Adoption Month

Erika and I decided to do something a little different today.  Since last Thursday was World Adoption Day and this past Sunday was Orphan Sunday, we thought we’d dedicate our posts today to adoption.  I know we both talk about adoption a lot…but friends, it’s on our hearts.  We want to encourage and support any of you who are considering opening your home to a kiddo that doesn’t have one.  Erika and I didn’t want to be repetitious today, so she’s sharing some sermon links, some quotes and other info about adoption while I’m going to answer some frequently asked questions.  This way, you can get a little bit of adoption love in two different places today.

This is one of my very favorite pictures.  Brooke took this pic on July 4th this year.  The coolest part?  One year before that, all three of these sweet little girls were in orphanages.  All of them.  And now, they’re all with forever families.  Isn’t that beautiful?

Okay, before I post some of my frequently asked questions, a disclaimer or two…first, of course this is all just my opinion based on my two adoption experiences.  I’m not speaking for everyone, just myself.  I have so many friends who have adopted from all over the world (domestically, Russia, Korea, Philippines, Bolivia, Uganda and Ethiopia just to name a few), and their experiences have been similar to mine and different too.  Every adoption is unique.  Even though ours were similar, they were also different.  I don’t think you can replicate any adoption.  They’re all one of a kind experiences.  The purpose of days like World Adoption Day and Orphan Sunday is to spread awareness, so I hope that’s what we’re accomplishing today.  I never in a million years thought I’d be a mom to kids I didn’t give birth to.  I never once imagined that…but it has been so cool to see how God has opened our eyes, hearts and homes to these girls.  We have been blessed more than them.  It has been the most amazing thing we’ve ever done.

Now…on to your questions.  I get your sweet emails daily about adoption and always want to point you in the right direction and help you as much as possible.  I ran these questions by Erika and she said she too receives similar ones…so that tells me many of you have the same questions.  Here are my most frequently asked questions and the answers…

1: Why did you pick China?

Honestly, our kids were there.  We were not partial to any particular place, but both times, we felt God tell us that our kids were in China, so we went.  Adoption is beautiful no matter where it originates…ours just happened to be in China.

2: How long did your adoption take?

Both times our adoptions took 18 months from start to finish.  We were told when we first started out that it could take anywhere from 12 to 24 months and it took us almost exactly 18 both times from the day we submitted our agency applications to the day we met our girls (July 2013 to January 2015 and then again March 2015 to September 2016).

3: Do I have to get a kid with special needs?

Well, this depends on where you’re adopting from.  For us, we went to China to get our kids and yes, you’re expected to adopt a kid with a special need.  The severity of the need varies, but you are applying to adopt a child that has some sort of physical/emotional/behavioral/developmental problem or delay.

4: Do I get to pick the special need?

You do get to have a say in this.  When you’re filling out all of your paperwork for Chinese adoptions, you will answer questions about certain special needs and whether or not you would be interested in a child with that need.  In my opinion, you should be open to a wide variety of needs, so that you can see more files.  Some people might be hesitant to check certain boxes, but once you see a child with that need and read her history/talk to a medical professional, you might decide it’s something you can manage.  In my opinion, it’s not going to hurt you to be more open, but it might hurt you to be more closed off.  I wanted to have the opportunity to look at more files.

5: What if I don’t think I can handle caring for a kid with the special need they give me in a file?

Your agency is giving you files of kids they think have a potential to be in your family…that does not mean you have to accept that file.  There are many reasons one might pass on a file (the special need isn’t something you’re able to care for/the child is too old/too young/you don’t feel you are close enough to adequate medical care for that particular need/etc).  I love what my social worker told me once, she said people feel bad about passing on files, but they shouldn’t…it’s not their kid, it’s someone else’s.  I just love that.

6: How long did you know you were  getting your child before you actually got to go over there and get her?

We got our referral (meaning the kiddo was matched with us) for Ashby in July and then actually got her on January 4.  For Madeley, we got the referral at the very end of April and met her on September 11.  I laid out our timelines for both adoptions in THIS post.  This amount of time varies.  You are waiting for certain documents to be processed and issued on China’s side and honestly, that takes a while.  For Ashby, we had to wait through the holidays.  The Chinese government stopped issuing travel approvals and consulate appointments mid-December that year, so we got the very first one issued in Xi’an province for 2015, so government schedules delayed her process a bit.

7: How long were you in China?  Did you have to go more than once?

For Chinese adoptions, you only make the trip once (for so many international adoptions, you are required to go twice).  For Ashby’s adoption, we were in China for three weeks and for Madeley’s a little over two.  You receive your kiddo right off the bat, so you’re with your child the whole time you’re there (which is such a blessing!!).

8: Why did you take your kids? Would you do it again?

We made the decision to take our kiddos with us both times.  I get this question A LOT!  I completely understand why people wouldn’t take their other kids.  For one, it’s expensive.  Second, it’s just complicated to transport that many people everywhere.  Also, not only are you and your spouse dealing with jet lag/cultural differences/etc, your kids are too.  I TOTALLY understand why people don’t take their other kids.  All of that being said, for Andrew and me, it was the BEST decision we made during the adoption process.  Our girls got to bond with us as a family unit right off the bat.  I believe that in both instances (but especially with Ashby), my girls opened up faster and trusted us easier because they saw us caring for other kids.  I think bringing our kids bonded us in a way we could never have done at home.  If you can, I strongly suggest you do bring your other kids.  It was also a life changing experience for my big kids.  They know what it’s like inside an orphanage now.  They now exactly where their sisters came from/what the culture was like/what the people were like…they have such a deep understanding and that is invaluable.  So, yes, I’m so happy we brought them and I would totally bring them again.

9: How much do these adoptions cost?

I get this one a lot too.  Each adoption is different…but I’ve asked my friends who have adopted from other countries and everyone says roughly the same range…it’s anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000ish.  This amount covers everything from legal fees to documents that are being processed, orphanage donations and your travel expenses…everything.  You do not pay everything up front, but over a period of time as you make your way through the process.  I absolutely hate that it’s so expensive because I know it discourages so many from the process.  Domestic adoptions through the foster care system cost very little (from what I hear, they’re basically free), but international adoptions are expensive.  My prayer is that if you really feel called to adopt internationally that the Lord can work it our financially for you. He is way bigger than our bank accounts, and I’ve heard story after story of people who didn’t have the money, but somehow, God provided.  That is my prayer this morning for so many of you.

