Madeley’s Gotcha Day {2nd Anniversary}

Two years ago today, we waited in a hotel room in Jinan, China for them to knock on the door and hand us our baby girl.

We were so nervous, so excited, had so much anticipation, wanted so badly for the clock to move faster, we were tired (we had just arrived the night before), we were hyper, we were ready to finally meet the little girl from the pictures.  Then they knocked, and our lives were changed forever…

Two years ago today, we became a family with Madeley James Shull.

Friends, what would life be right now without her?!

Each one of my kiddos is so different and so special.  I have one who is so passionate, so loyal, so kind and such a creative little soul.  I have another who is witty beyond his years, funny, smart and full of imagination and energy.  Then there is this one kiddo who is just sweet to her core.  She is so loving and kind that you often forget she is TOUGH AS NAILS.  She is a fighter and not a complainer.  And then there is this one…

…she is the life of our party.

The ham.

The perpetual fountain of fun and entertainment.

She is the one who says “I love you so much” the most to all of us.  Without prompting, all the time…she says, “I love you so much, Smithy” or whomever…she is so full of love.

This once shy, reserved, and unsure girl is now, the funniest one in the family. She knows she’s funny too which only makes her funnier.

This kid is spunky and lively and has MADE our lives in ways we didn’t know we needed to be made.

Two years ago, we met this little girl and some would say we changed her life, but friends, SHE changed our lives.

Miss Madeley is our kisser and hugger.  She wants to cuddle with all of us, she wants to sit by all of us, she wants us all to tuck her in, to sing her songs and tell her stories…she knows she’s the center of attention and she loves it (and we love it too!).

Friends, I could have missed out on all of this.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…you could have talked me out of either of these adoptions.  I didn’t go into to them with all of this confidence and assurance.  I didn’t think “Gee, this will be easy!  I’ve got this!”.  No.  I was scared to death.  I was worried and nervous and fearful that adopting would change the wonderful balance we had at home.  If you’re waiting to feel like you’re 100% ready to adopt, then you’ll never adopt.  I have never met anyone who didn’t go into it with fear and doubts.  You can’t wait until you’re ready, you need to go when God calls you.  He’ll get you ready in His own time.

Are you being prompted to adopt?  Is this global orphan crisis someone else’s problem or is it everyone’s?  Are you waiting for everyone else to adopt because it’s scary for you to think about stepping out and doing it too?  I fully believe that if it’s on your heart at all, it’s on there for a reason…it’s on there because God is calling you to adopt too.

Sweet Madeley.  She is precious and beautiful and funny and smart and so full of life and she wasn’t alone in that orphanage in China.

There are millions of precious kids in the US and abroad who need homes.  Who need families.  Who have so much love to give if someone would simply give them a home.

I cannot believe it’s been two years.  I try to remember what it was like pre-Madeley and it’s hard for me.  Sometimes, even now that she’s almost four, I still wrap her in a blanket and hold her.  I’ll tell her to pretend like she’s a baby and she makes snoring noises and acts all “baby-ish”.  We laugh about it as we do it, but I’m always thinking about what it was like when she really was a baby.  Madeley was found when she was two months out which means…her mama kept her for two months.  She fed her, she held her, she loved on her and for some unexplainable, and I can only imagine, horrible reason, she was forced to give her up.  That poor mama.  I’m sure there isn’t a day that goes by that she doesn’t wonder what happened to her baby girl.

I pray for my girls’ mamas daily and it’s always that God can give them some sort of sign or some sort of unexplainable peace that their girls are okay.  I just want them to have a peace in their hearts that their daughters are alright.  Can you imagine not knowing?  I want them to know in their core that their girls are safe, healthy and loved.

Two years ago today, we adopted this sweet girl.  Wouldn’t it be terrible if your kiddo was out there waiting for you to come adopt them?  My prayer every day, but especially on days like this, is that if adoption is on your heart, that you will MOVE.  It’s scary, it’s uncertain, it’s filled with unknowns…but friends, it is the BEST THING I’VE EVER DONE.  Don’t make them wait any longer.

