Ashby’s Gotcha Day {3rd Anniversary}

Three years ago today, we got our Ashby London…

We flew to Xi’an, China and met her in a civil affairs office inside a tall building.  She was sobbing and scared to death, but we were so in love.  We had waited 18 long months for that moment and immediately thought she was the most perfect thing we’d ever seen…and completely worth the wait.

After living inside an orphanage for 2.5 years, it took her a few days to warm up to us.  I can’t even imagine how scared/confused/sad/lonely she was.

Little did we know that the girl in the purple pajamas would change all of our lives forever.  We had no idea.

This kid right here…IS AMAZING.  I can hardly talk about Ashby without crying.  She is precious.  She is sweet.  She is kind.  She is full of love.  She is strong.  She is brave.  She works hard.  She never quits.  She NEVER complains.  She is such a blessing to us.  I cannot imagine our lives without her in it.

Ashby is happy all the time.  And when I say “all the time”, I mean ALL THE TIME.  She is always smiling, always up for whatever we have planned, always eager to cuddle, always excited to talk to you, always just so HAPPY.

Ashby has really matured this year.  We have had some wonderful conversations with her about adoption, forever families, differences and such.  She knows she is so loved by so many and right now, that’s all that matters to her.

I don’t think anyone has ever impacted my life more than this kid.  All of my kids are special and unique, but this girl has opened my eyes and my heart to feelings and emotions I didn’t know I had.  She just has this spirit about her that’s infectious.

I can’t think about this sweetie’s Gotcha Day without thinking of her mom and dad in China.  We don’t know their story.  We don’t know their reasons why.  But what we do know is this…they loved her so much that they didn’t terminate the pregnancy.  They loved her so much that they made sure she was left somewhere where she’d be found.  I pray every single day, that the Lord gives them some sort of sign, some type of supernatural peace that lets them know she’s okay.  I want them to know their daughter is happy, safe, healthy and loved.

Joy.  She is joy.

Happy 3rd Gotcha Day, Ashby London Shull.   I am so thankful to get to be your mom.  I could not love you more. xo

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

Madeley Post Adoption: Month 15

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: HERE

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  • Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog January 4, 2018 at 4:41 am

    I’ve missed your posts, Shay! Hope you and your family had a lovely New Years! 🙂
    Happy Gotcha Day to Ashby! You two are so lucky to have each other ❤️

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • Gina January 4, 2018 at 5:30 am

    Oh how I love this little girl. I will never forget the first photo you posted and that day I began to pray for sweet Ashby. She is going to change the world….just like her mama! Thank you for sharing your beautiful girl with your readers.

    I believe in finding the good in ourselves and speaking to ourselves the way we speak to our babies…with love and kindness. I want you to post your favorite photo of yourself and compliment three things about you that never change regardless of age or weight.

    Part two is three times per day. Repeat that out loud in the mirror. I’ll go first!

  • Gina January 4, 2018 at 5:32 am

    Oh Shoot. Please let me retype.

  • Gina January 4, 2018 at 5:34 am

    I will never forget the first photo I saw of Ashby in her purple penguin pjs. I loved her for you. Her smile lights up a room. She is going to change the world…just like her beautiful mama!! Thank you for sharing her with us!

  • Elspeth Mizner January 4, 2018 at 5:40 am

    Sooo sweet! Happy gotcha day Ashby! Hope you are having fun on your vacation!

  • Laura January 4, 2018 at 6:01 am

    She is going to just love going back and reading these one day. Any doubts her future self has about this adoption process will disappear when reading this lovely letter. Love this so much!

    • Melissa January 4, 2018 at 9:11 am

      Shay – Do you print the Gotcha Day posts and save them for the girls in a memory box?

  • Kristen Hardison January 4, 2018 at 6:06 am

    Yay for a new post! And tears looking back on those early pictures of Sweet Ashby! Seems like just yesterday I was reading your blog when you were in China to get her! Happy Gotcha Day Ashby! And Happy 2018 Shulls! ❤️

  • Jess January 4, 2018 at 7:31 am

    She is the sweetest! I read the gotcha day post comments everytime, and even all your followers love her and they don’t even know her! We are fortunate to see her grow up with your family. Thank you for sharing her with us! Every time I read these, adoption tugs at my heart more..!

