Another piece of the puzzle.

Adoption is a funny thing.  It’s built on a lot of trust after a devastating loss.

It’s been such an honor and privilege, and extremely humbling, to raise someone else’s daughters.  My favorite quote on adoption is by Jody Landers.  She says, “Children born to another woman call me mom.  The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that privilege are not lost on me.”  Yes.  This is exactly how I feel.  Yes.

As an adoptive mama, I find myself always trying to put pieces of my girls’ story together.  We know so little about them prior to when they were adopted.  We don’t even know their actual birth dates.  Their stories didn’t begin when we received them, they began two years before that.  They’re stories that we’ll never truly understand, but nevertheless, they make them who they are today.

Last week, we learned a new piece of the puzzle for Miss Madeley.

When we first got Madeley in China and then flew to Guangzhou for the final steps in the process before heading back to America, several people started telling us that she wasn’t Chinese.

I mean…that’s weird, right?  We were standing there in China with a baby from a Chinese orphanage, but other American parents and the Chinese people who were there with us helping us through the process commented from time to time that she wasn’t Chinese.

We brought Madeley home and pretty regularly, people would stop me and ask about my girls and then comment on how the little one didn’t look Chinese.

I mean…let’s just pause and talk about that for a minute.  It’s 2018 and people are commenting on my child’s race and/or ethnicity.  In front of them.  Like it’s no big deal.  Can you imagine someone commenting on your kid’s race?  Questioning it?  In front of them.  Friends, it happens all the time.

I’ve gone through a lot of emotions over the last 19 months regarding this subject.  I’ve gone from: perplexed to confused to annoyed to thinking it’s comical to being pretty darn offended to laughing it off to telling people to back off to being confused again.  I mean, it doesn’t matter.  She is Chinese by definition because she was born in China (or so we think).  She was a Chinese citizen.  She held a Chinese passport.  And whether she’s Chinese, Ethiopian, American, Russian or frankly, a Martian, she’s mine and I think she’s perfect.  BUT…we decided to do a 23andMe test to see just exactly what her sweet little makeup is so that she knows.  Because at this rate, people are going to keep asking her as she gets older, and she should have a confident answer, right?

We ordered the test, Madeley did her part (spitting in the collection tube) and we shipped it off.

Four weeks later, we got the results.

When I opened up the email, it said ethnicity: Laos.

So, there you go.

Her little genetic make up said she was in fact 44% Chinese, but mostly Laotian.   And we think it’s just the coolest little thing to know 🙂 .

All week, we’ve been talking about Laos.  Now, we all want to visit.  We want to see the culture, eat the food, and learn more about it…just like we did China.

What does this mean?  Most likely that one of Madeley’s birth parents was Chinese and the other was Laotian.  Were they married?  Did they live in China?  We will never know.  We do know that they produced the most beautiful little girl though with the sweetest personality.

I had a couple of friends/family say that this made them a little sad for Madeley because it’s just one more thing we don’t know about her.  Yes, I totally see that perspective, but I’m choosing to think it’s just one extra thing we DO know about her.  One more piece of the puzzle that makes Madeley Shull the unique person that she is.

I think about my girls’ birth mamas every single day.  Madeley’s mom gave her up at two months old.  Can you even imagine?  Realizing that for whatever reason, your sweet two month old was better off abandoned than in your care?  I bet she thinks about Madeley every day too.  My prayer always is that God gives these women little signs, little emotional moments of peace, that makes them think their girls are doing just fine. 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: 3 Years

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 April 26, 2018 at 4:37 am

    This is awesome, Shay! I’ve heard so much about 23andme and it never occured to me that it would be perfect for adopted families. What an interesting tidbit of information – but it changes nothing about your love, of course! 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    • Veronica Griffin April 26, 2018 at 9:10 am

      Wow every time I read your blog I am just an awe. Those girls are blessed to have you as their mama. What a journey they will have being apart of your family and adding pieces to this amazing puzzle.

  • Holly Breton @ Pink Lady April 26, 2018 at 4:50 am

    This was heart wrenching to read. I am so sorry that you and precious Madeley have to face such ignorance even in these times of more acceptance. She is blessed beyond words to have you and you are so caring for thinking of her birth parents- I can’t even imagine how complicated but please know you inspire all of us every week with these posts.

  • Audrey Dawkins April 26, 2018 at 5:06 am

    I can’t believe people say anything other than how cute she is. 😊

  • Heather Bramlett April 26, 2018 at 5:11 am

    She is precious! I just want to squeeze! Those cheeks and legs! Oh my!

  • Jordan@the2seasons April 26, 2018 at 5:17 am

    I have been to Laos twice and it is one of my favorite country to visit. Everything about the country is beautiful. The people I have met there are as nice as can be. I hope you do visit someday you will Love it!

    • Kristin S April 30, 2018 at 8:17 pm

      I was just about to type the exact same thing except I’ve only been once.
      I do hope your family is able to visit someday!

  • Elspeth Mizner April 26, 2018 at 5:30 am

    Wow! How incredible. No matter what people say she looks absolutely perfect!! Technology is amazing when it comes to learning more things about us. THank you for sharing

  • Erika Slaughter April 26, 2018 at 5:37 am

    We LOVE that girl!!!

  • Becky April 26, 2018 at 5:38 am

    As an adoptive mom, I too treasure those tidbits that come our way. Madeley is precious, treasured, and I have always loved her little scrunched up eyes, big smile, and tan skin. I get what you are saying about comments. My daughter has triplets, now 12, and would get all kinds of comments. One day I was taking them for a walk and someone asked if they were real. I said, ‘No, they are plastic’. I guess I kind of snapped! Laos sounds like your perfect next vacation…..

    • Mix and Match Mama April 26, 2018 at 5:40 am

      I’ve snapped before too, Becky. It happens to the best of us. Ha!

  • Tara G. April 26, 2018 at 5:43 am

    I’m going to email an article to you that I think you’ll appreciate and enjoy.

    Madeley is just downright cute.

  • Lina April 26, 2018 at 5:44 am

    Wow! What amazing insight! Really cool that you were able to find another piece to the puzzle. I’m sure that Madeley will appreciate that you went the extra mile to look into this for her when she’s older. Btw- we’ll be flying out to meet our son soon (hopefully he’ll be home by July) and that Jody Landers quote hits me so hard. Appreciate all your transparency and heart for adoption, Shay!!

  • Kristen Walters April 26, 2018 at 5:50 am

    Wow- so cool!!! She is absolutely beautiful no matter Her ethnicity! YES I COMPLETELY get what you are saying when people question my kids ethnicity/ background right in front of them. I will say that as of recent we haven’t encountered it nearly as much as we did when they were younger (they are 12 and 10 now).

  • Jen April 26, 2018 at 5:50 am

    Wow! That is so interesting. We adopted Anna right after you adopted M. from same orphanage in Xi’an. The Chinese said the same thing to us! That our daughter did not look Chinese. Now she has thick long wavy black hair and the cutest bubble booty. Now I am going to have to order the genetic testing kit!

    • Mix and Match Mama April 26, 2018 at 6:04 am

      That’s so cool! Ashby is from Xi’an too! I am so glad we did this! It was easy and the results have really helped us connect one more dot for our sweet girl.

      • Melissa April 26, 2018 at 6:39 am

        I’m sure someone has asked… Did you order the test for Ashby?

        • Mix and Match Mama April 26, 2018 at 7:01 am

          Yes! We have now. We ordered one for her and also for Andrew and me.

  • Bethany Kimsey April 26, 2018 at 5:56 am

    She is absolutely perfect! Beautiful and full of radiance and joy! I just love your perspective on your girls. As a mother to 8 children, I have always been amazed at the comments people feel free to say no matter the impact on little ears.

  • Laura April 26, 2018 at 5:56 am

    Wow! So crazy! I love that you know that now (and that you shared this with your readers!!). I wonder if her parents fled Laos and made it to China around the time she was 2 months? Have you thought about looking up what was going on in that country around the time she was born?

  • Stephanie Landrum April 26, 2018 at 5:56 am

    She is precious!!!! Such a fun post to read.

