Madeley’s Gotcha Day {1st Anniversary}

One year ago today, we got our Madeley James.

It’s so hard to believe that it’s only been a year because I really cannot remember how our family survived without her…but on the other hand, I remember that day like it was yesterday.

We had arrived in Jinan, China the night before and that next morning when we woke up, we were just so excited to meet this sweet girl whose picture we had been staring at for months.  The orphanage had sent us this one little video of her in July, and I probably watched it a thousand times.  I would watch that video and just wonder what it was going to be like to be her mama.

Our translator told us that later in the afternoon, they would be bringing our little girl to our hotel room…so we waited.  And waited.  And then…

…they arrived.  Oh my word!  They handed me this sweet little squishy thing and I was IN LOVE.  Just like Ashby, she cried a little at the beginning and wouldn’t make eye contact, smile or lean into us, but my heart was happy to finally have my girl in my arms.  She was 23 months old and had been living in this orphanage since she was found at two months.  She was almost two and yet on an all formula diet and had never had solid foods.  She could walk, but she had a hard time just sitting up on her bottom (because she probably just laid on the ground a lot) and she was covered from head to toe in bed bug bites.  She was content sitting in our laps and liked to watch the big kids play around her, but she looked sad too…I can’t even imagine how confused and scared she was.

After dinner and a bath, we took our first picture with all four kiddos.  Andrew and I just couldn’t get enough of her.  She fell asleep on the bed after this and we just sat there and stared at her.  We had so many questions in our heads about who this kiddo was and how she was going to fit into our family dynamic…but for the moment, we just stared…and smiled…A LOT!

Miss Madeley had decided to remain stoic while we were in China.  She was figuring us out and deciding whether or not she could trust us with her heart.  Her precious little heart that had been living in an orphanage without a family for 21 months.

And slowly, as the days passed in China, she started opening up to us.  She started trusting us with her heart.

We arrived back home as a family of six and our lives have never been the same since.

I asked all of the Shulls to tell me their thoughts on Madeley and here are our answers…

Kensington: Madeley has always been my sister.  Not just this year, but before that.  God knew she was my sister and I love her so much.

Smith: Madeley is the highlight of our family.


Ashby: I love playing with her because she’s so funny and so silly.

Andrew: She has been my ray of sunshine.  Whenever I feel tired, or sad, or angry, or cranky, she always has a way of being positive and pulling me out of it without even talking.  Her soul is just happy.

Shay: Madeley is just JOY!  She is the happiest, easiest, cuddliest kid I’ve ever known.  She loves so big, and we are all so blessed to receive her love every single day.  This past year has been the very best year for our family.  She has completed us in a way I didn’t know we needed to be completed.  She is the exclamation point on our family.

On our one month adoption update with Madeley, we answered the following questions (you can see that post HERE).  Here are the answers today, 11 months later…

1: Language- I feel like Madeley has a fantastic grasp on her language and communicating.  She strings three or four word sentences together all the time and says things daily that surprise me.  Her receptive language is spot on too.  However, put her next to another kid in her Sunday school class or her preschool class and you realize how far behind she still is.  She’s almost three, so we’re far behind…but I feel like she’s making HUGE strides every day.  Our social worker came for our one year check in last week and was very impressed by how well she is speaking and even more impressed by her role playing activities (she can pretend to drink tea or be a mommy, things like that).  We have a long way to go to get her “caught up”, but I feel like we’re making progress every day.

2: Physical Development- I would say that physically, she’s probably caught up to other almost three year olds.  She climbs up and down the stairs independently, she gets in and out of her bed on her own, she rides a tricycle, she runs, she tries to jump…she’s a very active little girl.  She’s very small for her age…but that might just be her.  She’s grown about 4 inches since we’ve received her and gained 7 pounds…so physically, she’s growing and thriving.

3: Sleeping- She’s a rock star.  She sleeps in the bottom bunk in her room with Ashby every night for a solid 12 to 13 hours plus she takes anywhere from a 3 to 4 hour nap every day.  She’s a fantastic sleeper!  Wait for it…she’ll even tell us when she’s ready to go to bed too.  To hear her little voice say “I go night night” makes my mama heart just melt.  Yeah, she gets an A+ for sleeping.

4: Food- For a kid who never tasted solid food until one year ago today, she has mastered the art of eating.  Especially meat.  This kid doesn’t want the sweet stuff (don’t bother buying her a popsicle or ice cream, she’s not going to eat it), but if you see a corn dog stand, get her two.  She loves all things PROTEIN.  Eggs, chicken, beef, pork, sausage…she loves that stuff!  She does not eat fruit (I’ve gotten her to eat a banana a few times but other than that, she will not eat fruit) and she only enjoys veggies if they’re cooked and soft (or  those veggie packs that look like applesauce).  She loves certain carbs: pasta, rice and French fries…but seriously, she’d rather have more meat.  This is our carnivore 😉 .