  • Laura @ Fantastically Four January 4, 2018 at 7:32 am

    Ashby is so inspiring! I’m sitting here crying over my breakfast because of your beautiful words. Adoption is amazing. Thanks for sharing her story!

  • sydnee January 4, 2018 at 7:34 am

    Love seeing her happy face!

    Design by Sydnee | A Lifestyle Blog 💗

  • Natalie Clark January 4, 2018 at 7:39 am

    I love when you post about Ashby! Her little spirit is just infectious even through pictures. She is one amazing girl, and I must say that she is just absolutely beautiful too!

  • Jo Biddick January 4, 2018 at 8:06 am

    Happy Gotcha Day beautiful Ashby! You are a true blessing and inspiration to so many people, lots of them you know and love and so many that you will never meet. God richly bless you now and always darling girl 💕💕💕

  • Erin Koch January 4, 2018 at 8:11 am

    This post made me cry in all the best ways. Bless all y’alls hearts, what a beautiful little girl with such a beautiful spirit!

  • Lauren January 4, 2018 at 8:21 am

    Ughhh crying at work reading this! My coworkers are gonna think I’m crazy but idc because this is just the sweetest most beautiful thing! Thank you for sharing with us! Your family is an inspiration!!

  • Sara Robinson January 4, 2018 at 8:23 am

    I’m so inspired by you every day – you and your amazing heart are a true blessing to this world, Shay.

  • Kim Winardi January 4, 2018 at 8:27 am

    Happy Gotcha Day Ashby!!! God bless you Shay and your wonderful family 🙂

  • Marion Orgaer January 4, 2018 at 8:28 am

    Happy Gotcha Day Ashby!!! So sweet and strong, when I see how strong she is, she is a inspiration for me!

  • Elyse January 4, 2018 at 8:30 am

    This literally brings tears to my eyes. You all are amazing!!!

  • Chelsea B January 4, 2018 at 8:32 am

    I found your blog right before you all went to China to adopt Ashby. The insta post about K turning up your oven and burning your cake to be specific! 😂 I love reading about each of your children and their lives, but Ashby gets me every time. Her light shines through every picture and post ❤️

  • Erika January 4, 2018 at 8:33 am

    Everytime you share about her it makes me cry. It’s so evident the love she has at home, but I hope one day you both can know how much she is loved and prayed for elsewhere!!

  • Christine Munoz January 4, 2018 at 8:35 am

    Every time I read about all of your girls (and Smith, too) I cry my eyes out. Your family is so amazing and we’re all so blessed that you let us follow your journey through life! God bless!

  • nicole January 4, 2018 at 8:35 am

    this post got me all teary eyed — happy gotcha day! Ashby is a blessing to so many …. even those who do not know her in person.

  • Katelyn January 4, 2018 at 8:42 am

    Beautiful to see those before and after photos. You both are blessed!

  • Laura Reimer January 4, 2018 at 8:43 am

    This touched my heart today. Thank you for sharing. Joining prayers to yours for her mom and dad, what a precious thought you have to pray for them. Blessings <3

  • Sheaffer Sims January 4, 2018 at 8:51 am

    Ashby has been such a blessing to my life as well. She is sunshine with skin on and is without a doubt the bravest person I know. Love you so much, Ashby!!!!

  • Brooke Richardson January 4, 2018 at 8:52 am

    And now I’m crying. Ashby is just so special and we are all so blessed by her.

  • Amanda January 4, 2018 at 9:00 am

    The gotcha days and post-adoption update posts are my very favorite. Your family has been so blessed with the addition of your two girls!

  • Meredith January 4, 2018 at 9:07 am

    Shay, I have followed for what seems like forever. I remember when you first announced you were adopting this sweet girl. Each gotcha day, the phone of her, Kensington, and smith gets me. Her eyes look so lost, confused, scared. But look at those eyes now! You can tell she radiates joy. I have loved following along. 💕 xoxo

  • Laci January 4, 2018 at 9:16 am

    Oh sweet, sweet, sweet Ashby!!!!