  • Narci Dreffs April 26, 2018 at 6:01 am

    We love that precious girl! ❤️

  • Liz April 26, 2018 at 6:02 am

    We just had a conversation similar to this in my classroom of 7 and 8 year olds! We have a large Hmong and Spanish population in our community. Sometimes, children (and adults) will ask each other “What are you?” We spoke about feelings and how to respond to the questions… while the most popular response was “Nun-ya” for none of your business, the children did come up with some great responses. “Hmongese or Chimong” for Chinese and Hmong would be Madeley’s response. When in doubt, get the advice from a group of children. They have the best ideas!

    • Tabitha April 26, 2018 at 9:05 am

      But isn’t it an interesting topic of conversation to ask about ancestry /heritage? Why is that none of anyone’s business? I think it’s healthy to be inquisitive of diverse backgrounds – not to be discouraged.

  • Anne April 26, 2018 at 6:14 am

    Her Laotian heritage helps to explain how well she tans in the summer. Just awesome. I guess it will be great fun to find out more about the country, taste their cuisine, learn about their culture. So exciting.

  • Michelle April 26, 2018 at 6:14 am

    Since you did the 23andMe for Madley, why not for Ashby?

    • Mix and Match Mama April 26, 2018 at 6:34 am

      We just did! When these results came back, we thought it was so cool, so we ordered one for Andrew, Ashby and me! We didn’t do Ashby in the first place because no one ever tells us she’s not Chinese.

      • Sarah April 27, 2018 at 5:36 pm

        This is awesome you’re putting her puzzle together. I’m almost 29, adopted from Korea (at 6 months old) and am just starting to put my puzzle together. My parents have always been very supportive, but I never felt the hole that some adoptees feel. I was gifted 23 and Me with the medical portion, and I’m so glad- it jump started my curiosity.

        I’d recommend doing the medical portion (if you didnt), for me, it is cool to finally know something… I used to hate the project in school where we all had to do the family medical trees… though always made my project simple… there was just me and a blank tree 😉 I felt a sense of relief when I finally had some information… though I can no longer deny Alcohol flush and lactose intolerance in East Asians is a real thing… 😉

        I ‘look Korean’ but it was cool to find out that I have Japanese in me (not terribly surprising).

        My brother is also adopted from Korean but doesn’t look Korean. We’ve just ordered him a Kit, so it will be interesting to see what his is!

        Can’t wait to read your blog posts on Laos, you know you all have to go now !

  • Mackenzie April 26, 2018 at 6:18 am

    Was it hard to get Madeley to spit into the tube? We ordered 23andMe for our grandma and she was NOT into the spitting haha, it took all day!

    • Mix and Match Mama April 26, 2018 at 6:34 am

      My friend suggested that we all spit at the same time, so we all had plastic cups and were spitting too. It took us over 20 minutes, but she did it!

  • Julie April 26, 2018 at 6:20 am

    Everything that you said here is exactly how I feel. My 15 year old daughter was born in China and the things people have said to me over the years in front of her even now would make your head spin. I’ve tried to use those opportunities to educate people but sometimes I could just scream right there in front of them for all the world to hear. 🤷🏼‍♀️ I’m so happy that you have a piece of the puzzle for Madeley. My daughter has asked some really tough questions recently so we never stop learning and talking and loving. I too have the greatest love for her birth mother. I always tell my daughter that one day she will meet her birth mother in heaven and wrap her arms around her and say “thank you for loving me”.

  • Barbara April 26, 2018 at 6:22 am

    I stumbled upon your instagram account and am following it since you’ve adopted Ashby… knowing that people are ignorant and mean tells more about them then about you.
    I love every post you write about this precious girls (actually about the all 4 of your children).. you are making a difference in this world and it is just so wonderful that you are able to change a life of someone in such a special way!

  • Sheaffer Sims April 26, 2018 at 6:28 am

    That picture of her in her pajamas with the bow! JUST STOP IT RIGHT NOW!

    • Barbara Parnell April 26, 2018 at 9:57 am

      I thought the same…too cute for words.

  • KERRY April 26, 2018 at 6:28 am

    So neat! You may not know all about her this side of heaven, but her creator does! He will fill you all in one day, prayers that her birth parents will be there too. 😊😊

  • Christy Latimore April 26, 2018 at 6:32 am

    You’re the best and adoption is so amazing!!! Thanks for sharing!

  • Dustie Day April 26, 2018 at 6:33 am

    No matter what, she’s just downright adorable!!! Does this girl ever have a bad day?! she just seems so happy.

    • Mix and Match Mama April 26, 2018 at 6:34 am

      Honestly, no. She is JOY!

  • Becki April 26, 2018 at 6:38 am

    How freaking cool!!!

  • Gail April 26, 2018 at 6:40 am

    This reminds me of Psalm 139:14 because she is…Fearfully and wonderfully made.

  • Liz April 26, 2018 at 6:45 am

    Go to Laos! You will all love it there. But, aside from that, what a VERY cool piece of the puzzle. Doesn’t it make M’s conception even more amazing? Two parents from two different countries met to create your Madeley! She truly is a multicultural girl!

  • Sunni April 26, 2018 at 6:47 am

    Great post, mama!!!!

  • Sara P April 26, 2018 at 6:48 am

    Thanks for sharing, Shay. My son James is from the same province as your Madeley. I have wondered if he may have some Korean roots in addition to Chinese. We will do 23andMe also but will need to wait til he’s a little older to be able to spit sufficiently 🙂

  • Gabriela Miller April 26, 2018 at 6:49 am

    Yes, it’s 2018 and I find it refreshing that whoever made those comments to you chose to be honest rather than fear political correctness…because it led you to find another piece of the puzzle!
    I’m half Chinese and also wondered the same about Madeley; but I’ll admit if I had been in your position and no one had said anything, I would have not questioned it further either, simply because I also would assume she’s whatever nationality she was presumably born in.
    And now I totally want to spit in a cup and find out what I really am, in addition to being Chinese!

    • Claire April 26, 2018 at 7:18 pm

      I’m Filipino and people often ask me what my ethnicity is.
      Instead of being offended, think of it as a good thing people understand there’s a difference between Asian cultures and there are so many of them (rather than it being ignorance or rudeness). It’s similar to people not assuming all Hispanic people are Mexican. How great is it that people could differentiate that she didn’t look Chinese and it led you to the answer!

  • Janette @ The 2 Seasons April 26, 2018 at 6:51 am

    Four years ago my husband and I led a group of friends to Laos where we volunteered in an orphanage for a week. The children were adorable and well cared for, though very poor. It was in a small town about an hour from Vientienne. Then last year we went back and built a school in a mountain town there. The people are so kind. We also rode our bicycles from Vientiane to Hanoi (a very physically challenging ride) and got to see and mingle with the country people. If she has Laotian blood, she is a very lucky girl. They are so kind and warm.

  • Carly April 26, 2018 at 6:51 am

    A fun post to read. Sounds like you guys made a great choice for your daughter. Thank you for making us more self aware and I’m sorry you guys encounter such ignorance. Your heart for adoption is so contagious. Thanks for sharing!

  • Brea April 26, 2018 at 6:54 am

    I’m adopted and just recently did 23andMe as well! It’s been such a blessing to learn about myself after years of not knowing anything except the city I was born in. The thing I’ve learned about adoption, and you touched on it too, is that as you answer one question, other questions seem to pop up in its place. But I’ve begun focusing less on why and more on the amazing blessing adoption was for me. ❤️

  • kathy April 26, 2018 at 6:54 am

    I love how you all would like to visit Laos now. That is precious. I hope you get to go and learn more about her heritage. What a beautiful post.

  • Nikki April 26, 2018 at 6:56 am

    This post was so beautiful and raw and honest and I just really appreciated it. I think the world of you and your family! Amazing that now Madeley can say she’s Chinese/Laos/American 🙂 What a culture, heritage, gift.

  • Jen Perry April 26, 2018 at 6:58 am

    Hi! I was adopted from Korea as an infant and just love reading your blog about your family! Unfortunately I’ve had my fair share of comments about my ethnicity and I still get them as an adult. Just keep loving your girls, if they have a loving supportive family it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks or says!