5: Attachment- This is the one thing we worried about most with both adoptions…and for good reason!  You often hear so many horrible stories revolving around that one little word.  Madeley is VERY attached to all of us.  She attached quickly and hasn’t shown any signs of regression.  That being said, she DAILY has moments with me that really reinforce her background.  Our social worker said it best last week…Madeley doesn’t mind leaving me, but she does not want me to leave.  Let me explain, if I’m holding Madeley she WILL NOT go to you.  Period.  If Andrew takes her from me, she loses her mind.  But, if I sit her down on the floor and Andrew walks in the door, she runs right up to him and cuddles and kisses him.  She just does not want anyone taking her from me.  Not even her dad.  If I need to leave the house, I have to have her on the ground before I walk out the door.  I cannot pick her up and say bye.  If I say bye while she is playing/doing something else, she doesn’t care.  She’ll wave and say “bye mama” with all smiles…but if I pick her up and cuddle her and then tell her I’m leaving, she will lay on the floor and scream her head off.  She walks into school all smiles saying “bye mama” and blowing kisses, but if they were to try and take her from me, she would scream.  She decides on her own to separate from me, but no one else is taking her away.  Attachment is complicated.

6: Poppy- She loves the dog.  She also loves to boss the dog around.  She is often telling Poppy to “get out” just because I think she likes the power 😉 .  The dog listens.

7: Potty Training- She is 100% potty trained.  She even sleeps in undies.

8: Going Out- She loves to go and do and see.  She is friendly, loves to wave and say hi, loves to ride in her stroller, but also loves to walk and pretend she’s a big girl.  She is VERY social!

9: Playing- We play a lot at our house!  Her favorite things to play with are these magnetic shapes we have.  She loves to carry them around (we have them in a big Ziploc bag) and then dump them out and build things.  I’m actually kind of impressed with what she builds.  She often creates patterns with the shapes and then she’ll want a high five when she’s completed her work.  She also loves the big Duplo Legos too.  She loves stuffed animals but not really Barbies or dolls (that’s Ashby’s thing!).  She love, love, loves for me to read her books and then often “reads” them herself too.  Anything that makes noises or lights up, she loves too.  She plays well independently, but would much rather play with one of the other kids.

Here are a few other little tidbits about our Madeley James…

1: She wants me to sing her Jesus Loves Me before she goes to sleep…and she sings along with me too.

2: She LOVES to refill the toilet paper at our house.  She owns this job LIKE A BOSS.  If she sees that the roll is just about out, she runs off to get another one and then takes great pride in throwing away the old one and putting the new one back on.  I can even say to her from the kitchen “Hey Madeley, Kensington needs more toilet paper in her bathroom” and she’ll run off to handle the task.  That is HER JOB around the house and don’t you dare take it away from her.  Isn’t that funny?  It makes me laugh!

3: She says “uh oh spaghettiOs” every single time something happens and it cracks me up!  Who taught her that? Clearly she heard it from someone, but it has stuck and she says it several times a day.  It is so darn cute!

4: She also says “thank you, Mama” about a hundred times a day and it melts me.  I can do the littlest thing for her and she’ll say “thank you, Mama”.  How long did she need a mama to help her? How long had she waited for that?  I lose my breath just thinking about it.  Thank you, Mama.  Three little words that I try never to take for granted.

5: We have had her 365 days.  And every single time we’ve laid her down to sleep…whether it be a nap or to go to bed at night…she rocks herself to sleep.  This is such a common behavior that kids from institutionalized settings have and every.single.time she still does it.  She immediately turns to her side and starts rocking herself very hard to sleep.  We can stop her, cuddle her, pick her up and rock her ourselves, but she will ALWAYS end up doing it herself.  How many nights did she rock herself to sleep in that orphanage because she needed someone to do it for her and they just wouldn’t or couldn’t?   So, she learned to self-soothe.  And no matter how many times we’ve tried to soothe her ourselves, she always reverts back to rocking.  It breaks my heart every time.

I often think about the “what ifs”.  What if we wouldn’t have adopted a second time?  What if we would have waited until Ashby had been home longer?  What if we would have gotten a boy instead?  What if?  What if?  What if?  If really boils down to “What if we would have ignored God’s specific calling?” and that my friend, scares me.  We would have missed so much.  Is God calling you to adopt?  I KNOW IT’S SCARY.  I KNOW IT’S EXPENSIVE.  I KNOW THERE ARE SO MANY UNKNOWNS.  I KNOW!  But I also know that I WAS MEANT TO BE THIS CHILD’S MOM AND SHE WAS MEANT TO BE MY DAUGHTER.  We didn’t have the answers when we set out to adopt either time…and there were moments during both adoptions that I could have been talked out of it…because I’m a weak human being with fears and insecurities that often make me not step out on faith…BUT PRAISE JESUS that HE is stronger than my weaknesses because he carried us through this adoption knowing how beautiful it was going to be.  Let Jesus carry you too.  Let Him show you the love that comes from adopting a child.  If He is calling you to do this, LET HIM DO IT.