10: Which adoption agencies did you use?

For a variety of reasons, I don’t share which agencies we used.  We used two different ones and had two different experiences.  You can read more about that HERE.  Let me be really honest here…if we were to adopt again, I don’t think we’d use either agency.  In my opinion, the agency really doesn’t matter all that much.  One minute, one agency has a lot of kids and no one waiting and then the next, it has no kids and 15 people on a waiting list.  It is constantly changing.  Here are the questions I would ask when interviewing an agency:

  1. How many children did you place last year in China?  What was the wait time for each of those families?
  2. How many people are currently waiting on kids through your agency?  Are they looking for boys/girls/what age? (See if they’re all waiting on what you’re looking for.)
  3. How many people do you have actively working on their dossiers right now?
  4. What do you say is your average wait time from start to finish?
  5. How much of the paperwork do you file for us? (Get one that files everything!!!  Or if not everything, close to everything!  That’s what you’re paying for, right?  It surprises me how so many do not file everything.)

11: How old are these kids that are up for adoption?

Their ages vary.  You can get some as young as one and you can also adopt a teen too.  There are millions of kids of a variety of ages that need a forever home.

12: What did your kids think about you adopting?

My kids have always been on board with us adopting.  I’m sure it’s due to the fact that we’ve been talking about it since they were 1 and 2…but there has never once been a moment of hesitation in either of them.

13: What was it like when you wanted to adopt but Andrew didn’t?

That was very hard.  God placed adoption on my heart long before he did Andrew’s, and that’s something as a couple, we had to work through.  Andrew blogged about his change of heart on adoption HERE several years ago.

14: What do you do to make sure your girls grow up knowing their culture and heritage?

This is always a balance for us.  I have received so many comments shaming me for not encouraging my girls to speak Mandarin.  Here is the thing…first of all, neither of my girls spoke Mandarin when we received them.  As sad as it is to think about, neither were verbal.  I’m sure we would have encouraged them to keep their native language if they had it when we received them, but they didn’t.  The second thing is, my number one goal for these girls is to feel part of a family.  I want them to feel like they belong.  I want them to feel like they’re just one of the Shulls.  I want them to feel like they’re a normal kid in our family just like the two older ones.  I have spent the last almost three years pouring myself into them so that they feel like they belong here with us.   That has been my number one priority.  All of that being said, we talk about them being Chinese, we point out and honor other strong Chinese women in this world, we encourage them to talk about their heritage and culture at every organic opportunity.  We do not shy away from the topic at home…but right now, they’re just not that interested.  They’re interested in Barbies and Peppa Pig.  They’re interested in what we’re baking that day.  They want to know when Kensington is going to be home from school and if she’ll let them borrow her princess costumes.  They’re interested in that.  So, even though we try and talk about it in spurts around the house…we always want it to be a natural conversation and nothing forced because they’re just little girls trying to be little girls.

15: What if I work full time?

So many people want to know if they can adopt even though they work full time.  The answer is YES.  I strongly encourage you to find a social worker who has worked with other working families post-adoption to give you ideas and tips on how to bond/create trust and security when you’re not home all day long.  Those first few weeks and months are crucial, but with the right support and tools, you can do it!  Do not let working full time make you think you can’t bring home a kiddo.  You just need the right support system to help you when you head back to work.

16: Were your girls health histories correct once you received them?

Nope.  We received medical documents from China on both girls before we selected them as our referrals and both were incorrect.  As much as you think you know about your kiddo before you head over to get them, you just don’t know until you get them.  They had Ashby’s health listed as less critical than it was and Madeley’s was just altogether wrong.  No matter how many documents and test results they send, you just don’t know until you’re there.

17: What are the rules about adopting from China?

Uggg.  There are so many.  You can read the updated rules for adopting from China HERE.

18: Are these kids in actual orphanages or foster homes?

Both!  My girls were in actual orphanages, but I have some friends whose kids were in foster homes.  The last six months, Ashby lived in a foster home setting inside her orphanage.  Ashby’s orphanage was really big (over 850 kids).

19: How do you actually get matched with your child?

After your dossier is completed and China accepts it, your agency will start trying to find you a match.  You can also look online at certain websites and find a child that way and then kind of work backwards (I have friends who have done that too).  For us, we used an agency and allowed them to match us.

20: How have your girls been coping since they’ve been home?

My girls have done outstanding.  I praise the Lord every single day for how well and how quickly they have both adjusted.  Unfortunately, I think we all tend to hear the worst case scenario stories about adoptions (the really sad ones), but I know so many people who have had positive experiences.  I hope that my family’s story is an encouragement to you.  I do not think we are the exception…I think more adoptions than not are just wonderful little experiences (we just tend to hear more about the really hard ones).  We need more people with positive experiences advocating for adoption.

21: Were you scared about attachment issues?

TO DEATH.  Attachment issues are real and so many people struggle with them.  I prayed and prayed over this.  I was so scared.  I think it is totally normal for that to be one of your fears.

22: What book about adoption do you like the most?

My VERY favorite book on adoption is Forever Mom by Mary Ostyn.

23: What’s the one thing you would do differently?

I wish I would have documented the process more in a journal.  I wish I would have done that.  It would have been really special for my girls and me to look at later in life.

24: What’s the best thing you did?

Besides pray heavily over both adoptions?  Take my kids with me.

25: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received about adoption?

If it’s on your heart, it’s there for a reason and not going to go away.  God doesn’t put adoption on everyone’s heart…but if it’s on yours, it’s there for a reason.  Don’t think time will make it go away.  It won’t.

26: How will you talk to your girls about adoption moving forward?

