Ashby’s Gotcha Day {4th Anniversary}

Friends!  I’m so happy to be back here with you!!!  I took a few weeks off from work and blogging to enjoy Christmas and a ski vacation with my fam, but I’m back and ready to jump into 2019 with you.  I know I say this every time, but geez, I miss you guys when I’m gone.  I hope each and every one of you had a wonderful holiday season.  I must say, there is absolutely no better way fo me to kick off 2019 than with ASHBY’S 4TH GOTCHA DAY!

A post where I can gush on sweet Ashby?  Yes, please!

Friday, January 4th, we celebrated four amazing years with this sweet girl…

…when did she get so BIG?!

Sometimes, I really try and remember life without Ashby, but it’s hard for me.  I know we were happy and there was joy in our home, but it’s honestly hard to picture it without Ashby there.

Four years ago, we waited there in that civil affairs office in Xi’an, China for them to bring in our baby girl.  For about 6 months, we had looked at her little picture and wondered what she would be like.  We waited, we were excited, we were nervous, we were giddy, we were unsure, we were a whole lot of everything all at one time.  They carried her in and honest to goodness, as soon as they handed her to me (she was screaming and crying), I knew she was mine.  That tiny little 2.5 year old body just felt like my baby against me.

I cannot imagine all the emotions in her mind at that time.  I’m sure she was scared.  She was nervous.  She was sad.  She was grieving.  She was all of those things and more.  And she was brave.

I wish each and every one of you were to know Ashby.  She is sweet, silly, she talks really loud, she giggles a lot, she loves to play with other people, she laughs easily, she’s super talkative, she loves to give kisses and huggies (that’s her word), she loves to cuddle and she loves to ask questions.  She genuinely loves people with her whole heart too.  She is the kid that looks so forward to speech therapy because she just loves the therapist so much.  She’s the kiddo that when we’re having framily nights, she can be found sitting in Tab’s lap or giving Erika a hug.  She is just PERSONABLE!  The few of us that get to see Ashby at her most vulnerable also know this…she is tough.

Friends, Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome is a daily battle.

Ashby is in pain every single day.

Ashby wakes up with knots and clots more often than I’d like to count.

Ashby is often seen doing things around the house and/or school with her arm up in the air because that’s how she relieves pressure when it gets too bad.  She would never tell you she’s in pain, she simply just raises her arm and continues with what she’s doing.

Ashby does not like help.


She wants to put on her own shoes, open her own cup (she uses her chin many times as a second hand), she wants to take her own shower, brush her own hair, buckle her own seatbelt, fasten her own buttons…Ashby does NOT want your help.  She can do it on her own.

This sweet girl started kindergarten this year, and she’s doing so well!  She’s learning to read, to write stories, and she was even recognized with a special award at the beginning of December.  Ashby has made new friends and comes home happy and excited every day.

Ashby is pure joy.

We’ve talked a lot about her birth family lately.  It comes up organically, and we just go with it.  On the way to dance the other day, she asked me if I thought her birth mom was dead.


I told her that I had no reason to think so, and asked her why she asked.  Her answer?  Because maybe that’s why she couldn’t keep me.

Adoption is complicated, y’all.

Our number one goal from the beginning has been to make sure Ashby knows she’s loved.  We want her to know she’s loved by us and also by her birth family too.  Her birth mama carried her to term and left her somewhere she knew Ashby would be found…that’s love, friends.  That’s love.

The thing about a Gotcha Day is that we didn’t just “get her”, she GOT ALL OF US.  She has everyone of us wrapped around her little finger.  We are madly, truly and deeply in love with this precious girl.

Four years of Ashby London and every one of us are the better for it.

She has changed so many with her positive spirit, her strength, her bravery and her sweet, sweet heart.

We love this girl so very much!!!!!


Anyone else in tears?!  I am just typing this!!!!

Okay, that wraps up today’s post.

I started an ADOPTION FACEBOOK GROUP last January for anyone who has adopted/is interested in adoption and it has grown into a FANTASTIC group that is very supporting, loving and encouraging to all of us in the adoption community.  If you would like to join, you just need to send in a request and answer the three questions.  I am always so encouraged by these women in this group!

Don’t forget, on Wednesday Erika and I kick off this…

Let's Look!

Let’s Look!


If you blog too, make sure you link up with us!

LOADS of vacation pics to come later this week!  If you missed my 2018 YEAR IN REVIEW post last week, you can see that HERE.

