Adoption Q&A

Since we’ve been celebrating Madeley’s Gotcha Day this week, I thought it would be a great time to do another Q&A!

If you’ve missed some of my others, you can catch them below:
Back to School Q&A
Q&A with Shay PART 2
Q&A with Shay PART 1

On Monday, I asked on Insta Stories if anyone had any adoption related questions for me and you sure did!  I went through and tried to grab as many themes as possible so that even if I didn’t publish the exact question, I published one that is similar.  I am only speaking about my two experiences when it comes to adoption.  I definitely don’t have all the answer and am not an authority on the subject, but it’s been such a positive experience in our family, so if I can share that and encourage one of you to consider adoption, then I think I should.  A great resource for me is my adoption Facebook group.  You can ask just about anything and get a nice big response from the ladies in that group.  If you have already adopted, are really considering adoption, are interested in foster care or are currently fostering, then we’d love to have you join too!

Okay, here are some questions about adoption this week and my answers.  Another little Q&A with Shay!

Happy Thursday, everyone!



The first time around, we asked people we knew who had either already adopted from China or were in the process and then interviewed their agencies.  The agency we picked had worked with two families we knew from church, so we went with them.  We used that same agency for almost our entire second adoption until we changed to another agency.  It really made me sad because I liked them a lot, but the other agency was a better fit for us at that time.  You can read more about that HERE.

For both of our adoptions, it took almost exactly 18 months from the very beginning (completing the first application with the adoption agency) to the very end (being in China and meeting our daughters).

For me, I had to pray about it.  I just really felt called to adopt but Andrew didn’t.  We both had different thoughts on whether or not we should adopt, but we had the same thought that God wouldn’t call one spouse to do something and not the other, so we prayed that God would change one of our hearts.  It took a long time, but He did change Andrew’s.  You can read Andrew’s version of this HERE.

Yes!  At the beginning, we both just felt called to adopt, but we didn’t know what that meant.  We spent a lot of time talking about and praying over whether that meant international or domestic, boy or girl, which  country, what age…all of it.  The decision took a lot of time and prayer.  In our hearts, we felt very sure that God was telling us that our daughters were in China.  We are not opposed to other adoptions at all, it just wasn’t where God was leading us.  I think there are pros and cons to both types of adoption.  I don’t think either thing is perfect or easy or right for everyone.  I think you really have to pray about what is right for your family.

Just like with our bio kids, we had names picked out in advance.  For me, it just made it feel more real (in both adoption and with our biological kiddos) to think about them/pray for them by name and already have that picked out.

When we first brought Madeley home, I blogged about how Andrew and I thought we were going to adopt a little boy from India the second time around, but how God quickly shut all of those doors and pointed us right back to China (where our sweet Madeley ended up being).  We weren’t far along in that Indian process and were not matched, so there was no specific little boy that we had in mind.  It was just a thought, an idea, an avenue we thought we had all figured out, but God was quick to tell us no.

When we decided to adopt the first time, they were so young (around 2 and 3), so we had a lot of conversations with them about other kiddos in the world who didn’t have families that loved them, were able to tuck them in at night, feed them, take them to the doctor, etc, and just “discussed” it a lot.  They weren’t old enough yet to really speak into the subject, but they could listen, ask questions and dream with us about the possibility of adding one of these sweet kiddos to our family.  Now, when we started talking about adopting the second time around, they were older and had a sister from China, so they knew about adoption.  They had actually been inside an orphanage and seen kids without families, so they were very much ready and excited to add a fourth kid to the family (they were 5 and 6).

For me, I had never considered it at all until one Sunday in November 2010 when I sat in a church service that was dedicated to orphan care around the world.  It was during that sermon that the Lord spoke directly to my heart on the subject and just told me that I was supposed to be a mom to a child without one.  I know that’s probably not the common answer, but for me, I really felt like God specifically told me on that day.  Of course, I had to pray about it for years before actually becoming a mom to a child without one (January 2015), but the idea was planted that day and took root.

We did not.  We didn’t start the process until we really felt lead to adopt a girl from China.  For us, we needed to sort out all of that on our own before contacting an agency.

Absolutely!  We also want to visit Laos which is where Madeley’s ancestors must be from as she is way more Laotian than Chinese.

