How We: Talk Adoption

It’s How We…Wednesday!  Once a month, Erika and I host a link up where we talk about how we (fill in the blank).  We’ll share and then we’re hoping you’ll link up and share too…because I LOVE learning new things from you ladies!  So far this year, we’ve discussed…

JANUARY: Our New Year’s Resolutions.
FEBRUARY: How we take care of ourselves
MARCH: How we mom fail and live to talk about it
APRIL: How we spring clean/organize
MAY: How we transition our wardrobe
JUNE: How we plan our summer vacations
JULY: How we motivate our kids
AUGUST: How we pack lunches
SEPTEMBER: How we FALL!
OCTOBER: How we meal plan!

And today, we’re talking about HOW WE…TALK TO KIDS ABOUT ADOPTION!

Erika and I picked adoption for November because it’s National Adoption Awareness Month!

On Sunday at church, we honored this month with Orphan Sunday.  Guys, I cried.  I know that everyone isn’t called to actually adopt a child, but friends, WE CAN ALL HELP KIDS THAT DON’T HAVE FAMILIES.  I really hope that you’re prayerfully considering adoption, but even if it’s off the table for you, there are so many things you can do.  There are so many wonderful charities and organizations helping kids across the globe who are orphaned and need care.  One of my favorites is Morning Star Foundation.  I just really encourage you to think about how you can personally do something for the over 140,000,000 orphans in the world.

Now, I’m not saying we know the right/wrong things to say about adoption over at our house.  I think only time will tell as they get older, but this post is going to share what we do.  Now, if you have kiddos that are adopted and are now adults or are an adult who was adopted, I would LOVE to hear what you have to say about this.  I’ve said this before, but the Lord really blessed me with several really close relationships as a teen/young adult with people who were adopted, and I think my friendships with them and their parents really spoke volumes into my life.  I think there are two ways of looking at this topic starting with…

HOW DID WE PREPARE OUR BIO KIDS FOR ADOPTION?

Can we take a moment to look at that sweet picture of Kensington and Smith?!  This was Christmas 2014.  We left for China to adopt Ashby just a few days after Christmas, so this holiday was so bittersweet.  We were excited about leaving to get her and (finally!!!) bring her home, but we were sad that she wasn’t with us that year at Christmas.

Anyway…for us, talking to Kensington and Smith was easier than for some people because they never knew life before adoption was a part of our family.  I knew I wanted to adopt when they were just 2 and 10 months old (it took Andrew a little longer to feel the call), so the conversation was out there all the time for them to hear and be a part of.  Once Andrew and I both knew we needed to expand our family via adoption, we were always talking to our kids about how we were going to go get a new baby and bring her home because she didn’t have a family and we wanted her to be a part of our family.  That, of course, prompted questions about why she didn’t have a family, and honestly, we would say we didn’t know.  We would say we didn’t know why she didn’t have a family in China, but we were so happy that God was letting us be her forever family.  This worked for us.  They were little, they were excited, they knew she didn’t have a family and that they were going to get to be her family which made them really happy.

We also engaged the kiddos with so much of the adoption process.  We told them when we were mailing off important papers, when we were going to get our fingerprints filed, when we were picking out her new clothes/bedding/blankets/etc.  We talked a lot about going to China together to get her (taking them to China was HUGE for us!), and anytime we had a celebration or holiday, we would incorporate Ashby into the conversation.  Right before we got her, we let the kids each pick out a toy for her…we really just tried to always engage them in the process.  Now, adoption is just a part of normal life for my kids.  When they talk about growing up and having families of their own, they always mention how many kids will be bio and how many adopted (all three big kids do this) without any prompting from us…it’s just what their family culture is like, so it’s completely natural for them (things could change as they get older, but for now, that’s how they are).

I feel like I need to qualify this next statement by reminding you that my two big kids can be total messes…but friends, I must give both Kensington and Smith (AND GOD!) credit because they have embraced adoption one hundred percent.  Never, not one single time, have they even made the slightest negative remark about how adoption has affected their lives.  I take zero credit for that.  The Lord has really worked on their little hearts.

I feel like the next part of this is HOW DO WE TALK TO OUR ADOPTED KIDDOS ABOUT ADOPTION?

My friends who are adopted have always told me to just make it a part of every day/normal conversation, so that’s what we’re doing.

I was worried that adoption wouldn’t come up a lot, but you know what?  We organically fit it into every day life quite a bit.  I think the number one thing I try and do is not make their birth parents sound like they did anything wrong.  We have no idea why they were given up.  None.  Zero.  I have no clue why they weren’t able to keep their girls, but I just bet you it was the hardest decision they’ve ever made.  I do not take that lightly.  I fully want my girls to know that their parents were heroes because they carried them to term, had them and left them places they knew they would be found.  I also want my girls to know that we pray for their birth families and are hopeful that one day, we can be united in Heaven.  Isn’t that a cool thought?  Any time I bring up their mamas, I say that I bet they are beautiful inside and out because my girls are beautiful inside and out too.  I really believe in my heart that these sweet ladies (and daddies too!) loved their daughters so very much.