We have always talked openly about adoption.  Again, it’s that balance of talking about it organically and not making them feel singled out and different than the big two kids.  They know they’re adopted.  We pray for their birth mamas, we talk about them when the time feels right.  We want them to love and respect these women who loved them so much that they carried their pregnancies to completion and then left them places where they would be found.  We tell them their mamas were brave.  We also tell them that we hope one day in heaven, we’ll all get to meet.

27: Are you going to adopt again?

I don’t know?  Maybe?  I don’t know what feeling you’re supposed to have when you’re done having kids.  I feel very much at peace right now…but that doesn’t mean we’re done.  We’re waiting.  Waiting for God to show us next steps.  Maybe we stay a family of six forever, maybe we don’t?

These two girls of mine sure are cute…but we didn’t want them to be the only faces of orphans you see.  THERE ARE MILLIONS OF KIDS JUST LIKE THEM IN THIS WORLD WAITING ON FOREVER HOMES RIGHT NOW.  We really wanted you to see more than just our kids.  So, Erika and I asked our precious friend, Meredith,  who is the orphanage director at Morning Star Foundation in China to share a few pics of her kiddos.  You can follow Meredith and these kids on Instagram HERE and  learn more about Morning Star HERE. She is the most selfless human being I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.  I cannot even begin to explain to you the things she’s doing over there at that orphanage.  The hard, sacrificial, devastating, but yet beautiful and hopeful things.  Here are a few of “her kids”…




Aren’t they precious?  They are only a few of the over 150 million kids in this world waiting on forever homes.  Is one of them waiting on you?

Erika and I would love to pray for those of you in the process of adoption or who are really considering it. Please feel free to comment today, so that we (and others) can pray for you.

Adoption is beautiful.  Adoption makes families.  Adoption is love.  I’m hoping that if it’s on your heart, you take the step of faith. xo

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

Madeley’s Gotcha Day {1st Anniversary}

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: HER


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  • Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog November 16, 2017 at 4:41 am

    Your kids are so lucky to grow up with you. You’re a true example!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • Bernadine November 16, 2017 at 5:01 am

    Beautiful post, Shay. Thank you for being an advocate for those waiting for their forever homes.

  • Emily November 16, 2017 at 5:06 am

    I love this. I don’t have a family yet. I’m not married yet. But I want to adopt one day. I’m a teacher in a high poverty area of New York City and I teach ESL. I see kids like your girls everyday and I just want to open my heart and give them every opportunity possible. I cannot wait to adopt one day.

  • Tiffany N. November 16, 2017 at 5:16 am

    I really liked your answers to these questions. Specifically 14. What a shame that people are so negative about their culture. They are so little and exactly what you said, it’s about them being little girls and feeling loved.

  • Maggie November 16, 2017 at 5:25 am

    Shay and Erika, thank you so much for sharing your experiences! I recently graduated college, and while teaching third grade, it’s constantly on my heart thinking about adopting one day. I know that I want to adopt one day, but the logistics can be really tough to consider. Reading about your experiences with your girls has been such a privilege and has instilled so much confidence about adopting in the future! Thank you!

  • Erika Slaughter November 16, 2017 at 5:36 am

    YES!! I couldn’t agree more with this post! I’d 100% say that taking our kids was the best decision too. Not only did it help Britt, it helped Tab and me too. Thank you for teaming up today, friend! XO

  • Sheaffer Sims November 16, 2017 at 5:38 am

    I hope your words speak straight to somebody’s heart today and that they start to listen to what might just be a little tug at their heart right now. Watching both of your families walk this road has been an absolute joy.

  • Christine November 16, 2017 at 5:54 am

    Thank you for writing this! We brought our daughter (who was 3 at the time!) with us to China when we adopted, and it was the BEST decision! Our girls bonded SO fast, and they are best friends. 🙂

    God bless you and your beautiful family!

  • Kelly Moss November 16, 2017 at 5:56 am

    God placed adoption on our hearts when our boys were young. You are right, if adoption is on your heart there is a reason and it is not going away. Our boys are now teenagers and adoption is still on our hearts. We feel the timing is right and are in the process of adopting from China now. Thank you for all your encouragement!

  • Christine November 16, 2017 at 5:59 am

    P.S. If you or your readers want to hear more about China adoption, I highly recommend this blog:
    All the posts are written by parents who have adopted from China (of various special needs) and by adoption professionals. I’ve learned so much from it, and I can usually relate to everyone’s experiences!

  • Janette @ The 2 Seasons November 16, 2017 at 6:02 am

    My daughter/blog partner and her husband adopted a darling little girl from Thailand. She has been such a treasure. She came home at 19 months, and she just turned three. We documented the process and her first year on our blog and introduced her to our readers a few months ago. Her adjustment was tough at first, but she has settled in. They are now doing the paperwork for number two.

  • Lindsey Sadler November 16, 2017 at 6:05 am

    I would love for you to pray for my family! I have two little boys and feel so lead to adopt but my husband is comfortable and not quite there. Sometimes I feel like just want to start the process right now because I know we have a precious child out there waiting for us. I’m so encouraged by your blog and by your adoption stories. Also a praise…my sister will finalize their adoption for a little girl they fostered tomorrow. She is such a blessing to our family.

  • Narci November 16, 2017 at 6:05 am

    Adoption IS beautiful. I loved this post friend. Thank you so much for sharing your journey and story with us! Xoxo

  • Renae Gulledge November 16, 2017 at 6:30 am

    Ah, this post was amazing! Thank you for sharing. My husband and I are currently foster parents to a little guy who we could possibly adopt in the near future. It is scary and exciting all at the same time, but like you said when God puts it on your heart you can’t say no. Thank you for making a difference!!!

  • Julie November 16, 2017 at 6:33 am

    We are fostering to adopt and have a precious 3 year old Michael that we would love to have be apart of our family forever❤️

  • Bailey November 16, 2017 at 6:36 am

    I love how open you are about your family and experiences. I wish you would do an “adoption” post every month! I’m always hungry for more. 🙂

  • Maria November 16, 2017 at 6:39 am

    Adoption has been on my heart for quite some time. As a single woman, I find my most common prayer right now to be for clarity that I can do this on my own.

    • Mix and Match Mama November 16, 2017 at 6:41 am

      I’m praying for you right now, Maria!!