I agree!!  So for us, we started by realizing that in our hearts, we were being pulled towards a girl from China.  We prayed a lot about what kind of child we were suppose to be adopting (domestic, international, boy, girl, baby, toddler, older kid, etc), and after a lot of prayer and conversations with so many friends and other people at church who also had adopted (from a wide variety of places!), we felt called to China.  After we made that decision, we asked anyone we knew who had adopted from China which agency they used and what their experience was like.  After that, we called many agencies and spoke with them over the phone (your agency does not have to be in your state!) and finally selected one.  From there, they held our hand and told us what to do.  If you don’t know anyone who has adopted that you can speak with about an agency, I encourage to reach out to my adoption FB group and ask those ladies in there.

I hate to make a list because I don’t want to discourage anyone from adopting from either, but for us, we just felt called to adopt internationally.  We prayed a lot about domestic adoptions, spoke to so many families who have adopted domestically and really considered it, but always felt God calling us elsewhere.  You can adopt domestically from birth in a private or open adoption and it does seem (based on people in my FB group and others I know) to financially cost about the same as most international adoptions whereas fostering to adopt is almost cost-free.  I think a lot of people would say that’s a big pro to fostering to adopt, but I, of course, wouldn’t want to ever discourage anyone from international adoptions or from birth domestic adoptions if that’s where they truly feel their heart has been called.  Those ladies in my FB group also have some great ideas for fundraising as well!

From beginning to end, including traveling to China to pick up our girls and all of the expense that went into that (hotel, flights, food, etc), I would say each of our adoptions were around $30,000.  Those fees are mainly legal fees as you do not “pay” for you child but you do pay for the US and China to file the appropriate papers, you pay for immigration and you pay for the help of the adoption agency.

Faith.  There were some days that I was really afraid of the unknown, but I just kept praying and asking God to give me a peace if it was His will.

I thought this was an interesting question as I’ve never thought of it before.  I would say that I do spend a lot of time with my little two as they have more needs than my big two at this point (helping them with speech therapy, occupational therapy, they’re just younger and need more assistance and then of course, Ashby’s health keeps me pretty busy too), but I purposely try and carve out quality time with my big kids meeting them and their needs as well.  One of my biggest worries about having four kids was that I wouldn’t be able to spend enough time with each of them (as I grew up in a two-kid household), but my mother-in-law told me one time that yes, I’ll have less time with each kid but that there would be so many blessings to a big family that I wouldn’t even be able to imagine…and she was SO right!  This is my first time in a “big” family, and it has brought me more joy than I ever thought possible.

I knew in November 2010…but it took Andrew about a year later to really know in his heart that we needed to adopt.  He blogged about that experience HERE.

I was ready and (probably not so patiently) waiting for a long time before Andrew was ready…but the minute Andrew as ready, he was READY and we leapt that day.  I think there are so many ways to support a family who is in the process.  One, pray for them!  Two, see if they are having fundraisers/needing financial assistance and bless them that way.  I also loved it when people would give me things that had my girls’ names on them.  It made them feel so real to me to see their names on a necklace or t-shirt or whatnot.  And fourth, just talk to them about it and check on them.  I had a great community of people checking on us during the process.

I had some really significant relationships growing up and into adulthood with people who were adopted and my biggest takeaway from them was always how their parents just talked about it openly and never made it a big secret to reveal (multiple people from different areas of my life).  Looking back, I think it’s so cool how God used people in my past to prepare my heart for being a mom to adopted kids, but He sure did!  We just have always talked about it.  We don’t discuss it every day, but organically, as it comes up, we talk about it in a very positive way.  They know their birth mamas loved them so much in China that they made the decisions to give birth to them and leave them somewhere safe where they could find forever families.  We also talk about how beautiful, sweet and smart those mamas must be because Ashby and Madeley are so beautiful, sweet and smart.  Needless to say, we just kind of work it in.

For us, it was.  We just felt really pulled towards the girls in China.

I think both are hard and have their own complications.