There is probably a fine line between talking too much about adoption (and making them feel different/set apart/not a Shull) and not talking enough about it.  I just pray that I’m doing just the right amount.  Since they were little, we have shown them the videos of us going to China to get them.  We always talk about how our family didn’t feel complete and God told us that our daughter was waiting for us in China, so we went to get her.  We talk about how when they were born, God knew we were going to be a family.  We just try and make them feel super loved by both us and their birth families.  The topic really does present itself organically, and we just go from there.  Madeley is left handed (Ashby is too…but not by choice), and the other day, Ashby commented on Madeley writing with her left hand and I said “I bet her mommy in China is left handed too”…that started a nice little conversation about their China mommies.

Anyway…I’ll have Ashby and Madeley write a blog post in 2048 and let you know if we did a good job or royally screwed them up.  I truly hope it’s the first one.

I am SO THANKFUL that so many of our friends have adopted too!  This pic was from Madeley’s birthday party last month where FOUR out of the seven little girls were adopted.  MORE THAN HALF!  Isn’t that CRAZY!  And out of the remaining three girls, two of them have adopted sisters. WHOA?!  Friends, this was not designed by us, God did it.  He has really brought us to a place where adoption is a big part of the community which makes our girls feel more at home.

So, now I need your comments if you’re adopted or your adult child is.  We honor and recognize their birth mamas, talk about how much our family needed them, talk about China, talk about how much they’re loved and talk about God’s divinity in the whole situation…but I’m sure we need to be doing other things as well.

To see some of my favorite posts on adoption, click below:
My very first post about adoption
Meeting Ashby for the first time
Meeting Madeley for the first time

And, if you’re in the process of adopting, are adopted or have adopted kiddos, please join my adoption Facebook group!!  It is such an encouraging and inspiring little community.  You will love it!

Next month, our last HOW WE…WEDNESDAY is HOW WE DO ALL THINGS CHRISTMAS.  That already excites me!

One last thing before I sign off.  Today, Ashby is having her 15th procedure.  It’s her 16th surgery and 19th time to be put under general anesthesia in less than four years and you know what?  It doesn’t get easier.  Please be praying for our brave girl as she handles this today and the rest of the week.  God bless all of you.  I know you’re praying for our family, and I sincerely love you for it. xo


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  • Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog November 14, 2018 at 4:44 am

    Happy National Adoption Awareness Month! I find it so admirable how you’ve brought your family together. You’re a real role model to look up to, Shay. 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  • Jordan November 14, 2018 at 4:49 am

    We adopted our daughter a few years ago and I agree with you that we make the topic part of the conversation around here. She has a life book and loves to ask questions. For the day we met her a lot of people use the term “gotcha day” . we always used the term “family day” and recently I saw a poll about older adoptees and they did not like the term “gotcha day”. The numbers were huge on how they disliked that term. I thought it was interesting and it has been a topic with my adoptive mamma friends so now we for sure never use the term “gotcha”. Adoption is wonderful and we look forward to growing our family some more through adoption.

  • Erika Slaughter November 14, 2018 at 5:07 am

    You know me-im not super emotional but adoption can have me crying I’m minutes!! I’m hoping to read lots of comment with all the info on this! Keeping my fingers crossed I’m not royally screwing anyone up. 😉

    • Lindsey November 14, 2018 at 6:04 am

      I cry every single time y’all post about adoption! Esp when you speak of the birth mothers. My best friend has an adopted daughter from China with special needs and our older daughters (9) have grown up just like that’s one hundred percent normal and common. I love that so much. GOD BLESS you and all the families making that a reality. I tell people all the time God is still in the miracle business! You just have to look for them! All these beautiful children are perfect examples.

  • Sheaffer November 14, 2018 at 5:23 am

    What a well written post. I’m so proud of you and Andrew for following this call and for doing it with so much love. All 4 of your kids are amazing.

  • Kelly November 14, 2018 at 5:26 am

    This post is beautiful and makes me think of your friend who was possibly going to lose the baby they had adopted. I pray that all worked out in the very best way possible. 💕

    • Mix and Match Mama November 14, 2018 at 5:30 am

      The birth mom made the decision to allow my friend and her husband to raise the baby.

      • Whitney November 14, 2018 at 7:05 am

        This makes me so happy to hear! Was hoping you guys would give an update since announcing it. Prayers work and God is good💗

  • Elspeth Mizner November 14, 2018 at 5:27 am

    Keeping you and Ashby in my continued thoughts and prayers today!

  • Kristin November 14, 2018 at 5:39 am

    My almost 4 year old is adopted, not internationally,
    But through CPS. I would also encourage your readers to consider this avenue as well. Can it be hard, yes! I am one of the fortunate that has had a positive CPS experience so don’t let the negative ones discourage you if it’s truly on your heart. Pray, pray, and pray some more.