    • Kristy November 16, 2017 at 7:00 am

      Maria – I adopted my son from Russia when he was two as a single mom. My son is now 12 and I truly can’t imagine my life without him. I didn’t know any different so being single really wasn’t that big of a deal. Keep praying about it! Best of luck to you,

  • Kelly November 16, 2017 at 6:41 am

    Your response to Question 14 was spot-on, sista! I don’t understand why you would be shamed for treating your children like the American citizens they are. I know Plenty of people who aren’t teaching their biological kiddos the language of their ancestry ! They are Americans now 😀

  • Danielle November 16, 2017 at 6:41 am

    I am 26 and getting married this summer! I was diagnosed with an infertility condition at 16, and want to try and have at least one child biologically. Then I want to adopt from the highest need country at the time we are able to. I teach in West Philadelphia so obviously don’t make a ton of money, but would love to stay home with my kids someday. I sent this post to my fiance who right now wants to adopt because I want to. Praying he wants to for himself too. Please pray it all comes together for us someday!

  • Amanda November 16, 2017 at 6:49 am

    Adoption can seem so scary but I love how honestly you answered everything. I’m just pregnant with my first child so I don’t know where the future will take me but I will keep my heart open!

  • Brittany Hensley November 16, 2017 at 6:59 am

    Thanks for sharing! I couldn’t love this post more!! 💜💜

  • Aoife November 16, 2017 at 7:04 am

    What a beautiful post! Adoption has been on my heart since I was 10 years old. My husband and I are in are early 20s so we still have to wait a few years before we adopt from China. I have 3 younger siblings who were adopted. My brother from Uganda and my sisters from India. It’s a beautiful experience. Thank you for sharing.

  • amie November 16, 2017 at 7:10 am

    You’re an amazing person! I’ve been following for years after I searched google for adoption blogs. After 6 years of infertility, my husband & I turned to adoption through the foster care system. Three months ago, our 5 year old boy came home to us & we’ve been one happy family since then. Adoption really is a blessing!

    Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  • Belinda November 16, 2017 at 7:18 am

    Shay, I can honestly say that God put adoption on my heart years ago when y’all were waiting to bring Ashby home. My husband was closed off to the idea until recently, and I have just trusted that if this is God’s plan for our family, He will change my husband’s heart. I have seen those changes over the last few months, and I believe in faith that one day we’ll be standing in an orphanage somewhere, receiving a child of our own. Adoption is such a beautiful picture of God’s love and the way He adopted US and paid a price for us before we even knew Him. I thank Him today for your family’s story!

  • Whitney Pegram November 16, 2017 at 7:20 am

    I have just loved so much following along on your journey!! Such a sweet family!

  • Lina November 16, 2017 at 7:30 am

    Oh Shay! You have been such encouragement over the past few years for me. We are in the homestretch of our adoption process. My friend just did a LuLaRoe fundraiser for me last night and we hit goal so I’m over the moon right now. And to wake up to reading this post dedicated to adoption is the icing on the cake! You are so right about how it’s something that grabs hold of your heart and won’t let go. There were definitely moments when I thought we would give up because the process is so arduous. But I almost fear not adopting over adopting- if that makes sense. Seeing your story has given me so much encouragement at the right times. Thank you Shay for being so open and documenting so well! It’s been really helpful.

  • Karen November 16, 2017 at 7:31 am

    I love reading about both of your adoption experiences. We did feel that tug as well and with two high school boys (one a senior), we adopted a girl from the foster care system. We live in Houston. She had just turned six. As you commented in your post, it is basically free and you receive a monthly stipend until they turn 18 (if your child meets certain criteria which they almost all do). Additionally, in Texas, if she attends a state school her college and even any graduate school is free. I will say children from foster care ALL have varying degrees of emotional baggage and it’s REALLY hard. But, it’s the best (and hardest) thing we’ve ever done.

  • B.Y.S. November 16, 2017 at 7:33 am

    My Gotcha Day was 34 years ago on October 28th!


  • Jaclyn November 16, 2017 at 7:33 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience! Adoption has been on my heart for years, for far longer than I’ve even known my husband. Similar to you and Andrew, my husband is not yet ready to adopt. I pray that someday he will be ❤️

  • Amanda November 16, 2017 at 7:41 am

    Hi Shay,
    Our dossier is in Haiti please pray for us…for a perfect match!! I desperately want to bring my children with me and it breaks my heart that financially it reallly isn’t an option with 5 bio kids and 2 trips to Haiti. What would you think of bringing the oldest one to one trip and the second oldest to another…..or should we leave it at all or nothing?? There are 400 thousand orphans in Haiti right now please pray for them with me today to!!!

  • Lauren November 16, 2017 at 7:50 am

    We are in the process of adopting a little girl from China! Adoption was on our hearts for a while before we officially began the process so I have really enjoyed reading about your journey!

  • Sarah Tennant November 16, 2017 at 7:53 am

    Thank you Shay. A couple years ago you opened my eyes to adoption and my husband and I have been talking about it for a while now. This past year we have been attending meetings and getting really serious and excited about it! My husband is in the military and he deploys a lot and we move often so when he gets out in a few years we plan on moving closer to home and we are doing everything we can now to set our family up financially to be able to adopt then. I can’t wait to update you in a few years from now about our newest addition!

  • Casey November 16, 2017 at 8:01 am

    Thank you for this post, your words are such an encouragement. Adoption is on my heart but not yet on my husbands, I love Andrews suggestion to pray over it for a year. I can’t wait to see how God moves us forward. One concern my husband has is if he can love an adopted child as much as a biological, do you have any good suggestions? Thanks!!

  • Melissa November 16, 2017 at 8:01 am

    Thank you, as always, for sharing your heart. My husband and I are in the beginning process of domestic adoption and I have loved reading your journey from the beginning. Your tips are great and you encourage me (and many others) every time you write on the topic.