Happy Gotcha Day, Madeley James!  It was two years ago today that you got our hearts.  You got ’em and you’ve held tight to them ever since.  We love you so much!  You are our sweet girl and we cannot imagine life without you. xo

If you really want to get to know our adoption stories (or take a peek back in time), you can see some other post adoption posts right here…

Madeley’s Post Adoption: Month 21

Madeley Post Adoption: Month 18

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’s Post Adoption: 3.5 Years

Ashby Gotcha Day {Third Anniversary}

Ashby Post Adoption: 2.5 Years

Ashby’s Gotcha Day {Second Anniversary}

Post Adoption: Month 21

Post Adoption: Month 18

Post Adoption: Month 15

Ashby’s Gotcha Day {First Anniversary}

Post Adoption: Month 11

Post Adoption: Month 10

Post Adoption: Month 9

Post Adoption: Month 8

Post Adoption: Month 7

Post Adoption: Month 6

Post Adoption: Month 5

Post Adoption: Month 4

Post Adoption: Month 3

Post Adoption: Month 2

Post Adoption: Month 1

Meeting Ashby for the first time: HERE

All of our China travel posts: HERE



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  • Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog September 11, 2018 at 4:46 am

    Happy Gotcha Day to Madeley! The cutey, look how well she’s settled into the family! 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • Erika Slaughter September 11, 2018 at 4:54 am

    Ahhhhh!!! Crying all the happy tears this morning! I mean THE perfect word to describe Madeley HAS to be HAM! It’s so very fitting! Happy 2nd Gotcha Day, Madeley Shull! We love you! XO

  • Beth Knecht September 11, 2018 at 5:22 am

    What an awesome miracle that you got Madeley and she got all of you! Have the best day!

  • Susan McKain September 11, 2018 at 5:45 am

    What a beautiful post, Shay. I am another mama who was a bit anxious and scared beforehand, but adoption turned out to be the very best thing my husband and I ever could have done. So any of you thinking about it out there – I wholeheartedly agree with Shay! Happy Second Gotcha Day, Madeley, Shay, Andrew, Ashby, Smith, & Kensington.💗

  • Kimberly C September 11, 2018 at 6:01 am

    Happy Gotcha Day, Madeley! 💖

  • Narci September 11, 2018 at 6:09 am

    Oh my goodness! She could not be any more precious if she tried! We love you, Madeley! This post had me tearing up! So Sweet!

  • Dana September 11, 2018 at 6:19 am

    I can’t believe it’s only been 2 years! I’ve been following along the whole time, but it just seems like she’s been part of your family forever!

  • Brooke Richardson September 11, 2018 at 6:21 am

    And I’m crying….Madeley you are so LOVED!!

  • Sheaffer Sims September 11, 2018 at 6:22 am

    Happy Gotcha Day, Madeley! WE LOVE YOU SO MUCH! I am soooooooo grateful y’all listened to the call and that Madeley is now a part of my life too!

  • Valerie September 11, 2018 at 6:33 am

    Madeley is absolutely abdorable! We all need to have the joyful spirit she has. What a precious little girl!

  • Alicia Fedell September 11, 2018 at 6:40 am

    Happy Gotcha Day! YES to all of the above! YES to acting even in fear! YES to move forward, to give a family to those without! YES to the prayers and thoughts for those sweet brave Birth Mommas. Thank you for being an adoption advocate. My prayer is that many hearts are touched and answer the call. Thank you!

  • Amy Heinl September 11, 2018 at 6:50 am

    Happy Gotcha Day sweet Madley

  • Elspeth Mizner September 11, 2018 at 6:52 am

    So beautiful! Happy gotcha day! I remember reading the first post about her! Two years have flown by!

  • Ashley September 11, 2018 at 6:52 am

    What a wonderful post! We are going to meet our match tomorrow, a 3 year old, and take him home if our meetings are successful. I have been reading your blog for a while and have been researching adoption for a time but nothing prepared me for all the emotions! Your statement in this post really spoke to me today: “I didn’t go into to them with all of this confidence and assurance. I didn’t think “Gee, this will be easy! I’ve got this!”. No. I was scared to death. I was worried and nervous and fearful that adopting would change the wonderful balance we had at home.“
    Thank you for putting your journey out there for others to see.