  • Mother Henn April 26, 2018 at 6:59 am

    Praise the Lord for His perfect plan! I appreciate getting to watch this puzzle and knowing He puts the pieces together! Thank you for sharing, encouraging, and showing just how far His love stretches.

  • Jessy April 26, 2018 at 6:59 am

    What an amazing piece of God’s story for Madeley! I love following along your adoption journey of your girls! My husband and I lived in Thailand for two years doing mission work and we had the chance to visit Vientiane, Laos! It was such a unique city! I hope you all get to visit someday!

    xo, Jessy |

  • Karen April 26, 2018 at 7:03 am

    I love this post and may do this for our daughter. We THINK she’s “hispanic” but what does that mean? I love the quote too and often wonder about my daughter’s birth mother. We adopted her when she was 6 from CPS care. I wonder if her mother thinks of her (surely) even though she wasn’t a capable mother (she’s currently in prison). I hope she too feels some peace and knows her daughter is safe and loved.

  • Wendy Walker April 26, 2018 at 7:05 am

    She is 100% Shull!!! <3 Sending many prayers and hugs your way.

  • Brooke Richardson April 26, 2018 at 7:09 am

    Madeley is so precious and I think it’s so neat you know more about her. I think it’s really cool actually. I’m going to order a kit now myself as well.

  • Whitney Pegram April 26, 2018 at 7:09 am

    Well how cool is that!? She’s just so stinkin’ cute!!

  • Becca April 26, 2018 at 7:09 am

    What a wonderful discovery of information; and a blessing to know more and another unique detail of her heritage! Laos sounds like a wonderful vacation destination 🙂

  • Abigail Carter April 26, 2018 at 7:11 am

    So neat! One of my best friends is from Laos – you should definitely visit! I know you love that sweet girl no matter what! xoxo

  • Jennifer April 26, 2018 at 7:11 am

    Isn’t it so interesting?! Such wonderful tools we have available to tell us to uncover information! I was adopted and my parents had very limited information to pass along to me. They knew that my bio mom was French and bio dad Arab (UAE). So I always had in my mind that I was 50/50 of those. The genetic test told us that I’m actually more like 60/40 with Italian mixed in with the Northwestern European. As well as Western Asia mixed in with my UAE and North Africa. It just makes you feel like you have a better understanding of where you came from since we don’t have bio family members to pass on that information.

  • Sandy April 26, 2018 at 7:13 am

    I am fascinated by genetics and ethnicity. If I see a unique looking person, I often wonder what give a them that look. It doesn’t change anything about them or my opinion of them. I guess it’s like you say a piece of the puzzle. I don’t tend to ask people I don’t know even if my curiosity is overactive.
    Madeley is precious and beautiful. How special for her to know that piece of her.

  • Amy April 26, 2018 at 7:17 am

    Reading this post as I literally sit here nursing my 2 month old and I’m in tears. Her mama was so brave. I can’t even imagine what it takes to choose to put your child up for adoption. She’s an amazing woman.

  • Lisa Black April 26, 2018 at 7:19 am

    People can be so rude! Sorry Shay! Who cares what she is….SHE is precious, SHE is beautiful, SHE is happy and SHE is loved! Her bright light shows in every picture you post! ❤️ Xoxo, sweet Madeley! I would love to hug you one day!

  • Lori April 26, 2018 at 7:19 am

    My favorite is the one where she’s blowing a kiss, #framer! The comments in front of the girls, unfortunately it’s lack of thought and lack of education. As far as the world we live in has come there is still far to go! This doesn’t make it easier but they watch how you handle it and you are doing an awesome job! Even post like this help make others aware where they might not have been before.

  • Sarah April 26, 2018 at 7:28 am

    I totally and completely love this post!! I’m a Korean adoptee and virtually my entire life, everyone has asked me, “what kind of Asian are you?” or wondered if I was 100% Asian. At first I laughed about it, but was devastated one day when at a work dinner with Chinese colleagues, they spent a large portion of the dinner discussing my lineage. I guess I don’t “look” Korean. I took an Ancestry DNA test and it came back with 100% Asian (sort of unhelpful). I’m thinking of trying 23andme to see if it gives more answers, but at the end of the day, I’m me. I live in the US. I love a good hot dog at a baseball game. 🙂

  • Allison Koneschusky April 26, 2018 at 7:28 am

    Really touching and heartfelt reading this story! It’s really weird- but reading your blogs about Madely, she reminds me of myself and my little cousins. I too am Laotian and it really almost made me tear up to find out she is too. Just to know that she has a great home and a great family. Thanks for sharing this little piece of her story with us! I hope you get to visit our country!

    • Mix and Match Mama April 26, 2018 at 7:48 am

      Thank YOU for sharing, Allison!!!

  • Andrea April 26, 2018 at 7:30 am

    This child just puts the biggest smile on my face with every picture you post! She’s adorable and looks like she has personality plus! Does she just make you laugh all day long?

  • Katie A April 26, 2018 at 7:31 am

    This is so cool! She’s adorable no matter what! It’s amazing what we can find out these days!

  • Kassy April 26, 2018 at 7:33 am

    Madeley is a doll. It is great that she knows an additional piece of her heritage. You never know, as you were in China or if you visit Loatia one day, you may be sitting next to one of her family members, they may have been your wait staff at at a restaurant or the chef preparing your meals. You never know! We should treat everyone with respect no matter what they look like or where they are from.

  • Tracy April 26, 2018 at 7:35 am

    This is so cool! (The things people say to you are NOT cool though!). Your girl is adorable! Thanks for sharing so much of your life with all of us.

  • Amy April 26, 2018 at 7:40 am

    I have friends that live in Laos and would love to show you around I’m sure! My sister went to visit! You guys should go! That’s pretty cool, Madely!

  • Audrey Bolton April 26, 2018 at 7:42 am

    This has me crying all the happy tears because I can relate to this so much! Never thought about doing a DNA test but I definitely want to do that when my son gets older. SO SMART! Although I never met our birth mom, I pray every day that God gives her a peace about her son and that she knows he is well loved and taken care of by us. I think about her often and what she’s doing, where is she living, does she miss him…all I know is she was a very brave mama and that I owe everything to her because her son made me a mama.

  • Alicia Fedell April 26, 2018 at 7:45 am

    Fascinating. What a beautiful piece of her puzzle to discover. Today is my daughter’s 2nd birthday and her first one home with us. I’ve been thinking about her birth momma ALL week. (and pretty much every day since we got her) We do know that today is her actual birthday and I just keep thinking of her momma. She gave birth two years ago today to my daughter. The magnitude and tragedy of that is not lost on me either.

  • Kelly April 26, 2018 at 7:47 am

    Miss Madeley is just precious, that’s what she is:).

  • Chelsey April 26, 2018 at 7:48 am

    Miss Madeley reminds me of my youngest. Their personalities SHINE SO BRIGHT! Now, how in the world did you get her to spit in that little tube? Haha! I didn’t AncestryDNA for myself and it was a lot of spit!

  • Alexis deZayas April 26, 2018 at 7:51 am

    God knew what He was doing when He made that sweet girl for your family. So happy that y’all get to explore and embrace this new culture with her!

  • Jamie April 26, 2018 at 7:51 am

    Shay, this had me in tears for a couple of reasons. First, I can not believe people would question Madeley’s ethnicity. So rude. Secondly, I don’t think people realize how important these puzzle pieces really are. My uncle was adopted almost 70 years ago domestically. There are no records and basically no information. He has struggled with this his entire life. Everyone is different but i really feel that learning anything would have helped him. So not only have you done a wonderful thing making one less in this world, you have answered another piece of her puzzle.

  • Taylor April 26, 2018 at 7:55 am

    So touching, Shay! You are bringing much glory to God!

    I am a newer following of your blog and I am so glad I got to read this post. I love how amazing of a mama you are.