Our family is not perfect, this kid is not perfect, this adoption has not been perfect…but God has continued to bless us through it with His faithfulness to our situation.  He has loved us, loved her, given us joy, hope and peace that only comes from Him.

I pray daily for both of my girls’ birth moms.  I pray that God can give them a peace in their hearts that lets them know their girls are okay.  Wouldn’t that be a horrible feeling?  To not know.  When I think of Madeley’s situation, I often think of Moses.  Moses was born during a time when baby boys were killed at birth…but his mama held on to him as long as she could and then when she knew she couldn’t hide him any longer, she made a basket, placed him in it and sent him down the Nile with his big sister watching.  Madeley wasn’t abandoned at birth like so many kids across China.  She was abandoned around two months…which means that some mama out there tried to keep her as long as she could.  She held her.  She nursed her.  She looked into those big eyes and probably never wanted to let her go.  But for some reason (a reason we will never know), she had to leave her abandoned two months later.  Oh my word.  I cannot imagine the grief.  Can you?  Can you imagine putting your baby in a basket and walking away?  With every fiber of my being, I know that mom did not do that because she wanted to BUT BECAUSE SHE HAD TO.  I pray for her every day, and I pray the Lord has given her peace that another mother is loving her baby.  Because I do.  I love that baby so much.

If adoption is on your heart, I beg you not to dismiss it.  You think you’re going over there to rescue some kid, but believe me when I say this, they are going to “rescue” your heart more than you could ever imagine.

Before we close out today’s post and I go off to celebrate our One Year Gotcha Day, I thought I’d share some pics of our Madeley James from this past year.  We just love this girl so very much. xo













One year ago, we set out for the first time as a family of six…


And I can say with all certainty, this nugget right here as been just the best thing we’ve ever done to complete our family.  Andrew and I could not love this child more.

Happy Gotcha Day, Madeley James.  You got our hearts.  We love you so much.


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

Madeley Post Adoption: Month 11

Madeley Post Adoption: Month 10

Madeley Post Adoption: Month 9

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 Post Adoption: 2.5 Years

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 September 11, 2017 at 4:42 am

    Happy one year anniversary to Madeley and your family! It’s crazy to know how much has changed and how close you’ve gotten in just one year. Here’s to an even greater year ahead! 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • Susan Jeffries September 11, 2017 at 4:56 am

    This is so very precious. I have so enjoyed following both of your adoptions. We experienced a failed adoption several years ago and it broke my heart too much to try again. So your stories have warmed my heart. Blessings to your sweet family.

  • Megan September 11, 2017 at 5:08 am

    Happy Family Day! I’m reading this post with tears of joy. We just arrived home from China with our newest daughter on Saturday night. And even though I’ve been awake since midnight (thank you jetlag) I’m plagued with the what-ifs as well. I’m so thankful we said yes to His calling. Even when it’s hard and we are overwhelmed. Because we were meant to be a family.

  • Erika Slaughter September 11, 2017 at 5:11 am

    Ahhhhhh!!!! Madeley Shull, you have our hearts too! All five of them…Britt is slowly getting there. :). My favorite thing about Madeley is she’s ALWAYS in a good mood! She’s down for a good time and she wants you to have one too. I’m wondering if I could start borrowing her once a week to replace all the toilet paper in my house. No one in my family likes that job. 🙂

  • Beth September 11, 2017 at 5:12 am

    Happy Gotcha Day Anniversary to sweet Madley! What an amazing blessing to your family!

  • Rachael September 11, 2017 at 5:22 am

    I love reading your blog but especially the adoption updates. They warm my heart. From the mother of one adopted girlxo

  • Cathy September 11, 2017 at 5:22 am

    Such a beautiful story and such a beautiful child. May God Bless her always.

  • Lynn September 11, 2017 at 5:24 am

    Shay ……just wow. There are no words to express just how precious this is…..we have a Good Good Father who is just perfect in all of HIs ways x

  • Elspeth Mizner September 11, 2017 at 5:34 am

    So so sweet! She definitely completes your family! It’s been such a joy to follow her journey this first year! Happy gotcha day!!

  • Rebecca VanDeMark September 11, 2017 at 5:40 am

    Happy Gotcha Day Anniversary to sweet Madeley!! I love hearing the adoption updates!! Thank you so much for sharing with all of us!!