  • Alisha Sebastian November 16, 2017 at 8:02 am

    Gosh, it really doesn’t matter how many blogs I read or stories I come across on adoption… I cry every time! The moment I knew I’d marry my husband was 2 months into dating and I mentioned adopting and his instinctive response was, “Oh, we will FOR SURE adopt one day.” …We hadn’t even said, “I love you,” yet! I’ve wanted to adopt since before I could remember and following your stories (and others!) just makes my heart so happy. Thank you for always being open and honest about it. I appreciate it and you and I’m always keeping your advice where I know I can access it when we do adopt.


    The Sebastians

  • Audrey Bolton November 16, 2017 at 8:05 am

    My husband and I are in the middle of our adoption domestic adoption process. We just finished the home study and are waiting to start the matching/referral process. I LOVED reading this post because it just stirred up so many emotions from within and I love that you are using your platform to spread awareness to the beauty of adoption. My husband, like Andrew, took a little while to catch on to God’s plan for us to adopt but I think that was all apart of God’s plan. I cannot wait to be sitting where you’re out when we finally have our baby home with us. God bless!! xoxo

  • Nicole Miller November 16, 2017 at 8:14 am

    Thank you so much for sharing! I have read your blog for a few years and truly enjoy it! We have similar stories in the fact that God laid adoption on my heart before my husbands. Once God laid it on my hubby’s heart it was the most beautiful thing! We are still waiting to be matched, but so so excited to see what God has in store for us! Thank you for sharing such a beautiful post!

  • Angela Ellingson November 16, 2017 at 8:22 am

    Love this post! It has been a joy to read about both of your adoptions over the years. I’ve referred many people wanting to adopt to your blog. I’m not sure if we’re called to adopt ourselves. We’re open to it and think it’s so beautiful. Part of me has always thought that maybe we’ll cross paths with a kiddo or two siblings that need a home someday.

  • April Parrish November 16, 2017 at 8:26 am

    Beautiful post! Praying for all these sweet children that need forever homes!

  • Carey Stanteen November 16, 2017 at 8:34 am

    Love your adoption pots! We have adopted 4 kids domestically and have open adoptions with each one. Would live to share that side with your readers if you are ever interested!

  • Sosina November 16, 2017 at 8:34 am

    I’m currently in the process of a domestic adoption. The wait is so hard! Would love that if you would pray for me. My prayer has always been to bring home my child before Christmas. & as the Christmas season is upon us, it’s been hard on my heart. Please pray for me & connect with me too! My instagram is s0sina . And today I’m being guest featured on a blog called

  • Leah Reinemund November 16, 2017 at 8:35 am

    I have chills going up my arms and spine as I read this. Adoption has always been something that has been on my heart. While I was in college at TCU, I was a nanny for a family who adopted a little boy. That little boy is the sweetest kid on earth and the perfect addition to their family.
    Fast forward to this year, at the age of 25 I found out I had a tumor growing on my ovary and was going to have to have one ovary removed. Only having one ovary will make getting pregnant very difficult…not impossible just difficult. As soon as I heard this news, it was almost as if God was calling me to wake up and to learn more about adoption. My sweet husband just isn’t quite there yet…kinda like Andrew but we are trusting in the Lord and know that he will lead us down the right path.

  • Jen November 16, 2017 at 8:53 am

    We started the adoption process with the Philippines program in August. It’s a little diff. than China. They have a regular track program for kids that are 0-6 and mostly healthy but you wait a long time (average 2-3 years from Dossier submittal). There is a special home finding list that you can look at children on with kids over 6, sibling groups and special needs children on it. That process is much shorter and similar to your China timeline. Philippines only requires 1 trip as well (10 days or less). Just wanted to pass some info. along. I’ve loved reading about your journey with getting the girls.

  • Meaghan Weldon November 16, 2017 at 8:54 am

    These shirts made me think of your family! So thankful for your heart and the ability you have to share your story! ❤️

  • Kendra N November 16, 2017 at 8:56 am

    Adoption has been on my heart for YEARS. I just can’t convince my husband to take that step! We have two kiddos and he thinks we can’t handle more (we are so involved with sports and our community) when I know for a fact that we can! Please pray for him and for our family!

  • Alycia November 16, 2017 at 9:07 am

    Thank you for sharing your story! My husband and I planned on only adopting when we first got married but life happened and between finishing our degrees, having biological children, and working full time we put that plan on the back burner. Your story was among several that I came across last year that encouraged me to look into adopting again. Now, we are in the process of adopting not one but two children – which was entirely unexpected! We found our son on a waiting child list for Korea last December and will be traveling to Seoul for custody in just a couple of weeks. About half way through this adoption we inquired about another child on the waiting list – mostly trying to get information to help find her a family since she had been waiting for so long. Our agency said that no other families had inquired about her because her disability was so intimidating. Well, after months of long talks, research, and a lot of prayer we decided to see about adopting her as well – and our agency and the social agency in Korea both agreed! We will be brining our daughter home sometime next year and we couldn’t be more thrilled. We haven’t been able to share that news with anyone outside of our immediate family yet (it’s not official until our home study is updated after our son gets home and Korea is very careful not to encourage multiple adoptions at the same time so this is a “unique” case). Long story sort-of short, this process has been full of twists and turns but, at the same time has been absolutely, amazingly life changing. Thank you for sharing your story and being transparent about the process – it has been an encouragement to myself and many others as well!

    • Alicia November 16, 2017 at 10:20 pm

      We are starting the process for a Korean adoption. I hear a lot about International adoption through china but looking for others going through Korea. I would love to chat more with you if you would be open to it.

  • Sara November 16, 2017 at 9:10 am

    My absolute favorite post of your’s to date, and I’ve been following you for years. Wish I could hug your neck today! Thankful for your willingness to be so raw and open. Humbled by your willingness to embrace the gospel in this way. Love and prayers!

  • jess November 16, 2017 at 9:17 am

    I know this is a bit of a personal question, but were you ever considering having more biological children before you were called to adopt? We have an interest in adopting, but also would like another bio child so I’m praying that God leads us to the right decision.

    • Mix and Match Mama November 16, 2017 at 12:26 pm

      We were not. After we had Smith, we knew we weren’t supposed to have more bio kids. It just felt so clear that Smith was the last bio kid.