Happy Monday, friends!  It’s so good to be back home with YOU!!!

AND PSSSSSST: 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 Gotcha Day {2nd Anniversary}

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 January 7, 2019 at 4:39 am

    Happy Gotcha Day to Ashby! And welcome back to the blogging world, Shay! 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • Erika Slaughter January 7, 2019 at 4:50 am

    You can say that again…we’re ALL wrapped around her finger!! Full of joy is the BEST way to describe your Ashby Shull! We love her so very much! She’s touched so many lives and well-I could go on and on!! Oh, and Madeley Shull can be found hugging Erika too-except I’m totally forcing it. Ashby offers it freely. 😉

  • Beth Knecht January 7, 2019 at 5:10 am

    Happy Gotcha Day to Ashby!
    What a blessing!

  • Amy Heinl January 7, 2019 at 5:32 am

    What a beautiful lovingbtribute to your sweet Ashby. I have tears in my eyes. I suffer from a lymphatic disease in my legs and can so relate to her. The pain is there always but you have to keep moving along. I know that God will bless her through this and use her many amazing gifts to move mountains and inspire others in His name. Happy gotcha day sweet Ashby..ww are all blessed to know you.

    • Carly January 7, 2019 at 3:47 pm

      Is yours a Lymphatic Malformation?
      My daughter has a Lymphatic Malformation in her neck/chest area, and I’ve often wondered if she’s in constant pain. She was born with it so she doesn’t know what “normal” feels like. She rarely (to never!) complains, but I hate not knowing if she’s hurting or not.

  • Rachel January 7, 2019 at 5:37 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your family’s journey! While I love reading most everything you put out I have to say, these gotcha day posts are my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE!

  • Ruth January 7, 2019 at 5:43 am

    Oh gosh Shay! What a beautiful blog post. God bless you and your lovely

  • Christy Latimore January 7, 2019 at 6:09 am

    Crying right now!! 😭😭😭. Thanks for opening up about this – it’s given me so much perspective that I haven’t had prior to your experience. Happy Gotcha Day to you all!

  • Narci January 7, 2019 at 6:21 am

    Absolutely beautiful post, friend! Ashby is so sweet and precious….We love her so much!

  • Lina January 7, 2019 at 6:36 am

    How has it been 4 years already! Thank you for sharing your adoption stories with such detail and faithfulness. It has definitely encouraged me in our adoption process!

  • Stephanie January 7, 2019 at 6:39 am

    Happy gotcha day to your sweet girl!!!

  • Elspeth Mizner January 7, 2019 at 6:50 am

    Welcome back!!! We missed you on here!!! Happy Gotcha Day to sweet Ashby!

  • Alexis deZayas January 7, 2019 at 7:08 am

    My mornings have missed you Shay! Happy gotcha day to sweet Ashby girl!

  • Elizabeth January 7, 2019 at 7:21 am

    Happy Gotcha Day to Ashby! I really missed you here on the blog the last two weeks, I am so glad you are back! I can’t wait to hear all about your guys holidays!

  • Rachel January 7, 2019 at 7:32 am

    What a brave, sweet and beautiful girl! Happy Gotcha Day!!

  • Sheaffer Sims January 7, 2019 at 7:39 am

    Oh, sweet Ashby. There’s not a person that’s met her that hasn’t absolutely FALLEN IN LOVE her. You’re right..she’s PURE JOY. Like sunshine with skin on.

  • Paula January 7, 2019 at 7:46 am

    Welcome Back!
    Happy New Year! I look forward to all the post.
    Happy Gotcha Day, Ashby!

  • Elizabeth January 7, 2019 at 7:57 am

    Beautiful Ashby!!! Love yalll!!!

  • Christin January 7, 2019 at 8:05 am

    Happy gotcha day sweet Ashby!! Her joy even comes through in pictures 🙂

  • Brooke Richardson January 7, 2019 at 8:07 am

    I could read this over and over! Ashby is one of a kind, love her!!!

  • Kimberly January 7, 2019 at 8:29 am

    Happy gotcha day! I love to hear how Ashby adapts to living with Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome. My nephew has cerebral palsy. It’s on the milder side if there was a scale, but I’m always SO amazed to see how he adapts when trying to use his left hand. Kids are strong and they teach us so much!!

  • Kathy Roe January 7, 2019 at 8:58 am

    Ashby is such a blessing. The pictures of her more than portray how special she is to your family. Thank you for sharing her with us too!