  • Anna September 11, 2017 at 5:41 am

    It breaks my heart to read about Madeley rocking herself. I’ve loved watching her grow and she is blessed to have such loving people around her!

  • Melissa @ Finding My Mojo September 11, 2017 at 5:45 am

    Happy Gotcha Day to you all! I loved reading your blog today, what a sweet, sweet girl she is. I love that she asks you to sing “Jesus loves me” and she sings along with. Cheers to another wonderful year ahead!

  • KimW September 11, 2017 at 5:48 am

    LOVE! She is precious and it makes my heart happy to see how happy and loved Madeley is!! Ashby, too! And just like with Ashby’s gotcha day pictures, it is amazing to watch the transformation in her facial expressions and just overall happiness and comfort as the pictures progress!! Awesome!

  • Sheaffer Sims September 11, 2017 at 5:51 am

    Yes. Yes to everything in this post. Miss Madeley radiates JOY. I get so excited to see her, even when she just waves “hi” or “bye”. But when she says my name, I just about burst with pride. I LOVE THIS GIRL SO MUCH!!!!

  • Stacy September 11, 2017 at 5:58 am

    Beautiful — you can always see her little spirit radiating though all the pictures you post!

  • Kfran September 11, 2017 at 6:00 am

    She is just the cutest little cuddle bug ever!

  • Kelly September 11, 2017 at 6:01 am

    Wow- so many tears of joy for you all while reading these powerful words this morning. You have such a little ray of sunshine with your precious little girl and it is evident that the Lord brought you all together for a reason. Amazing.

  • Narci September 11, 2017 at 6:06 am

    Oh, Madeley! We love you so very much! You are so full of joy, and your smile/giggle/walk get us every single time! We are big fans, sweet girl! What a sweet post, Shay!

  • Amy Heinl September 11, 2017 at 6:09 am

    Happy Gotcha Day sweet Madely James..may God continue to bless you and keep you and this beautiful family you were “born” into one year ago today.

  • Ainee Harmon September 11, 2017 at 6:13 am

    I could not agree more. Adoption is just beauty through tragedy. We finally have our girl home from China, we have been home now 3 days. It is amazing the difference we already see in her since we got her 3 weeks ago. We are so blessed.

  • Mama V @ Snowflakes & Coffeecakes September 11, 2017 at 6:17 am

    This is such a beautiful post – you have such a wonderful way with words! Inspiring to all of us. Wishing you all continued blessings!

  • Margaret September 11, 2017 at 6:18 am

    You are all blessed to have each other! Celebrate !

  • Kelly S September 11, 2017 at 6:23 am

    WOW! That was a fast year. She is precious and perfect. And you work very hard to give her a happy and stable home. It pays off. I wish every child could feel the love of a family. Thanks for sharing the journey. The attachment part was very interesting, and you explained it well.

  • Linda Z September 11, 2017 at 6:25 am

    Madeley’s joy jumps from the pages of your blog. She spreads love. I can’t believe it’s been one year already! Blessings to you and your beautiful family~ ♡♡♡♡♡♡

  • Amanda September 11, 2017 at 6:38 am

    I was waiting for this post and it did not disappoint! What a sweet, special addition to your family. This is when we truly see God at work.

  • Elaine Welte September 11, 2017 at 6:42 am

    So glad to hear that she is doing well! Did you see that one of the Miss america contestamts had been adopted at birth? I thought of you guys because it would have been such an outreach for adoption had she won!

  • Gianna Costello September 11, 2017 at 6:47 am

    Ahh!!! I have been waiting for this post! Madeley just seems like the perfect fit for your family. What a ray of sunshine she is! I’m only 22, but reading your blog for years has truly opened me up to the thought of adoption. I recently watched Find Me (and cried 5 minutes into it!) and it has touched me so much! Thank you for sharing this. It really is God who works through us & I know he’s lead me to read your blog for a reason.

  • Heather Bramlett September 11, 2017 at 6:52 am

    She is So precious. Kensington’s answer that God knew he was already her sister….oh my heart! That was so sweet!

  • Alexis deZayas September 11, 2017 at 7:03 am

    This might be my favorite post you’ve ever written. God knew what he was doing when he gave you that sweet girl. Happy gotcha day Madeley!

  • Brooke Richardson September 11, 2017 at 7:04 am

    All the tears over here this morning! I just cannot get enough of Madeley! She is such a bright light and joy and her smile is absolutely contagious! Love her!

  • Sarah September 11, 2017 at 7:20 am

    She is just so so precious!!

  • kathy Olson September 11, 2017 at 7:24 am

    This is just too precious. I’m so happy for you all.

  • Courtney September 11, 2017 at 7:25 am

    Bless her sweet heart! She is such a ray of sunshine! Thank you so much for sharing this update. It makes my heart melt every time. Happy Gotcha Day, Madeley!

