017 at 2:53 pm

      Bowen and Ashby are inseparable!!! And yes, they all play together really well…and pester each other too :).

  • Shelby Elyse Taylor June 7, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Wow! When I look at Madeley + Ashby i see the beauty of grace!!! Thanks Jesus!

    P.S. shay – i saw on sean’s instagram that your fam is headed on an alaskan cruise?? If you end up anywhere near anchorage let me know + we can hang!! haha! ?

  • Megan Butler June 7, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    Has Madeley been watching Trolls?? My boys say – “High five, too slow” allll the time!!!

  • Debbie Dunbar June 7, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    She is just so adorable! Happy for you all!

  • haley @Cupcakes and Sunshine June 7, 2017 at 6:37 pm

    So sweet!! So happy!! Loving these sweet Madeley posts!!

  • Maria D. June 7, 2017 at 9:01 pm

    Happy 9 month Adoptaversary! Madeley has certainly become a big part of your family and I look forward to all of the kid pictures every day!

  • Erin Port June 8, 2017 at 7:26 pm

    Oh man I just love love love these posts. I sound like a broken record but man oh man adoption is AMAZING. Thanks for sharing your journey with us! xoxo ERIN

  • Michelle June 11, 2017 at 11:44 am

    I love your adoption posts the most ❤️. You’ve been a huge inspiration to me as we’ve been traveling through the ups and downs of the adoption process the last year. As I write this I am in the hospital holding a precious baby girl that God willing will become our daughter tomorrow. Thanks, Shay, for your honesty and encouragement to others walking this same scary road. Adoption is indeed so worth it.

  • Kacy June 12, 2017 at 9:49 pm

    Love love love!

  • Detroit Duchess June 17, 2017 at 9:34 pm

    What a bundle of pure joy! I’m so glad that you found her and Ashby! I remember seeing their first pictures when you first met them and the difference is amazing! You have definitely changed their lives and them yours. <3

  • Tina June 29, 2017 at 10:52 am

    I just love these posts! It brings tears to my eyes to see how happy Ashby and Madely are. Do you have tips on how you teach your little ones boundaries and such? I find it hard to let my little one roam freely around the house without me constantly getting her out of things, especially with older siblings around to leave “dangerous” items lying around. I don’t want to cage her in, but want her to be safe as well.

    • Mix and Match Mama June 29, 2017 at 1:57 pm

      I guess I really just try and have as much up and not within reach as possible. My older kids don’t keep craft supplies and such in their room, so scissors and things like that are always up high in the kitchen. I don’t know? I guess I really try hard to just keep it a safe place to play.

      • Tina June 29, 2017 at 3:49 pm

        Thank you for responding! I try and do the same. We have a gate at the entrance of our hallway, so that she can’t get into the bathrooms…or her brother’s room with all the legos (& whatever else might be a choking hazard). However, when that gate opens, she goes crazy trying to get to everything she possibly can and as fast as she can.☺️ So, she’s kind of a bird out of a cage. I wondered if you had come up with a way to keep Madely from getting into the Legos and dumping things out of cabinets. We have a little surprise on the way. So, I’m about to learn how to juggle two babies at once and need all the tips I can get.☺️😅