  • Bridget April 26, 2018 at 7:56 am

    How amazing that this testing exists to be able to give Madeley (and your family) this information! And I know you will all have so much fun learning with her about Laos! (side note: any post with lots of smiley Madeley photos is a winner – she is the cutest!)
    I’m sorry that you have to deal with ignorant comments, but I’m sure you’re showing Madeley (and all your kiddos) how to stick up for herself and be proud of who she is 🙂

  • kellie carrara April 26, 2018 at 8:01 am

    Wow! That’s so cool to know! It’s funny…as AMERICANS we have ALL kinds of stuff from EVERYWHERE that makes up our genetics, and we would never say someone doesn’t look American, because we all look different, right? It irks me too that someone would say a child (or anyone) doesn’t LOOK like a stereotype we have in our head. I’ve always wanted to find out more about my own (tho I DO know some of it from family stories). I’m excited for your family to learn more about your littlest’s heritage! How special that she gets to share it with YOU!

  • Tracy Doubts April 26, 2018 at 8:01 am

    That is just awesome! You guys are awesome!!

  • Karen Ward April 26, 2018 at 8:05 am

    That Miss Madeley is so beautiful – inside and out. You can just see it in her personality! I never thought once about her not being Chinese, even though she looked a bit different than Miss Ashby. But now that you know she’s part Laotian, I can totally see that! People do say some things they shouldn’t and they should definitely watch their mouths in front of kids. I have a funny story that was shared by a friend’s niece. The niece is dating a man with a son who is bi-racial. He is “brown” with wavy hair. The niece’s son and the boyfriend’s son were sitting in the back seat of the car the other day and niece’s son leans over to the other boy and asked “What are you? Brown, black, white, what? I’m confused.” His mother admonished him and he said “What, mom? I just want to know!” Right or wrong, she’s always going to get asked “what she is”. Just teach her to say “I’m me!”

  • Prudence April 26, 2018 at 8:05 am

    That’s so wonderful that you found out for Madeley. Her pictures show how amazing adoption is. To see the pictures from when your family first met her to now is emotional. Look at how happy and outgoing she is!

  • Susan April 26, 2018 at 8:10 am

    I love your outlook! You are a wonderful mama, and I hope their birth mothers get little signs of peace. I can’t imagine; they are so brave.

  • Dee April 26, 2018 at 8:12 am

    I find this discovery so exciting and fun!!! It’s just so cool. We’re all God’s children and to be able to explore and find ‘home’ in more of God’s Earth is such an amazing thing. How wonderful for your whole family!

  • Scarlett Spangler April 26, 2018 at 8:13 am

    So cool! I think it is such a blessing that we have the means to get these questions answered. You now know 100% what her genetic makeups is… A generation ago, that question would have gone unanswered. It is definitely a happy thing 🙂

  • Ashley April 26, 2018 at 8:17 am

    That is so cool!! I’m so happy for sweet Madeley. Obviously, I don’t know her, but her little personality reminds me of my little freshly 3 year old. She’s a ham too. I do think it is so bizarre how people even think to comment on ethnicity. My sister (white) and her husband (white) have two little girls. When the youngest was a baby, people would always comment to her, “I love little mixed babies”. I mean first of all WHO SAYS THAT!!?? Then they would ask, “what is she mixed with?” My sister would be like, “uhhhh a white American guy?”. She kind of has Asian looking eyes, that’s about all we could figure out, people thought she was Asian I guess. People are strange…..I think that is soooo cool about Madeley and so great to know her culture.

  • Erin April 26, 2018 at 8:18 am

    I love seeing God reveal glimpses of his perfect plan. What a blessing! And I just love reading your blog… God bless you and your precious, joyful family!!

  • Laci April 26, 2018 at 8:20 am

    The only thing I know about Madeley is she is absolutely the cutest baby girl I have ever seen! I am so sorry you have to navigate the rude comments regarding your precious girls but they are just an absolute joy to watch grow up through your blog. Madeley and Ashby are two beautiful girls who brighten my day every morning!

  • Dianna April 26, 2018 at 8:21 am

    Thank you for sharing this with us. Madeley is just adorable and I love that you help your girls learn about their culture and their history. You all are so blessed to have each other.

  • Amber April 26, 2018 at 8:22 am

    Genetic testing is an awesome resource for adoptive families! Like you said, it provides some answers we never would have found otherwise. We have had it done for our children and found out some really great things that I can’t wait to share with them when they’re older. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Paige Connell April 26, 2018 at 8:23 am

    I love that you were able to find out more details about Madeley’s background! And I hate that people have spoken to you in ignorance or thoughtlessness. Honestly, knowing her ethnicity is like figuring out if your biological child is right- or left-handed. It doesn’t change anything about them; it’s just one more component of who they are, not the defining characteristic. And I agree with several other comments I’ve read–it sounds like you may already be planning a fabulous and educational vacation to Laos one day! 🙂

  • Paula April 26, 2018 at 8:25 am

    I guess O don’t recognize Chinese children vs Laos children because I never thought twice about it. I do know, she is perfect and just as she should be. God placed her with the perfect family.
    I look forward to reading about this family trip ..I am sure you are planning it soon. 😁

  • Sonya April 26, 2018 at 8:27 am

    So cool! I wanted to add that Minnesota (my state) has one of the largest population of Laotian/Hmong people in the United States and we have two gigantic festivals each year, one over the 4th of July and one for Hmong New Year, so just in case you wanted to experience a lot of culture without a big trip!

  • Shelbie Fitch April 26, 2018 at 8:28 am

    Miss Madeley is just the most beautiful little girl, regardless of her ethnicity! I like to remember that as God’s children, we are all members of the same nation- His!
    Awesome that you have one more little piece solved!

  • Cece April 26, 2018 at 8:29 am

    Beautiful piece of puzzle to discover! I am also a mix from SOuth Asia and Madeley definetly looks like a south East Asian girl. It is great that you and Andrew took time to do extra research for her. She will be very great full in the future.
    If you wish to visit laos, I just been in November. I am sure you will love it. It is very different from China. People are so nice and so friendly. Nature over there is beautiful. The country is still very poor and a lot of Chinese invest in Laos currently.
    Madeley is such a sweet girl. Nothing will change in the future as you guys love her so much.

  • Keisha Dawson April 26, 2018 at 8:33 am

    It seriously blows my mind that people would have the audacity to question her ethnicity in front of her and to you… What business is that of anyone?!?! I do, however, think it is so cool that you did this for her. She is an absolute doll no matter what!

  • Libby B April 26, 2018 at 8:46 am

    Those tests are awesome no matter why you take them! I got one in a white elephant game this past Christmas and thought it was so cool that I ordered for all of us. I wanted everyone to see their exact results — it’s so interesting!! And so anazing to see how He made us!

  • Sally April 26, 2018 at 8:46 am

    I often wonder how people have the audacity to make comments like that, especially in front of the child. Although, it’s cool that it made y’all decide to test her. She is so precious and I love reading your blog about all your children.
    I’m adopted and thought about doing the test, but at 55…….it doesn’t really matter:) Just keep on loving your 4 babes. They are special!

  • Joy Nivong April 26, 2018 at 8:47 am

    That’s so awesome. There is a Lao restaurant in Murphy that’s delicious if you would want to trek out there from McKinney. It’s called Sticky Rice. I’m Lao-American and love my mom’s cooking the most because who doesn’t love their mother’s cooking, but this place is pretty good for when I’m craving a taste of home.

  • briana April 26, 2018 at 8:48 am

    She is just adorable. That Moana costume gets me every time! It’s so cool that you were able to learn this new piece of information about her heritage. I’m sure she’ll appreciate that as she gets older.

    briana |

  • Amanda @ That Inspired Chick April 26, 2018 at 8:53 am

    This is so cool!! So happy y’all figured out another piece of the puzzle with that precious little girl!! I got my dad one of those kits for Christmas and he STILL hasn’t done it!! I need him to it!!
    That Inspired Chick

  • Traci Keel April 26, 2018 at 8:54 am

    Laos is in my top 5 places to travel. I so hope you all go so you can write about it. My daughter is adopted too. 🙂 It was a domestic adoption and even still there are so many things we don’t know even thought I met her birth mom. I think finding out for here was such a kind thing to do for her- you won’t believe all the questions they will ask later. You’ll be so glad you put pieces together for her. 🙂 Happy Thursday!