  • Prudence Blond November 14, 2018 at 5:40 am

    I cried reading this post. Seeing both Ashby and Madeley from the first time your family met them to now is amazing. They are so happy and loved by their forever family. I think Kensington and Smith are such wondeful kids for the way they have just opened their hearts to their sisters. I haven’t adopted but, in my opinion, you and Andrew have handled this perfectly. I would encourage anyone to follow the adoption process just like the Shull family.

    I am sending prayers for sweet Ashby. I hope today goes well for her and your family. She’s one tough little girl.

  • Beth Knecht November 14, 2018 at 5:40 am

    You really have put adoption on my heart! I just can’t not think about it! Praying little Ashby has a good day with good results!

  • Narci November 14, 2018 at 5:53 am

    This is just beautiful. Love you guys!

  • Lesley McFarland November 14, 2018 at 6:07 am

    I absolutely love love LOVE reading these post!! Adoption is such an amazing thing. I am personally not called for it….but I tear up every time I read someone’s story. What an Amazing god….these 2 girls and your family!!! I’m just so happy for y’all.

  • Linda Z November 14, 2018 at 6:10 am

    Praying for peace for Ashby today~

  • Becky November 14, 2018 at 6:20 am

    We have two adult adopted children. Both come from very different backgrounds via the foster care system. We too made adoption a normal part of our everyday conversation. We have always been very honest about their backgrounds, although never negative. Both children’s families knew where they were and when our daughter was probably 14, her bio mom was in town and we permitted contact. Our son has fetal alcohol syndrome and the day came that we did have to explain to him the dangers of him getting involved with alcohol due to his mother’s exposing him in the womb. He was a most difficult baby as he went through withdrawal. When he was in his late teen’s, his mom was placed on life support and his 1/2 sibling asked if he wanted to see her before she was removed. He opted not to. When she passed, I encouraged him to go to the funeral home. I went with him and we went, with permission from the funeral home, at a private time. His two 1/2 siblings were there and they were reunited after 14-15 years. He still has contact with one, but has opted not to have contact with the other due to lifestyle choices. Our daughter did have some times of contact with birth mom, but then opted to end that relationship. She has been the more difficult of the two – continuing to make poor life choices that are currently impacting her children. We have been working on our relationship with her, realizing that there are times we need to pull back due to our own sanity and to protect our family dynamics from some of her chaos. We also adopted our daughter’s half brother, but that needed to be disrupted because of safety concerns. At my last job, I provided supervision between birth parents and their children in foster care. Last month I was invited to an adoption for one precious little girls whose parental rights were terminated. There is also loss involved. I often think about my kid’s birth mom’s and what they have missed. They began my children’s stories and have missed many chapters.

  • Amanda @ Cupcake N Dreams November 14, 2018 at 6:44 am

    You have always shed such a bright light on adoption for me Shay! I’ve grown up with an adopted cousin and it’s made me believe in the power of families no matter your birth. I couldn’t imagine life without her. Praying for all those children who need homes and families!

    Amanda @ Cupcake N Dreams

  • Julie November 14, 2018 at 6:51 am

    My daughter is 16 and we adopted her from China when she was 13 months. You’re doing everything right and the most important thing for the girls to know is that you love them. I will say that it’s “easier” when they’re little to talk about adoption. One idea that you might consider is going to all of your children’s classrooms and teaching the students about adoption in a very generic way without singling out the girls. Perhaps reading an adoption picture book to the class and discussing it. Also, get your daughters’ permission before you share anything with others. Little kids are generally curious and will ask good questions because they truly want to know. I found educating them on the correct information at a young age is priceless and really goes a long way towards acceptance of differences. My daughter recently asked to see her adoption paperwork and we were happy to share. She didn’t ask any questions about it. She just wanted to read it and process the information. We continue to be open with her and positive always about her birth parents. We love them unconditionally because they gave us a wonderful gift! They are no right or wrong ways to do this. You’re doing what your heart and God tells you and you can’t go wrong with that. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

  • Ramona November 14, 2018 at 6:51 am

    Prayers for Ashby and for y’all, too!

  • Jodi November 14, 2018 at 7:06 am

    I was an adoption social worker for many years doing home studies, matching, education, etc. I think you are doing a great job sharing about it organically in everyday conversation! I love following your adoption journies.

  • Amy Heinl November 14, 2018 at 7:13 am

    What a beautiful moving tribute to your wonderful 4 kiddos. They are exactly where God intended them to be. I also will be lifting your warrior princess Ashby in prayer. I pray that today’s procedure goes well and that her recovery is quick. May you both fee the love as we life 6ou up in prayer

  • Rachel November 14, 2018 at 7:27 am

    Love this post and your heart for adoption! I’ll be praying for Ashby today!

  • Kaila November 14, 2018 at 7:32 am

    I was adopted from Yunnan, China and graduated college this past May. I moved to Shanghai a few months ago to teach English. My family did a wonderful job talking about adoption! When I was 10 we went on a homeland tour with other adopted families going to China and went back to my orphanage. At age 14 I went back to Beijing for 3 weeks with other adopted girls and just traveled China with a program.