  • Jess Murphy January 4, 2018 at 9:24 am

    We are getting ready to head back to China to meet our 4th kiddo (waiting to be matched anytime now, but once that happens, it will hopefully just be about 3 months until we head to China), and I’m going back and reading your old posts as a refresher of China and things we need to pack! Thank you for sharing about your sweet girls!! 🙂 Jess

  • Angela Ellingson January 4, 2018 at 9:34 am

    Well fine. Now I’m crying. Love that little Ashby! So happy for you all to have each other.

  • Amy Rae January 4, 2018 at 9:59 am

    Happy Gotcha Day, Ashby! I have tears streaming down my face after reading this beautiful post. I hope you have the best day celebrating sweet Ashby! <3

  • Kathy January 4, 2018 at 10:06 am

    Thank you for sharing! She is just so adorable and her smile is infectious! I’ve been reading your blog for several years now and I remember when you brought her home. May God continue to bless you and your family!!

  • Janie January 4, 2018 at 10:06 am

    So sweet ! I’m thrilled you found each other !! Happy New Year !!!

  • MinShien @ Joyous Apron January 4, 2018 at 10:11 am

    I loved reading sweet Ashby’s story. Beautiful picture of love, courage, and redemption. Thanks for sharing!

  • Alexis deZayas January 4, 2018 at 10:16 am

    It is clear that Ashby has blessed your family BIG! Happy Gotcha Day sweet girl!

  • Emily January 4, 2018 at 10:56 am

    Happy Gotcha Day Ashby! Thank you for sharing your family with us Shay, Ashby is such an inspiration!

  • Lina January 4, 2018 at 11:04 am

    All the feels!!! That first photo where you’re holding a scared little girl just gets to me. Thanks for sharing! We’re about 3 months from picking up our son and I just turn into a puddle thinking about it!

  • Kimberly January 4, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    Ashby has one of the most infectious smiles I’ve ever seen. Can’t believe it has been 3 years already! I don’t doubt for one minute that she will do great things in her life with her wonderful family supporting, and when needed, guiding, her the entire way. As always, thank you again for sharing your joyful little girl’s journey 😀💖

  • Leslie January 4, 2018 at 12:10 pm

    Look at how confident she is! Thanks for sharing her with us.

  • Debbie Hibbert January 4, 2018 at 12:35 pm

    Is it possible to be completely in love with a child I’ll never know? Yes, it is! Your precious Ashby makes me feel ALL. THE. FEELS. every single time I see her in a picture, or read the words you write about her. I have prayed for this beautiful girl, and I will continue to do so. Happy Gotcha Day sweet Ashby.

  • Liz Thorson January 4, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    I am so filled with joy that Ashby is your daughter and you are her mama and that she is in your family and circle of friends! She is precious and all of the words you use to share her with us shout out what is evident through your pictures. I, too, wish her birth parents could know what dear, sweet, wonderful little girl she is and how loved she is by her forever family! Here’s to you, Ashby! News and pictures of you are always special to me–the joyful, silly, happy times as well as the scary, painful times you have to endure with procedures. 🎈🎈❤️🎈🎈

  • Mega January 4, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    Love everything about this!

  • Gail January 4, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    I so appreciate God’s design for the family. She’s a precious little girl.

  • Lindsay D. January 4, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    Hands down Ashby is one of the most beautiful girls in the whole world!!!

  • Nancy January 4, 2018 at 2:28 pm

    Ashby, sweet, kind, brave Ashby. You inspire me so much! I love seeing pictures of you, your contagious joy and how happy you are. Your strengthen is truly amazing. I can’t wait to see how you are going to continue to change this world for the better!

  • Lindsay @ Lindsay's Sweet World January 4, 2018 at 3:18 pm

    Oh happy day!! That little girl is PURE SUNSHINE! I hope she enjoys her very special day!