  • Janie January 7, 2019 at 9:11 am

    Happy Gotcha Day Ashby ! I enjoy hearing all about your strong, loving, kind & adorable sweet girl !!

  • Tish Ferry January 7, 2019 at 9:28 am

    What a beautiful post, Shay! Welcome back and Happy Gotcha Day to Ashby!! 🙂
    Simply Tish

  • Amanda Wilson January 7, 2019 at 9:31 am

    And Shay is back and now my routine can go back to normally! Ashby you have inspired more people then you will get know with your strength and joy!

  • Heather January 7, 2019 at 9:37 am

    Posts about Ashby always bring me to tears. She is so loved, brave, and seems like a great kid!

  • Kimberly penson January 7, 2019 at 9:52 am

    I remember gasping out loud with the first picture of Ashby. Thank you for speaking out on adoption and what the Bible tells us about it. Happy gotcha day sweet family.

  • Sarah January 7, 2019 at 9:53 am

    Yup. Tears streaming down my face. Happy Gotcha Day Ashby!

  • Lisa January 7, 2019 at 9:53 am

    Happy Gotcha Day to that adorable, sweet, strong girl! Her joy does radiate!

  • Kathy Lang January 7, 2019 at 10:17 am

    Ashby’s joy radiates through the pictures you share of her! It’s been fun getting to know her through your posts. Although the past 4 years seems to have flown by, it seems like Ashby’s always been a part of your family! So glad you are back on the blog this week. I look forward to reading your blog every morning!

  • Stacey January 7, 2019 at 10:22 am

    Looking at her hand from the first day in China to now really shows how much better it is! You’re doing so many wonderful things for her – It will be interesting some day when she’s older and can reflect back on this experience in her life to hear her perception of it all.
    Thanks for sharing her with us 🙂

  • Christi {Jealous Hands} January 7, 2019 at 10:44 am

    Happy Gotcha Day, Ashby!

  • Lauren Chitwood January 7, 2019 at 10:47 am

    I am SO glad you are back!! I have missed you!! This post is so sweet and you and your family have encouraged me to adopt someday!!

  • Amanda @ That Inspired Chick January 7, 2019 at 11:07 am

    Love that precious, brave and strong girl!! Happy 4 years, friends! That Inspired Chick

  • Beth Valenta January 7, 2019 at 11:22 am

    Warms my heart in every way! She is precious.

  • Tracy Doubts January 7, 2019 at 11:54 am

    Thank you for sharing miss Ashby with us Shay. I think about her and your family often. Happy gotcha day Ashby!

  • Patricia Anderson January 7, 2019 at 11:57 am

    My heart is so full of love for that sweet Ashby of yours. I have an adult daughter with a chronic pain condition who has that same determined spirit and never complains, so I feel like they’re kindred spirits. I know, as a momma, it’s so hard to see your child go through something tough, but I can assure you with Ashby’s spunk and strong will she’ll go so far in life! Blessings to you all!

  • Kerri January 7, 2019 at 12:33 pm

    Thank you for always sharing your life with your blog readers! I realized that I have been following you a while now since I remember when you went to bring Ashby home. Your family is so sweet!

  • Nancy January 7, 2019 at 1:24 pm

    Ashby, the strongest, bravest most inspiring little girl!! Thanks for inspiring me each and every time I read about you!

  • Liz Thorson January 7, 2019 at 1:51 pm

    Your words about your precious Ashby have always painted the picture of such a very special little girl. I admire, respect and love her for her bravery, sweetness, loyalty, determination and grace. It has been made clear to me from your friends who truly know Ashby Shull, that she is a very cherished child they feel lucky to know and they are in awe of her.❤️

  • Kelly Caulfield January 7, 2019 at 3:15 pm

    Shay, as I was watching the video you posted on Instagram of the moment you met Ashby, I could tell that you had no hesitation or questions that she was yours. You went right for her! It was so powerful to watch! Because we have nephews that are adopted I have often thought that part of the complication with adoption is that what feels like abandonment to them is difficult to communicate as the loving act it is because they aren’t yet parents. I feel like you can never know how you could love someone so much that you would be willing to give them up until you have children & would do anything for them. Thank you for sharing!

  • Jenny January 7, 2019 at 4:24 pm

    Tears? Yep! Loved reading your sweet words.
    Happy Gotcha Day Ashby!

  • Amy D. January 7, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    Happy Gotcha Day to sweet Ashby! 🙂

  • Debbie Dunbar January 7, 2019 at 6:08 pm

    Glad you are back. This was a beautiful post about a beautiful child!