    There is a great camp in Colorado that I attended and have been a counselor for called Chinese Heritage Camps for adoptees and their families. I went age 3-18 with my family and then went back as a counselor! As your daughters get older, there is a great organization called Adopteens through CCAI that is resource for adopted teenagers and just a lot of fun stuff! They also do volunteer trips back to China for older adoptees wanting to give back 🙂

  • Lynda Freed November 14, 2018 at 7:41 am

    First time commenting on your blog, Shay, but I’m an adopted 53 year old and I think your family is handling this exactly right. I was adopted at two weeks old in a closed adoption so have no information about my birth parents. I will give all the credit to my mom and dad that adoption was always part of our conversation so I’ve never felt anything but grateful to my birth parents for giving me up. People ask all the time, don’t you want to know your real parents and my answer is, I know my real parents, they’re the ones who raised me. Love reading about your sweet family and lots of prayers for Ashby today.

  • Laura November 14, 2018 at 7:53 am

    Adoption has touched our family in some less than typical ways. My bio son was adopted by my husband (step-parent adoption). We have “adopted” a young man from another country who moved here to marry while we were working on visas to get him here through other methods – he’s brought us a daughter-in-law and grand baby in the last two years. Some extended family recently has started the adoption process for their 16 year old son’s best friend.. And finally, we are getting a new niece from China in the next month!
    What’s funny is for us, the conversation happens so much that the lines have always been blurred. My son (12) recently told my husband “Dad I’m glad I’m your favorite son”. My husband replied “I bet F (our older “adopted” son) would have something to say about that”. Son replied “ok I’m your favorite biological son”. After we stopped laughing, son said “fine I’m the favorite son that lives in this house full time, ok?”. When you make it normal and part of the everyday it just becomes a non-issue. I think you’re doing a great job!

  • Melissa Terry November 14, 2018 at 7:53 am

    I love everything about this post and really appreciate you giving all of us food for thought in addition to the wonderful and good aspects of adoption. My daddy was adopted so I’ve always had an interesting insight to his story and it for sure planted seeds in me/us to grow our family in that way. We are now (hopefully) only months from starting our own process and I am soaking up all the wisdom from mamas who have gone before us on this path. Thank you for your honesty and joy on this topic!

  • Melinda Br. November 14, 2018 at 8:01 am

    My daughter works for Lone Star Social Services in Dallas. Adoption days are the best days when foster children become part of their forever family…. smiles all around on those days. Prayers for your daughter today.

  • becca November 14, 2018 at 8:07 am

    I love how you advocate for adoption so well! Some friends of mine have written a devotional book for adoptive parents. All 14 of the writers are adoptive mothers. I know it will be a blessing to others in the adoption journey! You can preorder now, and it ships Dec 11. https://www.228publishers.com/grace-for-the-journey/

  • Yvonne C November 14, 2018 at 8:15 am

    Hi Shay, I was adopted as a baby (many years ago) and I always knew I was adopted. My mom was not able to have any of her own biological children. I think what you are doing (talking about adoption organically) is great. I always knew I was adopted and so was my brother. It was something we didn’t talk a lot about, but something we always knew. My mom used to tell us we were more loved than most kids. Our biological mothers loved us enough to give us up to be loved by my parents. Not to make this a long story, but about 6 months ago I did an ancestry DNA test and found my biological mom (completely by surprise). We actually met up in person and it was weird. I definitely went though a ton of different emotions by finding my biological mom. It was nice to hear her story and why she gave me up for adoption. Adoption is truly a wonderful thing! Have a great day!

  • kathy olson November 14, 2018 at 8:15 am

    Praying for Ashby.

  • Clare November 14, 2018 at 8:18 am

    What a beautiful family you have! I love the way Ashby and Madeley fit right into your family!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Liz Even November 14, 2018 at 8:23 am

    We LOVE adoption!! I have 2 sisters that have adopted and lots of friends. So lots of family and framily!! I think organic conversations are the best ones. Birth parents are heros! We praise the Lord for them. Don’t worry you’re not the only one asking if you are screwing up your children but growing them up in the Lord is the best way. Following Christ’s direction and obedience is the best. Praying for little Ashby today. She is strong!! I know it doesn’t get easier. Let me know if you need anything! ❤️

  • Michelle K November 14, 2018 at 8:24 am

    My daughter joined our family via domestic infant adoption when she was born 17 months ago. It was one of the scariest things we’ve done, stepping out in faith and making that huge financial and emotional commitment without any guarantees but God went before us every step of the way. Our bio sons (ages 14, 12, & 8) dote on her and she adores them just as much. We have an open adoption and talk, text, FaceTime, pretty regularly and have even welcomed our daughter’s birthmom into our home twice now when she was visiting someone in our home state. It’s not how I ever pictured our adoption would look but it’s amazing that our daughter will never have to wonder if she was loved by her first mama too. Open adoption is not without its messiness but don’t be scared off by it — if it’s an option it can be such a gift to all involved. And it gives you a chance to let your light shine.