  • Julie Higginbotham November 16, 2017 at 9:17 am

    You may not have kept a journal but what a blessing they will have to look back at all of these blog posts you have written about them! You have basically kept an electronic journal of your journey with them.

  • Rhonda November 16, 2017 at 9:17 am

    Adoption is a beautiful way to grow a family. We are a family of two bios and one that came through adoption. We didn’t take our boys with us when we picked up our daughter from China, they were 6 and 4 at the time and hadn’t taken a flight longer than three hours. I was worried about sickness, boredom, and their reaction to watching her grieve. She came from a foster family and grieved HARD. She cried and rejected us for days. My husband had to stand in the hallway or hide in the bathroom for me to get her down to sleep. I think that would have broken the boys’ hearts had they been there. But once we got home she fell in love with them instantly. So maybe they would have helped her? Who knows? All I know is those boys with their big hearts are the only thing that got me through jet lag and her regression when we got home. 🙂 I’m glad you mention your fears of attachment. Attachment is so important and it’s important to do the extra work to build that trust. We all went back to China in 2016 for a Heritage Trip and it was a trip of a lifetime. Great post Shay!

  • Brenden November 16, 2017 at 9:25 am

    Wow I really feel like this post was meant for me today. We have 3 children already (7,5 and only 6 months!) and all of the sudden, God has put adoption on my heart heavily. My husband wasn’t even sure about us having a 4th child in general, ha! so when I brought it up he was like “this is random!! Umm we should pray about it.” He had never been that open to adoption whenever I had brought it up casually in the past. Well within 2 days he had done a complete 180 and feels just as strong as I do. Which if you knew him you would know how crazy that is! All of the sudden now it’s adoption week and orphan Sunday and I’m seeing post after post about adoption. This morning your post was the first one on my newsfeed. We went to local info meeting about adoption/foster care on Monday night. Our local church (Christ Chapel in Fort Worth) had a luncheon on Sunday about orphan care. I texted my husband a screen shot of your post this morning and his response was this: “That’s really cool, I feel like this is where we’re headed… I prayed in my truck while driving yesterday that the lord would start guiding our path of this is what he wanted for our family and this is what he is calling us to do…. looks like our tour guide is already on duty…lol” This comment ended up being way longer than intended, haha but I just wanted to thank you for sharing your heart and experience. Maybe our baby is out there waiting for us. 💗

  • Carrie November 16, 2017 at 9:26 am

    Love your word of encouragement! We have two bio boys and have been in the process to adopt from China for about 18 months now. We have had to turn down 3 files and know that it was because their family needed to find them. You said it beautifully. Lots of wonderful kiddos in the world that need forever families!

  • Kathy L November 16, 2017 at 9:27 am

    Adoption is beautiful. It blessed us with our sweet daughter, Kara Anne, through a newborn, domestic adoption. Your posts on adoption are some of my very favorite. Thank you for sharing all that you do about your experiences while adopting Ashby and Madeley–they are adorable.

  • Megan November 16, 2017 at 9:27 am

    Adding our two girls to our family thru adoption from China is the absolute best decision we have ever made as a family. Has it been easy? Nope. But so very worth it. Both of our girls and their experience could not be more different (other than both adoptions were very quick-9 and 10 months). I’m happy to answer any questions of those that feel adoption has been placed on their hearts.

  • Laci November 16, 2017 at 9:30 am

    This post is so helpful to those of us who have never adopted! Watching you bring these beautiful girls into your home through adoption has blessed my heart so very much. Thank you for allowing us into this process with you and helping us understand. Much love!

  • Alexis deZayas November 16, 2017 at 9:30 am

    Thank you SO much for sharing this Shay! You are truly changing lives!

  • jaimie November 16, 2017 at 9:36 am

    You are SUCH an inspiration and beautiful role model to so many! What a blessing, thank you for sharing! xoxo

  • Kayla B November 16, 2017 at 9:56 am

    Your family is so beautiful, and you are just a wonderful advocate for adoption– discussing both the joys and the hardships. My husband and I are saving, praying, and planning to adopt from China one day. I don’t know what it will look like, but I do know God has given us a heart for it.

  • Amy November 16, 2017 at 10:40 am

    Love this- thanks for sharing and encouraging! I’m a foster/adoptive mom and just want to add one thing to one of your answers that hopefully helps. Re: adopting when you work full time outside the home- it’s also worth noting that FMLA covers adoption, so assuming youd be eligible for FMLA through your work if you delivered a biological child, you’d be eligible for the same benefits when you adopt. This gets trickier with foster care but can even be leveraged then. Also a lot of companies help cover adoption expenses- I work for the government so mine didn’t, but my brother works for a large corporation in Dallas and they covered several thousand dollars of he and his wife’s adoption. So moral of the story- there are many types of assistance available if you work full time, so be sure to seek those out and take advantage of them!

  • Amber November 16, 2017 at 10:57 am

    Beautiful post! We adopted our son domestically and are currently waiting to be matched with an expectant mother. Please pray for us during our wait. Blessings to you and your family!

  • Gabrielle Storey November 16, 2017 at 10:57 am

    Hi Shay, I am in tears over this. You and Erika are so lucky that God provided you the most beautiful children. You once recommended a movie about adoption and I was curious what the name of it was?

    Thank you!

  • Liz Thorson November 16, 2017 at 11:13 am

    Best decision we made 35 years ago to create our family! Our sons are now 33 and 28!❤️❤️

    • Liz Thorson November 17, 2017 at 11:31 am

      I should have added…”through adoption,” because that is how we became parents!

  • Jenna November 16, 2017 at 11:26 am

    Shay I am in tears seeing those pictures at the end… we are about to have our third son in March, but my husband and I talk all the time about wanting to adopt at some point in a few years. I cannot tell you what an encouragement you have been to me, I love reading your posts about your girls so much and this one was so informative and special. 🙂 Thank you for being so open with all of us and genuine about your experiences.

  • Amy T November 16, 2017 at 11:27 am

    Thank you for sharing! This post made me cry, and I pray for all the families adopting or who will someday. Your stories with both your darling little girls is so precious and inspiring!