  • Lisa Richardson April 26, 2018 at 8:56 am

    I love how you said you’d didn’t care if she was a martian❤️ Yes, what does it matter to anyone else? She is beyond precious and you can’t look at her and not feel her joy and smile! Those tests are so cool. I have a cousin, adopted from Russia. She’s 20 and her mom gave her the Ancesrty test for Christmas (because she knew she wanted it). She was shocked to learn she was a small percentage Asian. 😊

  • Tausha Manis April 26, 2018 at 8:58 am


    My heart is happy for you to be able to find this out for precious Madeley! I’m so sorry you are having to deal with ignorance and unbridled tongues! My daughter is also adopted from China. We also have 3 other children just like you do! 3 girls and one boy! One of my birth daughters is only 5 days younger than our Chinese daughter. We get comments ALL THE TIME!! I think mostly people are being kind, but A LOT of times they are just plain RUDE! There’s not one time we can go somewhere as a family and not get the “you have your hands full” comment. And the oh she’s “oriental” comes up sometimes. I could just scream! Thankfully, my daughter is still young and this doesn’t yet phase her but I know that very soon it will. And I’m not sure my momma heart is ready. I love reading all about your precious family. Thank you for encouraging people to adopt. Thank you for sharing the REAL. Praise Jesus for allowing us to mother some of the most precious souls on Earth! Big momma hugs from me to you lady! We will love big and fight big for our precious babies!

  • Stephanie April 26, 2018 at 8:58 am

    Great post Shay!! I’m glad you all know more about M! Can’t wait to hear what you find out about A! Some many educational opportunities exist now because of these results. Thanks for sharing with us.

    As an adoptive mom, I’m constantly amazed at the inappropriate questions people ask while walking the aisles of the grocery store, and my daughter is blond-haired, blue-eyed, fully America. I can’t imagine the number of additional questions that you get with the girls. I know, like me, you love to talk about adoption, but questions specifically about the kids are inappropriate while out in public.

  • Lisa April 26, 2018 at 9:07 am

    The pictures you post of Madeley always make me smile! I can’t believe people have anything to say other than how adorable she is, and her 3 siblings! I love that you found another piece of the puzzle for her.

  • Jennifer April 26, 2018 at 9:08 am

    This is the neatest thing! She gets to share something with Ashby, but yet gets to be her own little person too.

  • Maria April 26, 2018 at 9:10 am

    This post warms my heart! I’m Laotian as well! I was born here in the US, but my parents immigrated here from Laos. If there is any questions you may have regarding Laotian people, food, culture, etc. I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have. But as I’m sure you already know Laotians are gracious people who love to have fun! 😁

  • Allena April 26, 2018 at 9:12 am

    We used 23andme a few years ago to determine if our son had a genetic mutation called MTHFR (he does), so we didn’t translate for ethnicity but for all genetic mutations and that was fascinating as well. Like he has a mutation that is linked to nosebleeds – which makes perfect sense because my husband and I had them all the time as kids and he does too! It’s fascinating what you can learn from spit. I think it’s really amazing that you learned a little more about Madeley – I imagine that will be really appreciated by her when she’s older.

  • Katie Culver April 26, 2018 at 9:19 am

    I’ve read your blog forever, and I never comment, but I can’t help it today! I am so moved by your adoption posts and your Madeley is just the sweetest (and Ashby too of course!) . I really have no clue how you get anything done with a little somebody like that around- she’s just SO DARN CUTE!

  • Jessica April 26, 2018 at 9:21 am

    I love your perspective on their birth mothers. My husband was in foster care and I mostly think negative about the choice his mother made to put the kids in that position. I’m going to take your lead and try to think about what a difficult choice it was for her, leaving her children thinking they would be better off than with you. Thank you for helping me see a new outlook!

  • Julie Kitchens April 26, 2018 at 9:25 am

    I can’t believe people ask you that but more so say something to your babies!! Mercy! Is it crazy i have never wondered anything about her looks? I haven’t even noticed that Ashby looks more Chinese because i guess i just see her as a Shull. She is beautiful and perfect and i hope her birth mom does that have that sweet presence of peace knowing that she is perfectly fine and so very loved. I have 4 kids and could never imagine giving them away at 1 second old but two months! Takes my breath away to think of her pain. Shay… what joy it is to read about your family and these precious girls that made you all complete.

  • Doreen April 26, 2018 at 9:28 am

    Beautiful story.

  • Aimee April 26, 2018 at 9:29 am

    So glad that you shared this piece of Madeley’s puzzle with us. I’m Vietnamese and have always been told that I don’t look it. Only on a few occasions have I ever been offended or annoyed by that comment. Could their delivery have been better? Absolutely. But I find that most people really are just curious, and their question comes from a good place. (And I’ll bet when they ask you, it’s because they want to know where your sweet girl got her beautiful features!). My husband is Caucasian and our daughter is a beautiful mix of the two of us. When she gets questions about her ethnicity, she is PROUD to answer that she is both Vietnamese and “white” :). Thanks for letting me share another perspective!

  • Felicia Nguyen April 26, 2018 at 9:30 am

    Gosh..Shay..I totally understand where u are coming from…I am Vietnamese and have been asked many times…if I was this or that…not to be blunt but I honestly think it kinda rude sometimes. I am happy that you found out..I have many friends who are’s just another region .they have many different cultures and traditions like Chinese and Vietnamese matter what she is the CUTEST little girl ever!! I love seeing pictures of her bc she is always smiling…always cheers me up looking n reading your post!! Truly BLESSED!! ❤️

  • Kari Maddox April 26, 2018 at 9:37 am

    I remember when you told the story when you were in China that an older lady came up and pointed at Ashby and said “she is Chinese” and then at Madely “she is not” and thinking BAZARRRRRO! That stuck in my head and wondered if you would ever talk about it again….and you DID. Cool information that is interesting but by far doesn’t make who the GIRL is….she is yours…and if YOURS is a Country….she is in it 🙂

  • Shelly April 26, 2018 at 9:39 am

    Such sweet words Shay! Her DNA is only a teeny part of who this girl is. I feel like all kids who receive the love they so need will become the very best version of themselves one day. My mom gave up a daughter for adoption and 26 years later they reunited and have had a relationship ever since. I cannot imagine what my mom went through and how it changed her as a person and as a mom to me & my brother to know all those years she had another little girl out there.

  • Elizabeth April 26, 2018 at 9:42 am

    23andme is INCREDIBLE!!! We received them as Christmas gifts a couple of years ago. Madeley is absolutely precious! I never even thought twice about her ethnicity, just how cute she is!! Cannot wait to read about Ashby’s results and yours and Andrews! I find it SO intriguing!!!

  • Aulani Morris April 26, 2018 at 9:48 am

    That is so cool!

  • Liz April 26, 2018 at 9:48 am

    How cool! Love that you want to fill in the piece of the puzzle for her! She (and Ashby) are just the cutest!

  • Lennise Rios April 26, 2018 at 9:51 am

    this is so sweet!. i have 4 kids and i would totally love to adopt on day.

  • Sara April 26, 2018 at 9:51 am

    Thank you for sharing this – I love this post! I have never wondered about Madeley’s dna makeup – I’ve always just thought she was adorable! But I am also glad you shared your perspective on being asked about her background (and it sounds like many people in your comments have felt the same) because I although I would never ask a stranger something like this, I wouldn’t have necessarily guessed it was an uncomfortable topic. I love hearing these stories of everyone’s background and love that your family is representative of our wonderfully diverse world! I love how excited you are to learn about Laos – I have to imagine that’s where some of their curiosity came from – excitement, not ill-will. Should it ever come up in the future, I really appreciate having your perspective so I don’t turn my excitement about someone else’s beautiful culture into a topic that may not be one they want to talk about. Xoxo

  • Morgan April 26, 2018 at 9:56 am

    Hi! Madeley is super adorable and that is so cool that you know more about her now! I am curious, did she get all of the genetic information as well about risks, traits, etc. that is included on 23 and Me? I didn’t know if there was an age requirement to obtain all of that. Thanks for sharing!

    • Mix and Match Mama April 26, 2018 at 1:14 pm

      Yes! She did! We bought the kit that included all of that other health info as well.