  • Laura @ Laura Likes Design September 11, 2017 at 7:30 am

    This peek back at your experience with adopting Madeley was so inspiring and encouraging to read! So happy that she’s in your family forever!

  • Sarah September 11, 2017 at 7:32 am

    I LOVED this post! It’s unbelievable seeing the change in Madeley over the year. Such a sweet sweet girl!

    P.S. I love your writing style. If you wrote a book, I’d read it in a heart beat!

  • sydnee September 11, 2017 at 7:35 am

    Madeley has progressed so much in one year! It’s amazing how resilient children are! What a great post to start off a Monday. 😉

  • Gina September 11, 2017 at 7:44 am

    Ahhh Smith’s comment had me in tears. What a sweet, sweet little guy you have. This whole post had me emotional. I was adopted and often think of my birth mother (wherever she may be) and pray that she is at peace that I too, am okay and was fortunate to be raised by the most wonderful parents on earth. Thank you for sharing xoxo

  • Whitney Pegram September 11, 2017 at 7:48 am

    Oh my heart!! That girl is too sweet! I love these posts!

  • Annie September 11, 2017 at 7:58 am

    Hi! Do you use your iPhone for those pictures of your little outside?! They are so cute but look so well done! Just curious! Love this post and Madeley is adorable!


    • Mix and Match Mama September 11, 2017 at 12:19 pm

      Yes 🙂

  • Laci September 11, 2017 at 7:59 am

    Just looking at pictures of Madeley makes me happy! Happy Gotcha Day beautiful girl!

  • Angelique with Four Points Mom September 11, 2017 at 7:59 am

    I love your adoption posts. You and your family are a true testament to what a blessing the process can be for everyone involved. Sweet Madeley brings me joy just looking at her photos – I can only imagine the joy she brings you!

  • Angela Ellingson September 11, 2017 at 8:10 am

    This is such a sweet post!! What a precious girl! Loved everyone’s thoughts about her.

  • heidi September 11, 2017 at 8:11 am

    I can’t imagine Madeley not being part of your family. She was meant to be. I love that a living heavenly father has a plan for each of us and that he made sure Madeley got to her forever home. She’s so beautiful with a beautiful heart that radiates. Yeah for the shull 6!

  • Tracy September 11, 2017 at 8:16 am

    Love your adoption updates. Happy Gotcha Day! Madeley is precious!

  • Paula September 11, 2017 at 8:24 am

    All the happy tears! 😍😍😍

  • Susan September 11, 2017 at 8:28 am

    Speechless! Heart-warming… 💗💗💗💗 She is precious.

  • Patricia September 11, 2017 at 8:32 am

    Our granddaughter (adopted in USA at 10 months) used mostly signing and words until she was three and a half and then …. she started talking in paragraphs. She got very verbal telling us long stories about her adventures of the day. Up till then, other kids her age were far past her in language skills.

  • Melanie S September 11, 2017 at 8:34 am

    I love these posts, and my favorite part of this one was the responses from the kids and you all. “God knew we were sister”, “highlight”…. so sweet.

  • Julie September 11, 2017 at 8:47 am

    She is too precious, and what amazingly wonderful things her siblings said…how sweet is Kensington? I want to see videos of Madely talking, sounds like the CUTEST thing ever. Enjoy gotcha day!

  • Lacey Bean September 11, 2017 at 8:52 am

    Awww love this update!! Happy Gotcha Day!

  • Mary Arredondo September 11, 2017 at 8:57 am

    This is such a beautiful story! You are so inspiring Shay! Thank you for sharing.

  • Claire September 11, 2017 at 9:01 am

    What a beautiful little girl! (Inward & outward!) as all your children are. Love definitely makes a family! I love reading adoption stories & you’re right, it is definitely beauty from ashes. Your words of her rocking herself and prayers for her birth mom made me cry. I look forward to the child or children the Lord has planned for us through adoption. Happy Family Day Shulls!

  • nichole September 11, 2017 at 9:05 am

    Happy Gotcha Day, Madeley! She just radiates joy!!!

  • Nikki September 11, 2017 at 9:05 am

    This post warmed by heart! So glad that Madeley is where she belongs!!

  • Brittany Hensley September 11, 2017 at 9:06 am

    Oh the tears of joy are just flowing! Thank you for sharing your heart and your beautiful family. Happy ‘Gotcha Day’ to your beautiful daughter!

  • Amanda @ That Inspired Chick September 11, 2017 at 9:07 am

    I just love this girl!!!! Happy Gotcha Day, Miss Madeley!!!