  • Autumn November 14, 2018 at 8:42 am

    I am an adult who was adopted, so when I read this I was so happy to hear you’re being open and honest about it! I would say as they get older, consider transitioning it so that they know it’s open for conversation but you’re not actively reminding them every day that they’re adopted by continuing to work it into conversation, etc. Once adoption is just part of the culture/fabric of your lives (which it sounds like it is), I found as an adopted child that people continually bringing it up had the reverse effect — ‘if it’s so normal, why are we STILL talking about it?!’. As they get older, I think it’s important to let them decide how much they want to identify as being adopted and make that part of their public persona.

    Hopefully that makes sense! Just throwing it out there as an adopted adult now looking back. So grateful for all you do to raise awareness!

  • Amanda Wilsom November 14, 2018 at 9:08 am

    We have been waiting for so so so so long for our match from Haiti. I plan to take the same approach answer you Shay lots of conversations. The wait has been so long my bio kids are getting older I definately am more worried about the transition of my teen and pre teen then my little kids. I am always praying for your sweet family Shay. Please say a little prayer for mine that the match is soon and the transition smooth.

  • Amber November 14, 2018 at 9:15 am

    How sweet this post is! I am praying for Ashby today that her procedure goes well and that she knows how strong she is. She is such a rolemodel and has the sweetest smile! She is so brave and has such a strong heart! I pray the Lord watches over her today during this operation!

  • Teresa Flahaut November 14, 2018 at 9:19 am

    We adopted our son through private adoption. He is 29 now and still the joy of our lives. We always talked about adoption and still do. At 18, he met his birth parents. Emotional and bittersweet. Not always a good idea but I’m thankful he has some answers. It was important we always told him what we knew. Simple answers first, details later. He always says ‘we’ are his parents♡ Sweet memory-your grandparents were the first ones to see him at home showering us with hugs and gifts! Prayers as you share adoption memories with your girls!

  • Emily November 14, 2018 at 9:26 am

    This tugs at my heart because I was adopted too. I was born in Seoul, South Korea and came over to Michigan to be with my forever family at only 3 and half months old, I am 28 now. My Dad loved to videotape with his big camera so we have a home movie of my whole family picking me up at the airport in Detroit because back then you weren’t required to pick up the child. I don’t ever remember having a sit-down conversation where my parents told me I was adopted. It was something they incorporated into my everyday life. We talked about where I was from and how my bio parents were just too young and weren’t ready to be parents. I grew up going to Korean Heritage days in my hometown. I have a love for Korean food, so we try and go out for it as much as possible. Every Christmas Eve since I arrived my family celebrates with a Korean dinner. I think that for me, my experience was so positive because my parents didn’t hide anything from me. I grew up proud to be Korean as well as American. One thing I do wish I would’ve done was learn the language! I am planning a huge trip back for the first time since I was adopted for my 30th birthday with my older siblings! I cannot wait!

  • Cassie November 14, 2018 at 9:28 am

    I was adopted from Korea and am now 31 years old. I came to the US when I was 3 months old on February 2nd and my mom called it “Coming Home Day.” I don’t mind “Gotcha Day” but it also seems like collecting property to me so I can see how other adoptees could dislike it. One thing I love that my parents did is keep Korean things out on display in our house. We had dolls, dishes, etc that I played with. I went to Korean culture camp when I was old enough which was a little freaky since I grew up in a predominantly white town.

    Don’t be afraid to talk about the fact that your girls don’t look like you, possibly won’t know their full family health history when they visit a doctor as an adult, or that people may not understand. The hardest thing was hearing people ask if I knew my real mom… because my mom IS my real mom. My mom always told me I was special because I had 3 moms.. my mom, my birth mother, and a foster mother.

    You are doing such a great job normalizing adoption and not making it “a thing.” It’s beautiful and selfless for all involved.. selfless that you love a child that isn’t biologically yours and that you did not carry for 9 months… and selfless that another woman loved her baby so much that she carried that baby, got to know her baby, went through the pain of labor and delivery, the pain of cultural shaming, the pain of letting go not knowing if she’ll ever see that baby again… all because you both loved so deeply you knew these babies deserved life and love. I love that you advocate and educate others on this!

  • Amanda @ That Inspired Chick November 14, 2018 at 9:33 am

    I can’t even begin to imagine y’all without Ashby and Madeley! Love all your beautiful kiddos! Big prayers for Ashby today!
    That Inspired Chick

  • Brianna November 14, 2018 at 9:41 am

    I’m adopted and my parents took a very similar approach to you and Andrew. It wasn’t a big thing, but it was organically woven into our everyday conversations. It just became a part of my story. I recently turned 24 (and my gotcha day is just a few weeks from today), and I feel very well adjusted, and while every child is different I hope that’s reassuring to you and Andrew that you’re doing great by all your kids!

  • Julie Bradford November 14, 2018 at 10:07 am

    prayers for sweet Ashby today….the doctors and all of you… she is such a brave girl!!!