  • Patricia April 26, 2018 at 9:57 am

    When you first mentioned that comment in an early adoption post, I wondered if she were one of the 55 different ethnic minorities that make up China. Most Chinese are Han. But this is even more interesting. The Laotian are a lovely people, and the country, Lao (the s is a mistake made by the French) is beautiful.
    One does wonder how her birth parents met.

  • Kathy Roe April 26, 2018 at 9:57 am

    Sometimes people can be so rude and judgmental. It is so evident through the pictures you share how Madeley had been such a blessing to you and your family. It is exciting to know a piece of her heritage and will be interesting to find out about you, Andrew and Ashby also. I don’t even know you but I just love your family and love hearing your stories about them.

  • Rebecca Jo April 26, 2018 at 9:58 am

    It is amazing what people will say & have no question if its rude or insensitive or just WRONG to say.
    What a cool thing to take that test & use it in an instance for adoptive children. Brilliant.
    & now that you know she’s part Laos, that’s so much what I see in her. Such a unique little girl – as we all are <3
    I think it's just even more special to learn about that culture as a family… what fun you're all going to have with that.

  • Barbara Parnell April 26, 2018 at 9:58 am

    What she really is is loved..that is the most important thing. You are giving her a life that she might not otherwise ever have had and that is wonderful. She is such a precious little girl. God bless her.

  • Christina April 26, 2018 at 9:58 am

    This just confirms what we already knew: how special Madeley is. ONE IN A MILLION!

    I babysat a girl from Laos and she too was very pretty. Perhaps this helps explains how beautifully Madeley’s skin browns in the sun? Maybe the Laotian people, up in the mountains, are more prone to that lovely, dark skin?

    Thank you for sharing this, Shay. I love your reason for doing this, to help provide M with an informed answer.

    We’d be interested in learning the results of your other tests if you’re comfortable sharing!

  • Pam E. April 26, 2018 at 10:02 am

    Shay, your best post to date ! I was adopted at 6 weeks of age and people would tell my Mom that I didn’t look like any of the family, that was in the 60’s, and I’m Caucasian, people sometimes are just ignorant about what comes out of their mouth. Through 23& me I was able to find my birth father last year . It is the best site for ethnicity and genetic research. I know she will be glad that you did this, because every child wants to know eventually what their DNA is and where they come from. I’m not certain, but in Chinese culture her mother may have had to give her up for adoption if she was mixed with other nationalities. As you know they have such strict guidelines to live by. God sent her to your loving arms and I know from experience she’ll forever be greatful.

  • Mandy April 26, 2018 at 10:08 am

    I’m sorry there are so many ignorant people out there that your family has to deal with these insensitive questions. Madeley is beautiful no matter her ethnicity but I think it’s wonderful that you now know even more about her and her birth parents! I see a trip to Laos for your family in the future!!

  • Niko Whitson April 26, 2018 at 10:11 am

    And that’s why she was the PERFECT Moana! She’s an island girl! The Shulls are blessed to be together!!!

  • Sarah April 26, 2018 at 10:14 am

    This is one of your best – and rawest posts – to date. Not sure if it just struck a nerve with me because although I have three biological daughters with my husband, I get questioned as you do. My daughters do not look alike and each has their own hair color {auburn, dark brown, light brown} and you can’t believe the things people say — like you, I’ve gone through a roller coaster of emotions.
    I think it’s amazing you and brave of you to find out more about sweet Madeley’s past. And your outlook on adoption always tugs at my heartstrings. The way you are raising each of your children is admirable.

  • Anna S April 26, 2018 at 10:15 am

    This is amazing! I see this as such a wonderful blessing. Madeley knows more about herself and where she comes from. I hope you all get the chance to visit the country and learn even more about where your precious girl is from! Keep searching for those answers!

  • Janet April 26, 2018 at 10:25 am

    There is a Hmong community in Tulsa who migrated here after the Vietnam War. There is probably a community of Hmong somewhere else closer to you.

  • Melanie April 26, 2018 at 10:37 am

    That is so cool! And how fun that you will now have Laos to study and learn about!
    I’d love to do the test to find my heritage- I think Scottish and Irish, but I’d love to know for sure.

  • Melissa April 26, 2018 at 10:38 am

    Are you or did you do 23 and me for Ashby? Also, I know that typically they give you names of people that may be related…was that weird to see?

    So cool that she is part Laotian!

    • Mix and Match Mama April 26, 2018 at 1:12 pm

      We ordered a test for Andrew, Ashby and me too! And yes, it’s so cool to see that some of her other genetic relatives have also done a 23 and me!

  • Lindsay April 26, 2018 at 10:38 am

    I can’t believe the ignorance of people to think they can comment on that, esp in front of her! Bless you for putting up with that, and I agree with comments above, all i see is the cutest little girl!!!!! It’s awesome that you did find out for HER! regardless of what any paper says, she is loved and you can tell she loves her family!! love following your blog. xoxo

  • Christina W. April 26, 2018 at 10:41 am

    Until last year, I had lived my whole life in a town in the mountains of NC called Morganton. Morganton and surrounding areas has a huge Hmong population and it was beautiful growing up and seeing their culture. My parents neighbors are Hmong, from Laos. Many members of their family live together in the same house. Their kids play outside 24\7 and they are NEVER sick,their house is beautifully minimalistic,they value family and community, and they eat out of their gardens every day. I recently read Crazy Rich Asians after you recommended it on here, and the stark contrast of the people in the book and the people I grew up with is amazing! It was interesting to see the differences between people from different parts of Asia.

  • Sarah April 26, 2018 at 10:43 am

    I am adopted, and find all this new craze with genetic testing interesting. I think it is wonderful that you, and Madeley, have another piece of her puzzle. My background is also a mystery, which isn’t usually an issue for me personally but when discussing family medical history, etc, the more you know the better. I love your interest for her (and Ashby) and your family’s desire to learn more about these sweet girls and their culture.

    And, as an aside, my third baby turns two months this weekend. I can’t imagine the guy wrenching decision to give that baby up for adoption. It takes a strong, selfless person to realize the love they have isn’t enough and to want more for their baby. Thank you for being a part of that.

  • Leslie Rhodes April 26, 2018 at 10:46 am

    I love that you said no matter what race or even if she were a Martian, she’s yours. That’s right!! 🙂 Such a fun little piece of the puzzle to put together!

  • Darcy April 26, 2018 at 10:52 am

    First, thanks for being honest about people’s comments and how they make others feel. I don’t know that I comment about people’s ethnicity, but I’m not sure I would have been aware of how that would have made someone feel too. And second, what a cool way to use a DNA test?!? I think it’s really neat to know that!

  • Heather Stansell April 26, 2018 at 10:57 am

    Okay Shay. Have been reading your blog forever. Never commented BUT if you look at the picture of Madeley by the pool in your back yard. Look up kind of to the left. What is that?? It’s in the trees, almost looks like an old man???!! Am I Crazy or do you see it to?

    • Mix and Match Mama April 26, 2018 at 1:11 pm

      Hahahaha! I went back to look because I was so curious! Is it the pic where she’s not wearing pants? I think you’re seeing the top of another house back in there.

  • Christina April 26, 2018 at 11:02 am

    So cool! I always thought she looked just like my friend who is from Laos. Laos has so much history, there is a special on travel channel about it, very interesting.

  • Sandy Manning April 26, 2018 at 11:05 am

    I can totally see that ethnicity in Madely. My SIL is Thai and her dad is Laotian. Madely could totally be her daughter. I think it explains the cute cheeks! I always tell my SIL she looks kinda polynesian. I think Madley does too. I doubt people mean to be rude when asking about her but….. I mean she did come from China! However, I must give a small rant on the use of the word “race.” There is only one race. The human one! People used to know that. We have different ethnicities which is why there is differences in skin tone but there is no such thing as different races. Like you said, it doesn’t matter what ethnicity Madely is (but so fun to know!), she is just plain cute!

  • Julie April 26, 2018 at 11:10 am

    This motivates me to get my kids 23andMe kits sent in. They are both adopted from China. Like you, any piece of information I can get about their past is precious. Many Vietnamese people have insisted that my daughter is Vietnamese and some Chinese people in China (we took her when we got my son) have asked if she’s Vietnamese. Of course, our guides and other Chinese have insisted she’s Han Chinese! If I remember correctly, Vietnamese and Han are pretty closely related though. You never know! Thank you for your post about this!