    That Inspired Chick

  • cassie {hi sugarplum} September 11, 2017 at 9:21 am

    This post absolutely slayed me!!! I lost my breath about 4 times. I’ve loved watching these precious girls bloom and flourish under the love of your sweet family…and I’m so so happy for all of you! xo

  • Christine Munoz September 11, 2017 at 9:24 am

    Every time I read your girls’ adoption and anniversary stories I just cry and cry. They are so beautiful and your family is beautiful. Thanks for letting us follow along!

  • kim G September 11, 2017 at 9:24 am

    your post made me tear up! Have a happy day celebrating!

  • JEN CHO September 11, 2017 at 9:31 am

    Happy One Year Anniversary! I teared up readying your post. Tears of joy of course. 🙂

  • Kathy L September 11, 2017 at 9:35 am

    What a beautiful post about Madeley James and the blessings all of you have experienced through her adoption. She radiates pure joy in all the pictures you share! I can’t help but smile and shed happy tears every time I read your adoption updates on both Ashby and Madeley.

  • Melissa D. September 11, 2017 at 9:37 am

    Such a blessing you all are for one another! What a perfect exclamation point Miss Madeley is! Also, I am wondering if you recall where you got the bows from in her early photos in China (the navy and the pink?) I checked out your previously suggested One Stop Bow Shop but didn’t see them. Thanks!

  • Heather S September 11, 2017 at 9:43 am

    Happy Gotcha Day to the Shull Six!

  • Shawnna Griffin September 11, 2017 at 9:44 am

    hey girl- love the post! Madeley is so cute! God has really blessed you and your family! He is good!

  • Sarah Shaneyfelt September 11, 2017 at 10:14 am

    This post is beautiful! I think a lot of times people see the smiling pictures and think that your adoptions have gone perfectly, but I’m so thankful that you also showed how tough it is, too. But it’s so worth it! My heart breaks knowing that she still rocks herself to sleep because she had to for so long. So thankful that y’all were obedient to what God was calling you to do! Thank you for letting us into this part of your lives!

  • Rebecca Jo September 11, 2017 at 10:23 am

    Look how much she’s grown!!!!! … & I always love the first pics of confused faces to faces so FULL OF SMILES its contagious. Happy Gotcha Day!

  • Kimberly September 11, 2017 at 10:32 am

    So many tears while reading this post. Madeley is precious!

  • Sarah @ Foxy's Domestic Side September 11, 2017 at 10:34 am

    Happy Gotcha Day! She is just so stinkin’ cute, so happy that she is thriving and doing so well. Thanks for continuing to write these posts and keep us up to date.

  • Caroline Burke September 11, 2017 at 10:45 am

    This brought tears to my eyes!! I read it hoping that when I read her two yr update next year we should have brought our daughter home by then! Happy Gitcha Day sweet Madeley!

  • Jess September 11, 2017 at 10:48 am

    Shay I am in awe of your beautiful family. You inspire me to pursue adoption some day and I am forever grateful for that. Congrats on 1 year with that little ray of light – even in pictures you can tell she is pure sunshine 🙂

  • Jeri Orndorff September 11, 2017 at 10:55 am

    I have an adopted son (domestic) and this post made me cry all the happy tears. I feel the same things that you said so much. I was meant to be this boys mother. The different for me is that I am in contact with his birthmother, and am able to relieve her fears! God is good!

  • Kristin September 11, 2017 at 10:57 am

    This.IS.everything! Your story brings me to tears as I am reading it, not out of sadness, but out of the pure joy, love, and happiness that comes from the love you have for her, and all of your family! Madeley’s story makes me want to go and adopt 500 children. She is just as lucky to have you as you are to have her!

  • Ashley J September 11, 2017 at 11:07 am

    This post made me so happy beginning to end (like all of your posts do lol but this one was extra special!). Seeing her cute little smile every time you post a pic makes me smile so thank you! Thank you for sharing all of your information with her progress and all of the stories. It’s fascinating and heart-warming to see how far she’s come in such a short time. Your family is very blessed. <3

  • Natalie Clark September 11, 2017 at 11:49 am

    Happy Gotcha Day, Madeley! Ohmygoodness, I could not love reading this post more! Madeley is just the cutest little thing, and you are right, she just exudes joy! I am so glad she found y’all and y’all found her!

  • Kerri September 11, 2017 at 11:57 am

    Thank you for sharing! Madeley seems so happy as do you all! I think your right when you say Ashby and Madeley just fit with your family. I have been reading your blog since before you adopted and honestly it has been the sweetest thing to read about. Your great parents and your all so lucky to have one another! It sounds like she’s doing fantastic!

  • Kerri September 11, 2017 at 11:58 am

    PS did a shout out to you on instagram today for your Apple Hand Pie Recipe, made them yesterday and they were such a hit! They went in the lunchbox today, I am going to be mom of the year in the cafeteria today!