  • Kelly Davis November 14, 2018 at 10:31 am

    Praying for your sweet girl with rears. Praising God that she is now in a place where she can receive this care, and asking Him to be the One holding her little hand through the whole procedure.

  • Kelly Davis November 14, 2018 at 10:32 am

    Oops!! With tears- not rears!!

  • Lisa November 14, 2018 at 10:37 am

    I was adopted as a baby from South Korea. I had kind of a unique situation because I have both an older and younger brother who were my parent’s biological children. I want to start by saying I loved my childhood, family, and siblings. I was never treated any differently by anyone in my family, extended or otherwise. One thing that was tough for me, is my parent’s never discussed my adoption. As I grew older and obviously realized we didn’t look anything alike, it was kind of understood. I wish my parents had talked more about it and I wish I felt some connection to my “Korean” roots, but I really don’t, because it was never discussed. I don’t know anything about my adoption, other than I was 3 months old when I was brought over. For me, I almost felt like adoption was a taboo topic. I am so happy to see it discussed more openly and I feel adopted children should know how very special they are. I think until I had children of my own, part of me always felt I didn’t belong anywhere. It’s hard to feel different and for those differences to be so visible. I think anything that can celebrate differences (of any kind) and turn them into positives is a great thing!

  • Heidi | Heidi Wanders the World November 14, 2018 at 11:10 am

    Prayers for sweet Ashby today!

  • Lindsay @ Lindsay's Sweet World November 14, 2018 at 11:41 am

    Thinking of your sweet Ashby today. I hope everything goes well. xo

  • Nancy November 14, 2018 at 11:42 am

    Thanks for sharing Shay! This really warmed my heart 🙂 Prayers for Ashby tomorrow!

  • Christine November 14, 2018 at 12:10 pm

    I just love this post! For the record, you are doing a SUPER job with your kiddos. (And you have been such a great influence on how we are raising our kiddos, who joined our family through adoption. :))

    By the way, these are a couple great blog posts written by older China adoptees. Highly recommend! 🙂

    https://www.nohandsbutours.com/2016/07/23/adoption-looking-sides-coin/
    https://www.nohandsbutours.com/2018/05/27/when-an-adoptee-becomes-a-parent-herself/

  • Alicia November 14, 2018 at 12:23 pm

    Praying for Ashby today! (And you… it is hard on the momma!) When did you start talking to your girls about their birth mom? We’ve been home with our daughter for 15 months and she is not very verbal yet. (She is 2 1/2) Did you wait until they had a better language grasp?! I am not sure when and how to start that conversation!!

    • Mix and Match Mama November 15, 2018 at 5:30 am

      No, I would say we started right away (in the most natural sense). We always just explained how fortunate we were to get to be their family, but we knew that their birth families loved them so much.

  • Amber November 14, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    Praying for sweet Ashby! She is so darling and you can tell from her pre-op activitites, that she is getting her mind together to be strong. What a precious and strong little fighter she is!

  • Jaclyn November 14, 2018 at 1:34 pm

    Hi Shay, prayers for sweet Ashby today and I hope she makes a speedy recovery!

  • Dawn November 14, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    I loved this post! I was adopted when I was three,(along with my 3,(birth) brothers), and was in foster care from around the age of 1 until 3. I feel that every adoption story and situation is different. My parents always made it a regular conversation,(my older brother was 5 when we were adopted, so he always knew.) and we always just knew. I think my only advise to anyone adopting is not to be shy about the fact that your child is adopted. I am a triplet,(so yes, my parents adopted 4 kids, 3 which were 3 years old and one 5 years old!) and people would always ask my mom if she knew she was having triplets and how she did it when we were babies. She never really knew how to answer that bc she didn’t know if she should tell people that we were adopted. Most of the time, she skirted around answering and it was awkward for us all. I wish she would have just said, “ We actually adopted them when they were 3!”and left it at that. I know she was nervous for more questions.
    Anyways, I love the way your family handles all of it and I don’t know it there is a perfect wa of handling it all, but what a wonderful example you are to everyone adopting!
    Prayers for Ashby and her doctors! What an amazing little girl she is. God’s strength is amazing.

  • Patti November 14, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    As someone who was adopted, who married an adoptee, and then who adopted a child , I think I can encourage anyone that adoption is such a wonderful way to humbly do for a precious child what our Lord has done for us. And what a blessing we receive! You are doing the right thing for your children. My parents, as well as my husbands parents, spoke openly and honestly about adoption. We raised our son the same way. And just this past August, our son met his two birth half siblings and one full blood brother who is only 11 months younger ( through a dna test). We never know how God works behind the scenes making miracles happen. God bless your family.

  • Anna S November 14, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    Why do you think adoption has become a huge part of your community? It’s amazing how many of your friends have adopted.

    • Mix and Match Mama November 15, 2018 at 5:29 am

      I really think the Lord has just moved in this community in a big way. There are so many adopted families (too many to count!). I also think it spreads a little…people see how wonderful it is and they think to themselves “I can do that too” and it snowballs.