  • Gardner Story September 11, 2018 at 6:59 am

    She is so sweet and adorable. Do you think 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, 4th children stereotypes ring true for your family/friends? My daughter (first and only child) is SUCH a ham and tough little thing which I love! She doesn’t seem to fit the mold of being the cautious first born ha.

    • Mix and Match Mama September 11, 2018 at 7:13 am

      I really think Smith has more of a “first child” personality based on those books that classify order like that 🙂 .

  • Melissa September 11, 2018 at 7:04 am

    You get me every. single. time. with these posts. We are only months away from starting our process (praying and working towards 1/2019) and I am thankful for every word of encouragement because it helps squelch our fears and concerns. Thank you xo

  • Rebecca Jo September 11, 2018 at 7:11 am

    I just love how your kids each have their own unique personality – & how they all complete the family in a special way.
    Happy Gotcha Day to your beautiful & precious spirit daughter!!!!!

  • Rachel September 11, 2018 at 7:19 am

    Happy Gotcha Day sweet Madeley! I’m so glad we answered the call to adopt – one of the BEST things we’ve ever done- twice :)! Hope you all have a fun day remembering the day you got her and celebrating her life!

  • Andee Hart September 11, 2018 at 7:20 am

    I have loved following your adoption journeys. Thank you for posting updates and encouraging adoption! It has become a passion of mine, partly through reading your blog.

    As a single woman, I don’t feel called to adopt myself. (I realize a lot of singles do, and that is great!) In Russell Moore’s book “Adopted for Life”, he speaks of how we (the church) are all called to help the orphan, even if we are not able to adopt ourselves. There are many in my community that are adopting and I have learned that there are many ways I can serve and support these families and still live out James 1:27. Through the encouragement of several adopting friends, I started HartDesignCo ( and all profit goes to adopting families to help with related-expenses. (As you know, adoption is expensive!)

    I share this not to shine a light on myself, but to share that there are many ways we can support and champion adoption. Thank you for encouraging me and so many others! Blessings!

  • Connie September 11, 2018 at 7:26 am

    Awww, so precious! Happy Gotcha Day Madeley! She is so adorable! You are so wonderful for adopting these girls! You have a beautiful family Shay! Thanks for sharing your life with all of us. ❤️

  • Karah Stracener September 11, 2018 at 7:42 am

    Happy Gotcha Day sweet Madeley! This post made me tear up. She is precious and I am so glad she got her forever family. You definitely make me think about adoption every time you post about your girls. Thank you for sharing them with us.

  • Ali September 11, 2018 at 7:43 am

    I am curious about your adoption influence. Do you know how many people have adopted because you have shared your family? You may have shared previously, but I love your sphere of influence. You use your stage well, do amazing work and I love reading your posts. I think your family is stinking precious!!

  • Jo September 11, 2018 at 7:47 am

    It’s also important to note that the Office of Children’s Issues (OCI), as part of the State Dept, has thrown HUGE roadblocks in the way of families wishing to adopt internationally. My cousin and her husband were among those affected as they were stuck in Japan with their baby daughter for 3 months this past summer, doubling their projected adoption costs. They could return, but the State Dept refused to issue a visa to the baby in order for her to return with them. Their scenario is now the norm, rather than the exception.

    The Adoption Council notes a 79% decline in international adoption since 2004. (Source: Intercountry adoption is currently at a standstill and is projected to end completely in the next several years. (Source: Quite frankly, with new policy changes wby the OCI, our country has made international adoption next to impossible anymore.

    During my cousin’s experience, my family has become involved with the international adoption community, lobbying against the ethnocentric, anti-family stance of the OCI. The future of international adoption is not very bright or cheery. Any policies that separate children from families are policies we should work to change.

  • Reanna Yenger September 11, 2018 at 8:00 am

    Such beautiful words on adoption! I’m counting down the days until we go to China to get our son (55 days as of today 😊).

  • Ramona September 11, 2018 at 8:01 am

    Happy Gotcha Day, Madeley! And happy celebration day for all the family! Thank you for sharing your journey!

  • Jenna September 11, 2018 at 8:06 am

    Happy Gotcha Day to Madely!