  • Kim April 26, 2018 at 11:13 am

    People just don’t always think before they speak, do they ? (Sigh) I’m adopted from within my birth mom’s family, and as a small child got used to fielding really offensive questions about the circumstances of my adoption. These children of yours are truly blessed. Speaking from my experience, it takes a very special person to adopt another woman’s child and treat her as a gift from God. Bless you and your husband! And bless those sweet babies too!

  • Sara P April 26, 2018 at 11:14 am

    For anyone wondering, Laos is rhymed with “cow”–the s is silent. I think that’s so amazing to learn. Such a gorgeous culture.

  • Anna Lor April 26, 2018 at 11:30 am

    She’s adorable. I’m hmong, a group of people that lives in the mtns of laos. It’s amazing that’s she has some laos in her. Love reading your blog.

  • Jewell Landreth April 26, 2018 at 11:37 am

    I want to do that both for me and my two adopted boys. Although they came out of the U.S. foster care system we have no idea who their bio dads are. They were both Hispanic though and I would love to know what countries. One of our children is very Hispanic in appearance and has a Hispanic name so we get so many comments. After 5 years I don’t notice it as much. The best (worst) is when someone will try to speak to him in Spanish which he does not know at all. He just tells them “I don’t speak Spanish”. A funny note is that we have tried to visit restaurants with various Latin American cuisines. He is my picky eater and he hates it with a passion so we’ve delayed that plan till he’s older. He is my mashed potato and gravy kid!

  • Celina April 26, 2018 at 11:39 am

    Thank you for sharing! I’m 1st generation born Chinese-American in my family, but my whole life I’ve been asked “what are you?!” (terrible way to ask someone!) because my complexion and facial structure don’t “match” whatever people think a person with Chinese heritage “should” look like. A DNA test confirmed I’m 90% Chinese, but I’ve been told I look like everything but Chinese – Korean, Filipino, Thai, Japanese, Hawaiian, even Mexican. But in the end, I’m born & raised American! My husband is Caucasian so our children are of mixed race, but we tell them the same – you’re American with roots from all around the world! I can only hope these types questions stop as my children grow older, our cultures mix and globalize, and we realize we’re all human.

  • Suhana Alam April 26, 2018 at 11:42 am

    She is perfect for your family. Your family is perfect for her. God bless!

  • Amanda Wilson April 26, 2018 at 11:44 am

    I remember when you were in China you wrote someone said that to you!!! Laos is so cool….and definately explains how dark she gets in the summer. I can’t wait to hear what Ashbys says!! Please let us know. You are such a great momma!!!!

  • Amanda April 26, 2018 at 11:49 am

    I think it’s so beautiful that you did this for her! I imagine she will so appreciate knowing her heritage!

  • Linda Grubbs April 26, 2018 at 11:59 am


  • Sara M April 26, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    Thank you for sharing this with us. She is such a sweet and adorable girl and will certainly appreciate knowing more of her lineage as she grows up. I appreciate you noting that people will openly talk to them about the way they look. This is something that nearly all non-Caucasian Americans deal with in the US. My husband and I were born and raised in the US but are of Indian descent. So my children look just like us. It is astonishing how many times we are asked where we are from. The answer is America as we are just as American as anyone else. Their intentions are not always bad but it is clear, at times, that ignorance (and racism) are alive and well. We are all a mash up of different characteristics – our race, our religion, sexual orientation, interests, professions, physical traits and so much more – that the color of our skin cannot be our only defining quality. Thank you for sharing this news with your readers!

  • Nancy April 26, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    Madeley, I can’t ever look at a photo of you without laughing or smiling, you have the cutest, fun and most vibrant personality! Can’t wait to see more of how you’re changing the world for Him!!

  • Emily M King April 26, 2018 at 12:10 pm

    One of the hardest reservations to get in Raleigh, NC is a Laotian restaurant called Bida Manda. Now that you say that, the male owner does look like he could be Madeley’s father. Check it out:

  • MelanieL April 26, 2018 at 12:31 pm

    Miss Madeley IS 100% cute! It’s so awesome that you were able to find out a little more about her.

  • Ruth April 26, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    I was adopted from Korea when I was 6 months old and like Ashby and Madeley, I grew up in a loving family in a wonderful community and was for the most part treated like everyone else.
    I have always had people ask my ethnicity, and I’ve always answered Korean. But I also recently did 23 and Me and was excited to find out that I am actually only 45% Korean — I am also Japanese and Chinese! It never had occurred to me that I might be a mix too.
    Like you said, it is fun to know this piece of the puzzle, especially now that I have kids of my own. Thanks for sharing.

  • Kelsey April 26, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    Hello! I’ve been a reader for a long time but never posted. However, when I was reading this post I was thinking that Madeley sort of looks Thai…and she’s part Laotian which shocked me because…my husband is Lao and it’s such a small country that seems to be mostly forgotten. Just an FYI: Dallas/Ft. Worth has a big celebration this Saturday for the Lao New Year and you could get a glimpse of the food/culture/etc by attending. We are driving in from out of town to participate! If you attend, be sure to be water guns as that’s a huge part of the celebration! Anyways, Madeley is super super adorable and thanks to her sweet mama/family she knows more about herself and where she comes from.

    • Kelsey April 26, 2018 at 1:42 pm

      *bring* water guns…not *be* them..that might be uncomfortable.

  • Philicia April 26, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    What a wonderful discovery! I live in Central California, where we have a large population of Laotian and Hmong. The Laotian and Hmong community have wonderful traditions, food, celebrations and customs. The annual events and costumes for these events are beautiful to see. I look forward to watching her and your family embracing this new treasure trove!

  • Stephanie April 26, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    As an adoptive mom I think you are amazing!! We have 2 daughters that were adopted at 2 days old. One is Caucasian and the other is full Hispanic. I have also been asked about my youngest daughters ethnicity ( is she from India , South America, is she Black). So annoying when people get in your business! About 4-5 years ago we did kits from Ancestry for all of us. It was so amazing!! Ancestry even pinpoints the migration routes tied to your genetic makeup. For our youngest this directly tied to the info given to us by her birth mom. Scientific advances are so helpful to us adoptive families and helping our kiddos understand their ancestry and background!! You are a smart momma!! ❤️

  • Liz THORSON April 26, 2018 at 2:56 pm

    Oh my goodness! This is the 3rd time I’ve tried to leave a comment, only to have it completely wiped out my an Internet connection problem! I LOVED this post both for your sharing of the ache and anger and the positive step you made to find out more regarding Madeley’s life story, and soon Ashby, yours and Andrew’s! It took me back to our two sons’ early years. We adopted them both as newborns from birth parents in our state. Both sets of birth parents wanted closed adoptions. I experienced many questions from strangers as well as aquaintences who asked inappropriate questions, often in our boys’ presence. After feeling angry, insecure and shaken, too many times, I came up with this response: We are comfortable with the information that was shared with us. Usually the person would persist with another question or two. I would repeat my response and then change the subject by asking them a question or just walk away! It was so empowering!
    Your family is absolutely precious! Each of these pics of Madeley are sooo darling and her personality looks to be so happy and as you have implied, JOYFUL! Thank you! I KNOW, within a few years the Shull Family WILL visit Laos! What fun that will be! I have heard so many delightful stories from friends and relatives who have visited Laos!❤️

  • Carla April 26, 2018 at 4:14 pm

    This is so awesome!! I’m so happy that you have another piece of her sweet puzzle. Love it!! Oh and can I just say the second to last picture of her omg!! She looks older!! Why do our babies have to get older!! Enjoy them!! 😘

  • Rachel April 26, 2018 at 4:45 pm

    Check out its a child sponsorship that my church, Westside Family Church in Lenexa Ks works closely with. I have friends that sponsor children in Laos and have been there to meet their child. What a great way for all of you but especially Madeley to learn about her heritage.