  • Amber September 11, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    This post made me tear up! Kensington and Smith’s thoughts about Madeley were so sweet! Happy Gotcha Day! So thankful Miss Madeley has a mama to help her and a whole family to love her!

  • SC McKay September 11, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    4 inches in a year! WOW! Happy Forever Home, Madeley!

  • Kelly Branigan September 11, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    Man, I LOVE reading these adoptions updates! Thank you so much for sharing. I can honestly say that it’s through reading these blog posts that I can feel the Lord tugging my heart strings. Your family is a blessing and a light!

  • April Parrish September 11, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    Beautiful post that just melts my heart!

  • Liz Thorson September 11, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    Madeley is just such a special, little girl! All of the pictures you share radiate her JOY! for life! It is such fun to learn more about her! I find it somewhat fascinating that she doesn’t like any fruits or sweets. It will be interesting to see if she grows into liking either. It would also be interesting to learn from a nutritionist if this may be because she was only given formula until she joined your family.
    I loved reading what each of the Shull’s had to say about Madeley! Each person’s comment was so dear. Andrew’s went straight to my heart. I know how you feel about her because you so generously share your hear with us, and through pictures, I’ve gathered how much Ashbey, Smith and Kennsington adore her, too. Andrew always looks like he loves being a daddy, but his statement regarding how he feels about Madeley….heartmelting.❤️

  • Emalie Jean Barber September 11, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    Oh my!!! I feel like just yesterday I was reading the blog and you all were off to China to get her!!! She has GROWN and is beyond beautiful!


  • Jenny September 11, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    I couldn’t love this post more! So so sweet!

  • Michelle Nordstrom September 11, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    Beautiful. Happy celebrating loving her forever and ever.

  • Debbie Dunbar September 11, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    She is so precious as is this post!

  • Erin POrt September 11, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    Tears, happy happy tears – the last part got me sweet momma. Thanks for sharing your heart. Our adoption in Christ is the greatest gift and earthly adoption is a great depiction or our adoption in Him. Whole and complete! xoxo ERIN

  • Adrienne Brady September 11, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    Thank you for sharing Shay, Madely is so precious- you have me in happy tears. I love reading your adoption posts. God Is so good.
    Love from New Zealand ❤️

  • Karen September 11, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    Beautiful story!! Thank you for sharing so much. And thanks for the encouragement to trust God. I needed that but for a totally different situation that I’m facing with lots of unknowns.

  • Deb September 11, 2017 at 5:34 pm

    It made me laugh to hear again about Madelely’s protein obsession! My son was adopted from Kyrgyzstan 10 1/2 years ago at age 4. He was all about the fruits, raw veggies and fish. Get that chicken and beef away from him! He did not like sugar either. (Sorry to say, that changed!) He was with his birth mama till 2 and then in an orphanage till 4. His self soothing at night was to suck. It sounded like he was sucking on a pacifier or nursing, but he would just suck until he went to sleep. He followed me around the house for months after adoption and would just play at my feet. He even played right outside the shower curtain every time I took a shower. It broke my heart that he had to make sure I was there and wouldnt leave him. With age and maturity and attachment things change, but that need for reassurance that you are there for them always-it doesn’t dissipate. (Except now that he is in high school, like many high school boys he does not want me hanging around. “Just drop me off, Mom!) Madeley will gain that ability to “let mama go” when she is ready… and she will know that time best!

  • Jeanie September 11, 2017 at 5:47 pm

    Truly a beautiful tribute to precious Madeley! She is so lucky to be in your family.

  • Carly September 11, 2017 at 6:34 pm

    Shay, I really got introduced to your blog the night you left to get Madeley. I can’t tell you what your story with her has done to my heart. I will be adopting when the time is right because of her story. Thank you for sharing both stories with your girls. Madeley brightens my day every time you share a story with her. I even share your stories with my mother (who is not blog educated) tell me what Madeley is up to she asks. Happy Gotcha Day Madeley! What a mighty God we serve to have you here. Enjoy Shulls!

  • Michelle O September 11, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    Happy Gotcha Day Madeley James!!! Looks like God sent you to a family who loves and needed you as much as you love and needed them! Such a beautiful story and first year with your family. I too pray that your birth mom finds peace and knows in her heart that you are loved and happy. Such a fascinating little girl who has touched the hearts of many. Take care of each other…always!

  • Jenna Campbell September 11, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    Shay, these are just my favorite posts… I love reading so much about your girls and your love for them. You have spoken so much to my heart and I pray that this is in our future on day as well. It is just so very special what you have done for those girls and I can’t thank you enough for sharing it with us.