  • Caitlin Locke November 16, 2017 at 11:33 am

    Shay, I love this post. It is so hard when you feel the urge of adoption and your husband does not.. . God doesn’t put this on everyone’s heart, but I know that in time, Jesus will show him how beautiful adoption will be. Prayers!

  • Kristin November 16, 2017 at 11:45 am

    Love love love this so much!!! Adoption is amazing and I’m just so very thankful for it! We adopted domestically last December and have the most precious 10 month old now named Charlotte Helen. I found out I was pregnant 4 days later (after 4 years of infertility and losing our son, Harrison, at 22 weeks) so my girls are 7.5 months apart! It’s so fun! Thank you for always talking about adoption!

  • Lindsay @ Lindsay's Sweet World November 16, 2017 at 11:45 am

    You never cease to amaze and inspire me, Shay. And you are doing a great job of raising them to fit right in with the rest of your family. It’s funny, because I never even think of Ashby and Madeley as being your adopted children… I just think of them as being your children. They really do just belong. It’s like they were meant to be there all along.

  • Rachel November 16, 2017 at 11:45 am

    We submitted our application to become licensed foster-to-adopt or matched adoption through foster care yesterday! <3 <3 Terrified and excited!

  • Jessie November 16, 2017 at 11:54 am

    Thank you so much for sharing Shay! Our family is on our way to our second Chinese kiddo and waiting for that match call! I totally understand your privacy regarding agencies. We have LOVED ours (Holt International). Every thing they do is of the highest integrity and they have amazing staff! They actually were the first to pioneer international adoption after the Korean War, so they have a long history of finding families for children. Just wanted to share in case anyone is looking!

    I can also confirm how God does provide financially, and also in the bonding and attachment (which goes both ways)!! I could share story after story of God’s faithfulness to us and our friends who have adopted both domestically and internationally.

  • Tennessee Gal November 16, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    Adoption has always been strong on my heart and I keep mentioning it to my husband, who is taking a little longer but I can slowly see his heart opening. My prayer request is for his heart to open up on his time and I cannot wait for this journey!!

  • Paige November 16, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    Love this post, you are exactly right…if God is calling you He will not stop! I remember saying out loud to him “you do know how old I am right?” haha. We have 2 little crazy girls from China and I turned 49 while in China adopting our youngest (of 7 kiddos haha). Anyway love how you are sharing your heart. Also I have a totally random question for you as I’m planning my Thanksgiving meal for our crew….do you make your praline pecans for your sweet potato casserole and if not where do you buy them? Would much rather buy lol!

  • Kara November 16, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    I love adoption posts. We are currently (hopefully close to the end) of adopting a 11year old girl who is ward of the state. Her name is Violet and would love a prayer that it will be finalized soon.

  • Anna November 16, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    Thank you for another inspiring post about adoption! And Thank you for offering to pray! How could I not take you up on that offer?
    I am currently in the assessment stage of adoption in the UK, going to panel in the new year and then waiting to be matched. Please pray for God’s perfect timing and matching and wisdom in all decisions being made. Thanks!

  • Sasha November 16, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    I am in a similar situation as you when Andrew was unsure about adoption. I would love if you could pray for my husband and myself as we make this decision together. Thank you.

  • Kristy Best November 16, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    Shay, thank you so much for sharing your story and in the past answering some of my own questions about adoption. You and your sweet family have been an inspiration in our own journey to adopt our precious girl from Korea. Our family of four is so excited to have our Sadie join us soon. I’m so thankful that you’ve shared your story!

  • tara November 16, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    I’ve told you before, but your journey of getting Ashby helped me get the confidence to say yes to China, when I was intimidated by the medical needs. My sweet Ava has been home 3 months now with me and she is the best thing I could have ever hoped for!

  • Sarah November 16, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    I love this post!! I’m adopted and love hearing other people’s adoption stories. Adoption is on my heart and I’m praying that it will find my husband too.

  • Amanda D November 16, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    I am currently in the process of an international adoption. I have been waiting for 13 months (so far) for a referral from Bulgaria. Thanks for the book referral, I have been stocking up on books and haven’t come across this one yet; looking forward to adding it to my library!

  • Holly Hopkins November 16, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    Love this post. We are in the process. We completed our training and are now waiting for our social work visits. We are adopting locally. So far the process has been VERY positive and exciting. You are right there is so much negativity that surrounds adoption. That needs to change.

  • Jessica November 16, 2017 at 5:20 pm

    Shay, I am nowhere near ready to adopt (not even engaged yet!) but you have truly inspired me to do this down the road. Thank you for sharing and I’m sending prayers to you and your sweeties!

  • Maureen C. November 16, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    Beautifully written. Thank you for your prayers.

  • Sara Cordell November 16, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    I ❤️ this post and I love that you are a positive voice for adoption !! We brought our son home from China in early 2015, and he is such a joy! Now we are waiting on God’s plan, as I’m ready for another adoption and my husband is not there (yet) 😉. Jeremiah 29:11

  • Jacqueline November 16, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    I first heard the call to adopt when I began working in inner city schools and saw so many children in the foster care system or adopted. It seems a few other teachers have had a similar calling, funny how that works :). It was the first time in my life I truly felt I was MEANT to do something. My husband is open to the idea, but my greatest fear is that he will never have the same feeling in his heart that I do to truly committ to the process, especially since the cost doesn’t seem feasible to our circumstances. It gives me hope that you and Andrew faced a similar situation in one of you being ready before the other!

  • LEANNE November 16, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    adoption was the best thing we ever did… ever…. and we did it twice… thank you for sharing this post!

  • Heather November 16, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    Please pray for me and my husband James. Adoption has been on my heart for about a year and a half and God is speaking to me daily. (I think I commented on your last adoption post) I finally went to my husband about a year ago, talked about it and decided to research it more and move forward. Just as soon as we decide that, my 11 year old nephew came to live with us because his mom couldn’t handle his behavior. He was out of control. Then my 8 year old niece needed us because my sister left her at my moms to move to Florida and her dad isn’t in the picture. So we took a detour, but that has helped me see that foster to adopt may be the right fit for us. My nephew goes home in January and I think we are going to persue things even if he has to stay with us. Sorry to ramble but I know we definitely need prayer. We have one biological daughter who is 16 and I am only 37. Thank you for all you do.