  • Carly September 11, 2018 at 8:17 am

    I’m grateful for all your posts Shay but I got into your blog the night before you left to get Madeley. This blog has made me hear the call to find my own child. Madeley brings such light into my life I can only imagine what she does for you and your people. Happy Gotcha Day Madeley! Enjoy your special day!

  • Kathy L September 11, 2018 at 8:26 am

    What a beautiful and moving post about sweet Madeley James! I love your all’s adoption journey for both Ashby and Madeley. Adoption is near and dear to my heart because our 2nd daughter, Kara Anne, was adopted at birth.

  • haley s @ cupcakes and sunshine September 11, 2018 at 8:35 am

    Goodness, what a CUTIE!! Happy Gotcha day, Madeley!

  • Sara September 11, 2018 at 8:36 am

    I cannot believe it’s only been two years, it feels like she has just ALWAYS been in your family! Isn’t that crazy?? I have been following and reading your blog since probably a year or so pre-Ashby and I honestly put both Ashby and Madely in your family from the beginning in my memories!! Thank you for speaking up and out about adoption, and for sharing your family with us!

  • Elizabeth September 11, 2018 at 8:47 am

    Yes, yes, yes! Saying “yes” can be the hardest part, but then you get to sit back and watch God move mountains and do What’s she does best to bring it all together! He doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called! We’ve had our son home just four months and can’t imagine if we’d not taken the leap of faith and missed out on him! #wecouldhavemissedthis

  • Andrea September 11, 2018 at 9:04 am

    She is so adorable! I am still dying over her saying “bye suckers” on your Instastory! 😂😂😂

  • Jennifer Sawyer September 11, 2018 at 9:15 am

    It takes alot for me to tear up, but thinking about these babies before they were yours and their birth mama’s breaks my heart <3 My niece & nephew are adopted from Korea and at 24 & 30 I bet a day doesn't go by that a mama is Korea is saying "I wonder?"…..adoption is beautiful God Bless

  • Audrey Bolton September 11, 2018 at 9:19 am

    My son was born in January. His birth mama walked in to the hospital at 6 AM, he was born at 6:24 AM, and she checked herself out of the hospital at 10:30 am. I can’t fathom walking out of a hospital 4 hours after giving birth, much less walking out without my baby. However, she had 4 beautiful children waiting on her in a hotel room and she did what she thought was best. I pray EVERY SINGLE DAY that God will give her a peace that Camden has found parents that will love him for the rest of his life. She is my hero and she doesn’t even know it. Adoption is truly amazing and life changing and I can’t imagine what our lives would be like if we hadn’t acted when we did.

  • Janie Reinert September 11, 2018 at 9:20 am

    Happy Gotcha Day to your beautiful funny girl ! Enjoy reading your post about your ADORABLE family !!

  • Amanda @ That Inspired Chick September 11, 2018 at 10:11 am

    Love that funny girl!!! She lights up a room, that’s for sure!! Happy Gotcha Day, Miss Madeley!
    That Inspired Chick

  • daniellem02 September 11, 2018 at 10:21 am

    Beautiful post, Shay. Everything rung so true–especially the part about fear. My husband is fearful that we will upset the balance of our family (we have 3 bio kids) if we adopt, that he won’t attach to the child, that the child won’t attach to us, etc. I have had adoption on my heart FOREVER, and truly feel that there is a reason for that. But of course we can’t move forward until we are both on board. Prayers appreciated.

  • Jillian September 11, 2018 at 10:50 am

    Happy Gotcha Day to that sweet girl! I love these types of posts. I am still cracking up at her “bye suckers” on your insta-stories! hahaha

  • Ashlea September 11, 2018 at 11:09 am

    “ I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…you could have talked me out of either of these adoptions. I didn’t go into to them with all of this confidence and assurance. I didn’t think “Gee, this will be easy! I’ve got this!”. No. I was scared to death. I was worried and nervous and fearful that adopting would change the wonderful balance we had at home. If you’re waiting to feel like you’re 100% ready to adopt, then you’ll never adopt. I have never met anyone who didn’t go into it with fear and doubts. You can’t wait until you’re ready, you need to go when God calls you. He’ll get you ready in His own time.”