  • Theresa Wenz November 14, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    I was adopted from Pusan City, South Korea when I was six months old to a couple living in New York who had two biological children and had already adopted once before (another baby girl from Seoul, South Korea five years earlier). Back in the 70’s, adoptive parents were not required to travel internationally for the “Gotcha” day. I was met by my parents at JFK along with my siblings. So that is one thing that I think is so amazing for all parties now, particularly for Kensington and Smith to see where Ashby and Madeley were born and see the culture and place. Like one of your other readers pointed out, and perhaps another sign of the times back then, my family did not discuss our adoption often. Obviously, it was clear from day one that my sister and I were adopted, but it was not a topic that was brought up. My parents did encourage us to embrace where we came from and we enrolled in Korean studies and attended camp for other Korean adoptees, but it was not spoken about where we shared our thoughts and experiences. It was only a little over two years ago that I had a conversation with my mom and asked her what led her to adopting. I was raised in a wonderful home with two loving parents who loved us all of our days and made sure we felt that love. With all of that being said, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there were times, to this day, that I have struggled with the very beginnings of my life not knowing all of information nor having the ability to obtain it. But like the amazing author of this blog once pointed out….God wants us all to be as positive as we can be as negative thoughts can be so darn destructive. I try to be mindful of that every day. Shay, I truly believe you are such an extraordinary person in sharing your journey and the journey of your family with us all. You use your platform to spread love, light, insight and more and you are a true advocate and champion for adoption. God bless you and sending lots of love and prayers to your brave and quite the fighter, Miss Ashby London!!!

  • Liz Thorson November 14, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    First of all, I’m carrying positive thoughts and love for sweet Ashby, today. I hope her pain is not too severe and that her recovery is speedy. 💕💕 Love this post as an adoptive mother of two boys, now adults. Our domestic adoptions were when the boys were infants and they were both semi-closed adoptions at the birthmothers’ request. There was a letter/picture exchange after one year, for one of the boys and then no response from his birth parents the 2nd year. We were open and free with adoption talk, anawering any and all questions they asked. I could share much more, but because our sons are grown men today, I feel like the journey is theirs to share and social media is just too easily available. I love your family and admire and respect you and Andrew for the terrific parenting you are giving all 4 of your precious kiddos!❤️

  • Anna November 14, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    We are fostering to adopt so our daughter remembers her birth parents (she came to us at age 4). Sometimes she’ll say she wishes she could live with them, or ask why she can’t, and I’ve landed on saying “because they are making choices that aren’t safe, and so she’s with us to keep her safe”. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but it’s the best we can do so far, LOL! We also tell her that her bio parents love her very much, and that she didn’t do anything wrong to be removed from their care. I think it’s important to never speak negatively of bio parents, because no matter what adopted kids feel some kind of connection with them.

  • Sara Wilder Bryant November 14, 2018 at 4:41 pm

    Have you ever heard of the Archibald project? It is a nonprofit working to end the orphan crisis and its founders are currently living in Congo while they finalize their adoption of a group of three siblings. Whitney’s instagram is beautiful and their story is incredible! Her name is Whitney Runyon and instagram handle is @whitrunyon

  • Kathy November 14, 2018 at 5:49 pm

    I cried when I read this. It is a truly beautiful post. Bless you and your family for the life you have given these girls. I really believe that all of us who read your blog don’t even think anymore about the fact they were adopted. They just are, and always will be, Shull children. I’m sure you are doing everything right, and the way you talk so positively about their birth families is precious. Thank you for sharing.

  • Angela Ellingson November 14, 2018 at 7:13 pm

    The way you talk about the girls’ birth parents is incredible. It warms my heart! That is all really amazing to think about regarding them, and it has to be so good for the girls’ well being to be surrounded by so much love and positivity! Praying for your sweet Ashby.

  • Tasha November 14, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    Love, and strength, and courage to Ashby. Praying for her, and you, and her medical team.

  • Jeni November 14, 2018 at 9:09 pm

    So many prayers for sweet Ashby today! ♥️

  • Leanne Gilchrist November 14, 2018 at 10:41 pm

    Shay, I hate it that I didn’t read this post earlier today, as I could have been praying for Ashby all day! Well, you know I pray for her at night, and she’ll get double prayers from me tonight. One of my daughters, who is almost 16, said today that, if she cannot have children of her own, she’s definitely going to adopt, and that made me so happy, that her heart is there. I’ll also be praying for your family, for Kensington and Smith, for Madeley, and for Andrew, as well. I know how hard all of these surgeries are for everyone in your home. I hope you gain a full heart and joy from knowing that so many are praying for you!

  • Sunny November 14, 2018 at 11:02 pm

    I was adopted at 3 months old from South Korea, I was adopted by a family with 3 biological kids. We never really talked about adoption and when I was probably age 4-5, I realized I looked nothing like my family! And that’s when I had lots of questions. It was hard being Asian & adopted in rural farm town, I wished at times to look more American. Although I knew how lucky I was to be with a loving family, I never wanted to talk about my roots. I wanted to feel they were my “real” parents & my siblings, nothing different.
    Now as an adult and having my own kids; I’m so grateful for adoption! I talk about it with my kids & they want to adopt. I think you guys are doing a fantastic job with those adorable girls! Thank you for this topic!