  • Andrea April 26, 2018 at 4:59 pm

    I’ve heard from a lot of my Chinese friends to send 23andMe results to – it’s supposed to have a lot more accurate and specific results than 23andMe for participants of East Asian origin. For example “Chinese” vs “Southern Han Chinese” etc.

    This is a great idea though! Never thought about using it to provide a bigger background picture for adopted kids!

  • Mindy Tierney April 26, 2018 at 5:03 pm

    My very good friend is from Laos. They came over to the states when he was a young kid. He has said for several years he wants to take his family back now that his girls are teenagers.
    My niece was adopted from China, but closer to Vietnam and has a lot of Vietnam features. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of her parents was Vietnamese.

  • Jeanie April 26, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    What a wonderful discovery! And I’m so glad you’re seeing it as the glass half full. Thank you for sharing not only the post, but those adorable pictures of Madeley.

  • Kerri April 26, 2018 at 6:34 pm

    I think it’s so cool that you did that just for your own knowledge and as she grows up. I can’t believe that people would actually ask you that. And she seems just from being a blog reader like the sweetest little girl, who just fits in with your sweet family.

  • Romi April 26, 2018 at 7:20 pm

    My children have had to deal with the same thing you have with Madeley. I’ve been asked if my children were mine, I’ve been told they aren’t mine (they clearly are, as I birthed them) and I’ve even had family question their paternity! Seriously! My response after years of this is to say, “I’m going to pray for you.” I smile and change the subject or walk away. God bless you and your precious family.

  • Jill April 26, 2018 at 7:45 pm

    That’s funny because I always thought she looked Korean to me based on the fact that I worked for a Korean dentist for many years and Madely looks so much like his daughter who is about the same age. No matter what her cultural background is, she is adorable!

  • Vivian April 26, 2018 at 7:51 pm

    This is so sweet! I’m Chinese and also wondered a bit about Madeley! I have Hmong and Laotian friends and the history is really fascinating, and at times really, really sad. The Laotian community is not HUGE, since the number of Laotians in the world just isn’t huge compared to Chinese, but they come together super well and are tight knit. I would definitely invest the time to dig into Laotian history. As a Chinese American growing up in Oklahoma, Chinese history was totally lost on me but I so wish I knew more about my culture. Dig into Madeley’s Laotian history and the girls’ Chinese history! It will be such a blessing for them to know where they come from and to piece that together and find their identity here <#

  • Angela Ellingson April 26, 2018 at 9:35 pm

    That is so interesting and fun to know! Our backyard neighbor’s parents moved here from Laos. 🙂

  • Melissa April 26, 2018 at 9:43 pm

    It’s so perfect that your little princess is from Laos! If you look at the shape of the country, it kind of looks like a magic wand with a star at the end. It would be so easy to make “Laos” cookies! Or to even do some really basic geography with your older kids! My brain is exploding with craft ideas….

  • Arika April 26, 2018 at 10:15 pm

    23&Me is amazing! You guys should all do kits if you haven’t already. Your son and husband will be able to gather even more info because they are male.

  • Lauren April 27, 2018 at 5:02 am

    This post made me tear up. Ashby and Madeley are so lucky to have a mama like you.
    I’m so sorry you and your family have to deal with the ignorant comments that other people make. I just don’t get why people think that’s okay!!!!
    Whenever you write about the girls’ birth mothers I get emotional. There is so much judgement surrounding moms who give up their children, but your perspective on it is amazingly compassionate and an inspiration. Quite frankly, it’s made me think about the mamas who have to give up their babies very differently. So thank you for that.

  • Vanessa April 27, 2018 at 5:52 am

    I hate to be a dissenting voice – i mean it with no ill will or criticism, purely for education…
    Many eastern cultures make what Americans would consider blunt or offensive comments in regular conversation to those familiar or to strangers but it is purely observational and not intended with any malfeasance or ill-intent whatsoever. I am a caucasian American who lived for many years in my childhood in a number of countries in Asia and I just returned to the US after living 2 years in India. My husband hadnt ever lived abroad until our recent expat gig so for him it was awkward at first when colleagues would great him with “you look very tired” or “you’ve gained weight” or “your hair is thinning” 😂 instead of “how was your weekend” or “hi” but after awhile he said he grew concerned when he wasnt met with those comments. As a kid, i didnt look like anyone in my neighborhood and understood people outside my immediate family may say things that my family would not but it felt normal while living in those cultures… Watching my own kids, it seems to have made them hold stronger to their opinions/feelings. I imagine feeling weirder about experiencing it here in tbe US, but abroad – it can be as innocuous as telling someone the time of day.

  • Laura @ Fantastically Four April 27, 2018 at 8:06 am

    Shay, how exciting to learn more about Madeley! And, ugh, sorry you’re dealing with inappropriate questions. I still get questions about my (adopted) siblings and how different we are. Love your sweet family, and now I’m excited to follow your journey in learning about Laos!

  • Anne Marie April 27, 2018 at 9:24 am

    I remember in one of you first post regarding Madeley’s adoption, you mentioned that a lady had pointed at Ashby saying that she was Chinese and then Madeley saying that she wasn’t. It stuck in my mind and every time I was looking at a pic of your beautiful youngest daughter I thought of that old post ! I LOVE your blog and the fact that you care about your readers so much that you share such important parts of your life. Much love

  • Christina April 27, 2018 at 11:26 am

    She is just adorable. Her sweet face makes me smile.

  • Susan April 27, 2018 at 2:35 pm

    Wow! That is so cool that you know more about her! I think that is really awesome. I would certainly think a trip to Laos is in order! And I do love that one day she will be able to have that answer when people ask. 🙂

  • Ali M April 27, 2018 at 9:57 pm

    I love your adoption updates every so often, they always make my heart smile. I am adopted and did 23andMe this year to finally find out what all I am and loved my experience! I will say I checked it a few months after my initial results and it later specified my results even more than what I originally got (nothing changed but got more specific in some areas). Not sure if I just missed this the first time I read them or if it updates after awhile based on more scientific information but maybe keep checking them!

  • Jaren April 28, 2018 at 7:29 am

    Oh my goodness! This is the coolest thing ever! I love that you can give her more information about herself as she grows older. That will be something so special to her! So much to celebrate!

  • Alisa Zimmerman April 29, 2018 at 9:32 am

    Well I’m going to order my DNA test, now! My small group is currently reading Beyond Colorblind by Sarah Shin which I highly recommend. The book talks about how God created beautifully different ethnicities and wants to heal the brokenness related to those ethnicities. It has made me want to learn more about my heritage beyond being white American.

  • Tricia April 29, 2018 at 11:18 pm

    You must go to Laos! Luang Prabang is one of my favorite places. You will love it!

  • Kate April 30, 2018 at 10:11 am

    I mean, she’s the cutest darn Laotian I’ve EVER seen. So sweet to do this for her. She seems like sheer joy personified. All the best to you all!

  • Janie April 30, 2018 at 10:11 am

    Madeley is just the cutest thing ever ! The blessing is that she has a family that loves her ! Nothing else matters. You are the best Mama ever Shay !!

  • Sarah T May 1, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    I just did this for my daughter, adopted from Vietnam. We joke that she’s our little shape-shifter, because she seems to change ethnicities everywhere we go! When we go eat Vietnamese, she looks Asian, when we go to New Mexico, she looks Native American, when we go eat Mexican, she looks Hispanic…to me, she’s just MY BABY GIRL. Anyway, we just found out she’s 53% Chinese and only 44% Vietnamese. So interesting! Also, we’ve connected with a few of her distant (DISTANT, like 4th-7th) cousins on 23andme. I’m optimistic that one day, we’ll find even closer relatives for her. God bless your sweet family.

  • Kacy Mah May 2, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    One of my closest friends is Laotian!

  • Natalie C May 14, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    I am so behind on reading all of your posts since I’m a college student, but I have finally found the time to catch up on them. I have never commented before but I just felt the need to comment on this one… WOW it is amazing that Madeley is both Laotian and Chinese because that’s exactly what I am too! I’m so excited for you to learn more about the culture! You will love all of the food and the history from Laos. Thank you so much for sharing this, it makes me so happy that Madeley has an answer and even happier that she shares the same genes as me! She is the cutest little Chinese-Laotian girl. 😊