  • Mindy November 16, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    I appreciate your openness and love reading about your sweet family. I have such a strong feeling that I am meant to adopt. It breaks my heart thinking of all those children out there without a momma to love and protect them. My husband however does not currently have the same feelings. We have a 2 and a 4 year old and he isn’t sure adoption is the right path for us. This causes quite a bit of stress and tension when the subject of adoption is discussed. I ask for prayers that if God is calling us to adopt that he will place that on my husband’s heart and give him the peace of knowing the fincancial part will work itself out.

  • Holly November 16, 2017 at 9:27 pm

    Loved your post! We have been blessed by adoption 3 times. I always tell people if God puts adoption or foster care on your heart I would pray and explore all options. Besides bringing a child in to a family, there is a huge need for CASA’s (Court Appointed Special Advocates) to be a child’s voice in court, mentor an aging out foster teen, bring a meal to a foster family or ofter to babysit if you know them well. Thanks for being such an advocate for so many special children waiting to be discovered and loved.

  • Abigail Carter November 16, 2017 at 9:42 pm

    Adoption is amazing and I simply would not be a mother without. Our little Dane (domestic newborn adoption) is a treasure and we are working on our China dossier right now! Praying to be matched with a sweet little girl. It is wild to think that this little person is most likely sitting in an orphange right now as I type. Thank you for your post!

  • Vicki November 16, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    Adoption is wonderful but also very hard. My daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter feel called to adopt domestically. Their home study was completed nearly 18 months ago, yet still we wait. There has been one heartbreaking failed match when the birth mother decided to parent. We have raised over $20,000 because domestic adoptions can be $20,000-50,000 if not fostering first. Please pray as you feel led. Thank you.

  • Cindy November 16, 2017 at 10:49 pm

    Great info! I think a few other good general questions to ask agencies are:
    -are The Hague accredited
    -breakdown of all fees and what they go towards
    -how they find the children they place for adoption (China is through the government but other countries are not necessarily)
    -do they do any social services in these countries beyond adoption? Anything to help prevent orphans or keep birthfamilies together if possible?

    I think choosing an agency is very important, especially to make sure you understand everything and that you feel comfortable with their ethical practices

  • Erin Port November 17, 2017 at 7:52 am

    I love everything about this post. Yesterday we celebrated my nephew’s 2nd gotcha day. I will never forget that blessed night in the airport 2 weeks later welcoming them home with balloons. Everyone was asking what all the commotion was about :). So we got to share the blessing of adoption with strangers! Keep sharing, you have touched our lives and given me so much hope in times of fear 🙂 xoxo ERIN

  • Meagan Smith November 17, 2017 at 9:44 am

    Amazing! Praying God stirs hearts through this. Thank you for being bold!

  • Myka November 17, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    Adoption rocks!
    So glad I adopted my little Huxley from china this year!

  • Brittney November 17, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    Love this post!😊 Would love prayers for our family. We have 3 precious boys, but somehow our family does not yet feel complete. We struggled with infertility (went through two IVF’s and had a miraculous natural pregnancy) and so I have prayed for the desire for a 4th baby to diminish, but it hasn’t. I am completely open to whatever God has planned – it would be a blessing to adopt! But my husband is adamantly against having another child as he feels content with our 3 kiddos. I have been praying the Lord will change his heart or lead us to our future child/ren somehow..God bless your beautiful family. Love your sweet blog!

  • Diane November 17, 2017 at 6:50 pm

    Thank you for sharing your heart for adoption. I would love your prayers. God put adoption on my heart when I was a teenager. However, I don’t know what his plan is. I am 31 and still waiting on God to bring me a husband. I am not in a place to adopt as a single woman. Please pray for God to guide me.

  • Kendra November 17, 2017 at 9:46 pm

    Thanks for sharing so honestly! I cried – real, happy, tears. So happy for you & your sweet family!

  • Caroline Burke November 18, 2017 at 7:40 am

    Thank you for sharing! Our dossier was accepted in India in September. We are currently waiting for USCIS 1-800a approval and to be matched. Our case worker just left our agency but we had a really good call with our new worker yesterday. Hoping to be matched before Christmas. That would be the best gift.

  • Leslie November 18, 2017 at 11:20 pm

    Hi! I️ have followed your blog and journey through adoption for awhile and it truly has touched me. I️ have known for along time that adoption is on my heart in the future and although I’m not in a place to do that in this moment, I️ would love the opportunity to help someone who is. If you know of anyone trying to pursue adoption but that could use finiancial help, please reach out and let me know, as this is a gift I️ would love to help with this holiday season! God bless you and your sweet family 🙂

  • Marta November 22, 2017 at 9:10 pm

    Sweet Shay, what a beautiful post. I adopted from China, as a single mom two years ago. I so did not have the money but I had the faith, and God opened Every.Single.Door. You are 100% correct, if it is in your heart you will find the way and God will provide. Many blessings to you and your daughters. I hope you and Andrew find it in your heart to bring home that little boy waiting out there for you. 😉

  • Hannah December 1, 2017 at 11:29 pm

    My husband and I made the decision to start the adoption process tonight, and this is the first place I went. My favorite part was your answer to “Why did you choose China?”. Praying that God reveals where our child is too. Thank you for your sharing your wisdom, honesty, and advice!

  • Michelle December 6, 2017 at 10:50 am

    I am so, so grateful for people like you who are willing to share your stories. It has absolutely helped my husband and I go from a place of “we could never” to “absolutely!” We are in the midst of the adoption process right now and started a YouTube channel because we realize that being transparent about our journey helps people shift their thinking away from their concerns about their own lives to the needs of these children. I think looking at it that way helps people to realize they are more equipped than they think they are! Thank you for being so candid and real!
    Our Second Chance Story on YouTube

  • Meghan December 8, 2017 at 9:31 am

    Just saw this on Facebook and thought it was such a sweet, emotional story and thought I’d share!