  • Jeanie January 7, 2019 at 6:39 pm

    Sweet Ashby! I wish I knew that little girl in person. She sounds so awesome! I also truly wish and pray that something can eventually be done for her syndrome. It really hurts my heart to hear that she’s in pain.

  • Lea Culp January 7, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    What a precious post and yes, I was in tears too by the end. What a lucky, lucky little girl and a lucky, lucky family. It appears to be the perfect match. Blessings abundant for 2019!

  • Shari January 7, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    Welcome back and happy new year! We miss you so much too while you’re away. The perfect way to come back is a celebration of your sweet girl.

  • Allyson January 7, 2019 at 8:04 pm

    We are at the very beginning of our foster journey and I’m absolutely sobbing reading this post!! Thank you for sharing your heart, your family and your precious Ashby with the world! You are an encouragement to so many!

  • Jackie January 7, 2019 at 9:21 pm

    Hi Shay! Happy Gotcha Day, Ashby! This is random but I was browsing Crate and Barrel for an engagement gift this evening and this print came up – not sure why it appeared in my search for engagement since it’s a kids print, but I thought of your family instantly since you’ve traveled to many of these places and Xi’an is the X!

    • Mix and Match Mama January 8, 2019 at 5:23 am

      Oh my goodness!! We need that, Jackie!!

  • Cathy January 7, 2019 at 10:46 pm

    What a beautiful tribute to your daughter. Our 2 sons who came to us through Korean adoptions are 18 and 20 and let me tell you, it just keeps getting better! Blessings upon blessings!

  • Jenn January 7, 2019 at 11:14 pm

    Well that had me in tears. It’s been a true pleasure to watch Ashby grow these last four years through your blog. While I don’t know her personally, she exudes such a shining light from that bright smile and her sweet eyes. You’re one lucky family to have this sweet, brave girl in your life. 💜

  • Britt Hensley January 7, 2019 at 11:37 pm

    Literal tears!! So thankful that you’ve shared Ashby’s journey with all of us. She’s so loved, and I can’t wait to see the big things God is going to do through her! Happy Gotcha Day!

  • Laura January 8, 2019 at 8:13 am

    Love reading about this sweet girl! My boys (7 and 9) always ask to see pictures of her! She brings joy to us and we don’t even know her. 🙂

  • Victoria January 8, 2019 at 11:40 am

    The latest series of Strictly Come Dancing (UK version of dancing with the stars) that was on in December had a female Paralympic athlete with a missing lower arm. If you can stream some of the episodes it’s a powerful way of seeing how everyone on the show treated it as normal that she would dance, and also the lifts and techniques that her professional partner arranged to fit with her needs.

    I have a chronic illness that includes constant pain. I think it’s really positive that Ashby wants to do things all herself. I would say though that even in a very loving family, the individual can sometimes feel bad about being a burden or needing more help. I know I do. Sometimes I’ll push myself past the point of exhaustion, when it would be better for everyone if I’d stopped sooner. So I just wanted to give some feedback on something to be aware of, in case it helps you to make sure that all Ashby’s intentions come from a positive place and not a negative one.

    • Mix and Match Mama January 8, 2019 at 1:22 pm

      Thank you, Victoria! I appreciate your insight more than you know! xo

  • Jaren January 8, 2019 at 9:35 pm

    Oh my goodness! All the tears! I also feel blessed to get to read about this strong little girl all the time!!

  • Briana January 10, 2019 at 1:59 pm

    Happy Gotcha Day (a few days late) to Ashby! She seems like the sweetest little girl on the planet and her story has touched me in so many ways! The part about her asking about her birth mother has me in tears at my work desk.

    I’m 26 years old, have been following you for about two years and while I always had the inkling as a young women that I wanted to adopt when the time comes, you sweet Shay Shull, have instilled that fire in me even more. Thank you for all you have done for all of us.


  • Felicia Nguyen January 10, 2019 at 10:43 pm

    I am ballin like a little baby.. thank you for sharing this beautiful journey with us. I love reading your your stories about adoptions!!!! ❤️
    God is amazing!!! Much love❤️ to your beautiful family!!!

  • Retha January 26, 2019 at 2:17 pm

    oh the waterworks!!! God will never stop Blessing you, Shay. You have a heart of absolute gold and are such an inspiration. Ashby is an old soul- strong and wise beyond her years. May the good Lord make each coming day easier for her, and may he lessen the burden of her pain. Love and light to your family:)