  • Debbie September 11, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    Oh Shay, you are such a good mama! Those kids are so lucky to be loved by you! You write so beautiful and every word is so touching! You are really beautiful in every way! 💙💛💜💙💜💜

  • Lois September 11, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    Tears rolling down my face reading this. Praise God for your family and your adoption stories. These sweet girls, and your two older kiddos are so blessed. Love everything you post, from recipes to fashion, but LOVEEEEE when you post your post-adoption updates. Praying for my husbands heart, as I feel we’ve been called to fostering/adoption, and trusting in Gods timing.

  • Kacy September 11, 2017 at 7:33 pm

    Happy 1 year to Madeley! I’d definitely use the word “squishy” to describe her too. She’s just too cute. This post today made me so happy and I cried lots of tears. God bless y’all!

  • Jenny September 11, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    I am so touched by this post. What a blessing you are to each other. I am so happy you found each other. Happy Gotcha Day! God is so good.

  • Gabrielle Storey September 11, 2017 at 9:37 pm

    Oh my goodness! One year already! She is so dang sweet!! So happy for your sweet family. Happy gotcha day little Madeley!!! You are loved by people all over the world…

  • Lizzie @ This Happy Life September 11, 2017 at 9:48 pm

    This was just so sweet!!

  • Bethany September 12, 2017 at 5:43 am

    I love Kensington’s answer so much!

  • Brooke Lane September 12, 2017 at 7:21 am

    I didn’t get around to reading this until today, it is definitely one thing of the most heart warming posts that I’ve read on your blog! My youngest is almost 2, I can relate to the toddler age. Love the transparency in this post, I cried a few times. ❤️

  • Sarah September 12, 2017 at 7:47 am

    The sweetest post ever. I’m totally not crying at my desk this morning!

  • Sara September 12, 2017 at 8:01 am

    I have a 19-month old daughter and when I think about how much her dad and I and our families and friends have loved her over the last 19 months, my heart just breaks that Madeley and so many other children didn’t/don’t have that love in their lives. God bless the people who work in orphanages and give the children as much love as they can. It’s so awesome how you set out to adopt a boy from India and now you have the perfect missing puzzle piece to your family.

  • Tara September 12, 2017 at 8:36 am

    Hey Shay! it is hard to believe you have had MJ a year already! Ashby was the reason I was able to go ahead and pursue China adoption. I had thought about it for a long time but was so hesitant and she sent me to the “YES I CAN DO IT!” Madeley has been fun to watch as she blossoms as well! Both girls have been amazing to watch!!
    I have been home 24 days with my little Ava who is almost 32 months old and I can honestly say along with you, adoption is amazing. She’s mine. She was the missing piece and I am so lucky to have her as my child!!
    Thank you for sharing your stories because it’s people like you who are encouraging and open that inspire us to move the needle that last bit!!! Thank you Shull Family of Six!!

  • Amy D. September 12, 2017 at 9:49 am

    Happy One year Anniversary to Madeley & your family! This post is so very sweet and special! <3

  • Elizabeth September 12, 2017 at 11:19 am

    Happy one year home, Madely! I love that squished up smiley face. 🙂 Love reading these posts as I wait for our little boy from China. 🙂

  • Amanda @ Cupcake N Dreams September 12, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    Oh my goodness she just looks like a ball of sunshine in your family!! I hope you had a fabulous gotcha day 🙂 🙂
    Amanda @ Cupcake N Dreams

  • Emily September 12, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    Crying over here! I started following your blog right around the time Madely came home & I have loved following her story.

  • Erica September 12, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    “She’s the highlight of our family” – Amazingly precious! Wow.
    Thanks for sharing this with us!

  • Janice September 13, 2017 at 1:19 am

    What a wonderful blog. My heart was full reading about your journey with little Miss Madeley. She looks so happy and it’s all because of the love of your family and friends. Makes me believe in the power of adoption.

  • Marsha J Baker September 21, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    WOW! What a beautiful family God has put together right there under your roof! I was so blessed to read your sweet story. That precious little Madeley would steal anyone’s heart. “Thank you Mama”…reading that really choked me up. How very precious! She definitely knows she is loved. And you know her OH SO WELL. She’s very blessed to be part of your precious family. So glad I happened to see this today. My daughter gave a baby up for adoption when she was 18 – 2 days after she graduated from high school. His birth mama has always made sure they’ve kept in touch. My daughter just became a grandma and got to fly across the country to spend time with her 29 year old son, his beautiful wife, and precious little boy. God sure is Amazing! May you be blessed beyond measure as you love these precious children and teach them in the admonition of the Lord.

  • Detroit Duchess September 24, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    This is so beautiful to read! I am in awe in the change in both Madeley and Ashby from the day you got throughout that first year. I kept thinking how horrible it must be for all the children that are still there waiting for their mom to come. It makes me so sad but happy that you adopted them. Sharing your stories like this is so amazing! I never would have known this much about how wonderful adoption is if you hadn’t. God bless your sweet family.