    🙌🏻You’re speaking directly to my soul this morning! I’ve been nervously dragging my feet on our homestudy. If I wait until I’m “ready”, it will never happen. Thank you for allowing God to speak through you.

    • Mix and Match Mama September 11, 2018 at 1:15 pm

      Ashlea, I’m stopping to pray for you right now!

  • Lindsay @ Lindsay's Sweet World September 11, 2018 at 11:40 am

    Happy Gotcha Day, Madeley! You are so loved!

  • Megan September 11, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    My sister adopted from China and brought her baby girl home on September 11, 2002 (who is no longer a baby but instead choosing where to go to college in a year!). I’ve always loved having such a beautiful reminder of life and hope on such a solemn day in our history. There is something truly symbolic and wonderful about it. Happy Gotcha Day to Madeley and your entire beautiful family!! What a wonderful thing to be able to celebrate!

  • Carol September 11, 2018 at 2:04 pm

    Beautiful. ..just beautiful!

  • Angela Ellingson September 11, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    Oh sweet Madeley James! What a precious girl!! Thanks for sharing her with us.

  • Chelsey Cherrington September 11, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    Oh my gosh, I tear up every time I read one of your adoption posts but now that I have all of these pregnancy hormones, holy moly the crying! You have such a beautiful family and I honestly cannot believe it’s only been two years. I have been a long time reader and it just seems like Madeley and Ashby have been a part of your family forever. Happy Gotcha Day!

  • Erin Port September 11, 2018 at 3:18 pm

    Every single time with every single one of your adoption posts I cry because I knew we were meant to adopt and now we wait LID for our match. “I didn’t go into them with all of this confidence and assurance. I didn’t think “Gee, this will be easy! I’ve got this!”. No. I was scared to death. I was worried and nervous and fearful that adopting would change the wonderful balance we had at home. ” <—That is exactly how I feel, you took the words right out of my mouth but I know God is bigger than my fears so we wait expectnantly for baby #4 to be revealed to us <3

  • Alexis deZayas September 11, 2018 at 4:48 pm

    Happy Gotcha Day Madeley! That sweet girl was truly made for your family. xoxo

  • Margaret September 11, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    Of all the stories you tell us, the gotcha stories are my favorite. Those brave, brave mommas. I too, hope they somehow know that their girls are loved and safe.

  • lilielilieco September 11, 2018 at 6:59 pm

    Love this so much! <3

  • Michelle Zapalski September 11, 2018 at 11:24 pm

    What a special day! Where do you get your girls’ big bows and head wraps?

  • Susan Jeffries September 12, 2018 at 4:39 am

    I remember this sweet day(: So fun to watch her grow! She’s really such a precious girl. My daughter’s best pal was brought home from China 16 years ago. I can’t imagine our lives if we had not met her. Such a gift!

  • Kristen Wood September 12, 2018 at 8:41 am

    Looking through the pics, it was cool to see how her smiles have gotten bigger and bigger! Thanks for sharing your journey with us!

  • Leanne Gilchrist September 12, 2018 at 4:58 pm

    I love this. I’m always struck when I see the pics of both Madeley and Ashby, how much they’ve changed, and grown, and blossomed. Madeley is the biggest blossom. God plans things not just for the other person, but for us too, to change us, maybe even more than the other party. God bless your hearts, Shay, the hearts of your family and you. I was thinking the other day, what incredible stories Kensington and Smith will be able to tell, about how their family loved enough to open their hearts, and, maybe they’ll adopt, as well. I LOVE these stories of yours, Shay. Madeley always makes my day. <3

  • Francesca September 13, 2018 at 8:08 am

    Happy Gotcha Day, Madeley!! Shay, do you and Andrew think you will adopt again at some point?

    • Mix and Match Mama September 13, 2018 at 8:11 am

      I don’t know? We seem really content right now.

  • DetroitDuchess September 23, 2018 at 10:02 pm

    She is the cutest! I don’t know how anyone could ever be down with her around. She’s just a little ball of sunshine! I’m so glad God called you to be her momma and share her/your journey with us.