  • Amanda @ Cupcake N Dreams January 4, 2018 at 3:37 pm

    Happy gotcha day Ashby! It’s amazing what love can do in this world!
    Amanda @ Cupcake N Dreams

  • Vivian G January 4, 2018 at 4:18 pm

    I don’t even know sweet Ashby and I love her so much. I stared reading your blog right when you were in China bringing her home. She’s touched so many hearts with her story. God bless you sweet girl ❤️

  • Callie Friesen January 4, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    I can’t believe it’s been 3 years! I saw that post this morning and thought “how can it already be 3 years?” I remember praying for her the summer after you got her. I don’t remember why then, but I remember specifically her name was in my prayers. Thanks for sharing her story and your story with all of us!

  • Susan January 4, 2018 at 10:29 pm

    I hope Ashby had a wonderful Gotcha Day! today! She has touched me, and I’ve never met her! She is such an inspiration, and her personality is very apparent in the photos. Thank you for sharing her! I, too, hope her birth parents feel a sense of peace and know that she’s loved and doing well.

  • Robin January 4, 2018 at 11:44 pm

    The photo of Ashby in your lap and Kensington’s little hand just got me for some reason. How great that you and your family felt you had love still to share to bring Ashby and Madely home.

  • Deanna January 5, 2018 at 1:40 am

    Hi Shay,

    I loved this story so much I had to leave a comment. Your words have touched me. “ They loved her so much that they made sure she was left somewhere where she’d be found. I pray every single day, that the Lord gives them some sort of sign, some type of supernatural peace that lets them know she’s okay. I want them to know their daughter is happy, safe, healthy and loved.” I truly hope her parents know that their daughter is loved by what seems to be the most kindhearted family that one can dream of. What a kind soul you have! You are an inspiration to me. I would be so blessed to be at least half the mother you are by raising wonderful humans, teaching them about kindness and compassion. You go, Shay! 💗

  • Jaren January 5, 2018 at 5:17 am

    I always love reading about this sweet girl! I’m always amazed at how God’s plan is so much bigger and better than our own. Thank you so much for sharing her with us!

  • Shan Rocha January 5, 2018 at 6:27 am

    I ❤️❤️❤️ Reading your posts, seeing pics, vids, anything with Ashby! Her smile in infectious:) all your kids are adorable 🙂 welcome back !! Cant wait to read about your trip !

  • Kimberly January 5, 2018 at 6:36 am

    People do not terminate pregnancies because they do or do not love a child. People terminate pregnancies for health reasons, for economic reasons, for reasons of timing that we can’t assume to understand.

    • Mix and Match Mama January 5, 2018 at 8:29 am

      In China, they are encouraged (if not forced) to terminate pregnancies if they suspect there is a special need involved or if the mother has too many kids already (or is unmarried, etc). They can even terminate at 40 weeks.

  • Amanda @ That Inspired Chick January 5, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    Love love love everything you said here, friend. You’ve got me tearing up now. That Inspired Chick

  • Sandra Schultz January 5, 2018 at 11:09 pm

    Precious Ashby, so brave and so sweet. I love seeing pictures of her. Her sweet disposition shows through her beautiful smile. What a pretty little child of God’s.

  • Marta January 6, 2018 at 4:30 pm

    God bless your family and Ashby’s family. Both have brought forth into the world an amazing child. When I think of all the procedures she has been through and the strength of character she has shown. She is special. Shay I just tear up.

  • Erin Port January 7, 2018 at 4:09 pm

    This is so encouraging to read as we are knee deep in home study paperwork knowing our little one is in China just waiting for us. Loved watching your story unfold and your beautiful family! xoxo ERIN

  • Emily January 17, 2018 at 7:35 pm

    I haven’t been able to catch up on your posts for a while, but happened to check-in today. I read this and cried. I first learned about you through the Bachelor (I’m sure you get that a lot! 😉 ), and then really started following you when you posted about adopting Ashby. I’ve had adoption on my heart since before then, but even more so as I’ve gotten to know your stories. I don’t know the point of this post, except to say I’m going to keep praying. And keep reading. And I know God will guide my way. I appreciate all you do to spread awareness about adoption!

  • Ann Marie Tennison January 29, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    This sweet girl is a blessing to many!! Our sweet girls *and me* adore Ashby!!