  • Sonia November 15, 2018 at 7:49 am

    Oh My….reading these post and stories from adopted readers fill my heart with joy! Thank you Shay for sharing, and opening the door for others to share about adoption! Praying you have a great day with no broken ornaments, and lots of smiles and joy from the beautiful Ms. Ashby while she supervises the Christmas transformation! 🙂

  • Kate November 15, 2018 at 7:58 am

    I’ve noticed your two littles are often dressed in matching clothes. Do you do that to help bond them together? It’s so great that they have each other.

    • Mix and Match Mama November 15, 2018 at 4:38 pm

      They’re at the stage now where they like to dress alike…I’m sure that will change, but they just like it 🙂 .

  • lori reggio November 15, 2018 at 8:51 am

    My family’s prayers are with you always. You are doing a wonderful job with your sweet China dolls. God Bless you.

  • Claire Faccini November 15, 2018 at 9:37 am

    My mom and I have been following your story for a while now since She adopted me as a baby. As an adult (I’m 28 now) I truly think they handled how they talked about adoption perfectly. I know that’s not always the case, some kids don’t know until they’re older or it’s ignored completely. With my family, we celebrated it! My “Gotcha” day was just as special as my birthday and for as long as I can remember, my parents made me very aware that it was the lawyer who brought me to them, not the stork haha! I see similarities with how you talk to your children about it and I think you’re doing a fantastic job!! I’ve been where Madeley and Ashby are and I know that they also will have so much gratitude in their hearts for how you approach the subject, much like I do for my parents. Love these posts!

  • Kate November 15, 2018 at 10:38 am

    Hi Shay!
    Both my sister and I were domestic closed adoptions through the state as infants (which, from what I understand is basically impossible now). One question I get asked all the time is “when did your parents tell you/talk about with you?” and my honest answer is I can’t remember a period in my life where I didn’t know. They have always been completely open about it with both my sister and I. It’s always been a sort of matter-of-fact thing in our family,…it’s just a part of who we are as a unit. And as far as talking about why we were put up for adoption, my parents have always told us that we were doubly blessed and loved–someone loved us enough to go through the pain of having a child, then giving that child a better life, and then we are loved by our parents and extended family—they always told us that giving up a child for adoption is sort of the ultimate show of love, and that we should respect and be thankful for our birth parents. Does that make sense? Anyway, my parents are amazing , and adoption is one of the reasons my faith is so strong—how could I not believe in a loving God, when look at the family he gave me? I could have ended up anywhere, and I was given the best parents in the world.

  • Stephanie Snyder November 15, 2018 at 11:15 am

    My husband is adopted. He and his brother, actually. They were both put up for adoption by their birth parents. My husband’s birth mom was a young college student and her family does not believe in abortion, so she moved from Kentucky to California to live with her older sister and give birth to my husband. We have learned all this through the wonders of the DNA test fad that has become so huge of late. He started a FamilyTree when we had our first child, and we have all taken DNA tests. We found my husband’s birth mom through her great uncle, and we flew to Hawaii where she lives to meet her and her family. We have since met her entire family in Kentucky, she came to California after we had our second child, and we are going to Colorado to spend time with her and her sisters and family right before Christmas. All that being said, in my husband’s case, his parents could not have children and they adopted, and I am so grateful to their open hearts. They have friends who adopted, too. My father in law could not have children after exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. I will say my husband always felt a little out of place in his family, but some of that has to do with his parents not being very open communicatively, and keeping information from him about his adoption and birth family. Similarly, they had information about his brother’s birth family, who he has since found, as well. Their situations are different from your girls, though, since their birth families were relatively easily located, and they were put up for adoption during the pregnancy. I am so for adoption, and have been praying on it. We feel our family may be complete with two bio kids, but who knows where we may end up. You are an inspiration and your family is so magical – the way your kids interact and clearly love each other is so wonderful. I am sure there are the typical sibling spats, but the way you have opened your hearts is really encouraging. Prayers that Ashby is feeling better today!

  • Amy November 16, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    My husband is adopted and has 17 siblings that were adopted as well. Kind of a crazy family, there’s 23 total. 18 are adopted and 5 are biological. They were raised on a homestead on 40 acres in rural Alaska. I’m going to write a book sometime! Ha! But anyways, one tradition they did was on each child’s birthday, they would all sit around the table as the parents retold the story of how they came to be with their family. It was a special moment for each kid.

  • Maman Patate November 18, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    I intend to be as honest and open as possible about my daughter’s biological parents ( even if I know next to nothing about them because the Spanish legislation doesn’t allow you to get a lot of information). She was adopted as an embryo and in this case I don’t know if “adopted” is the right word since I gave birth to her (but we don’t share biological material). We still have a lot to figure out…