Sort of.  Both of our girls had incorrect health records.  So, with international adoptions, you (for the most part) get photos and medical records of your prospective kiddo.  Now, sometimes these records and photos are outdated, but they provide as much as they can.  We took this information and let an adoption physician (a recommendation through our agency) look over the records and then give us her opinion on their health.  We were told that Ashby had a vascular malformation in her arm, but that was about it.  She wasn’t diagnosed/we didn’t understand the complexity of it until specialists over here had the chance to really examine her and she underwent MRIs.  Now, I don’t post pics of my girls in the orphanages, BUT let me assure you, you would be shocked if you saw some of Ashby’s as almost all of them do not include a picture of her right arm.  I believe in my heart it’s not because those ladies in the orphanage were trying to trick anyone with the photos but that they really do love those kids and want them to find forever homes, so they are trying to present the best possible photos of each kiddo.  Speaking of which…Madeley’s paperwork, EKG, echo-cardiogram and blood-work all showed that she had two major medical problems and was even on medication for one of them when we picked her up.  When we brought her back to the US and visited three specialists, they all said the same thing “there is nothing wrong with this kiddo, those results were fabricated/that’s not a pic of her heart/etc”, and so we believe (based on what our agency could gather) that in her orphanage, the workers there created files to make her look sick so that she COULD be adopted out of the country.  In China, “healthy” kids can not be adopted out but must remain in the orphanages until they’re old enough to be released.  So, there’s that.

One more thing on this topic, in China, kids are either labeled “non-special focus” or “special focus”.  A “non-special focus” kid means that they only have one health problem and that it’s more minor.  A “special focus” label means that the kiddo has multiple needs and/or they’re much more complex.   I get emails every week from people wanting to adopt from China and they’re nervous because their potential kiddo has been labeled “special focus”.  I AM NOT SAYING THIS IS ALWAYS THE CASE, but I just want to point out that Ashby was labeled non-special focus and Madeley was labeled special focus…so who the heck knows?  I wouldn’t put too much stock in those labels.

Yes, but I don’t think any more scared them I would have been if we had decided to have a third or fourth biological child.

My views on what constitutes a family have changed.  I used to think it really was the 2.5 kids, one dog and white picket fence, but it’s not.  Family can mean a lot of different things.

Not one bit and that IS SO CRAZY TO ME!  I knew I would love them so much, but really, words cannot express how much I love them.  How much my mama heart looks at them and sees THE EXACT SAME KIND OF LOVE I see for Kensington and Smith.  It is SO FREAKING SWEET how God can do that.  How he can make strangers from opposite sides of the world FAMILY?!

No way!  Now, I don’t have any hormonal teens in my house yet, so who the heck knows what the future holds…but oh my word, those four love each other.  (That being said, please know they’re still siblings that squabble too 😉 ).

Waiting.  I hated the waiting.  I hated the not knowing if they were hungry or cold or hot or thirsty or neglected or being abused or having the best day ever.  The waiting while not knowing was hard for me.

Language.  I wan’t prepared for years of language delays.  I don’t know?  Maybe people aren’t talking about it?  Maybe my kids are the only ones?  But between articulation and limited vocabulary, that has been hard and unexpected for me.  It’s something we work on every day.

In China, you receive your kiddo and then they’re with you 100% from that minute on, so that’s AMAZING!  I thought the time in China was great because we were in our own little bubble and really got to focus on getting to know each other.

I would have immersed them in more speech/preschool earlier and more days a week.  I shouldn’t have waited and should have tackled it earlier on.

It’s long!  We were in China for 3 weeks with Ashby and then a little over 2 weeks with Madeley…that’s just a long time to be away from home.  All I wanted to do was get home with my baby, so that was hard.

1: Pray and let the Lord help you decide who you should be adopting.  Don’t adopt one way or another just because it’s familiar/”easier”/what other people are encouraging you to do.  You and God decide that.

2: Take your kids with you if you can when you travel.  I wholeheartedly believe our girls attached so well to our family because they had the other kids there with them from minute one.  Think about it, your whole existence is in an orphanage filled with kids and then all of a sudden, you’re moved from that into a quiet hotel room with two adults.  I would imagine that’s a hard transition.  I think it helped my girls to see other kids.  I think they bonded and connected with those kiddos really quickly and easily and felt more comfortable with us knowing the other kids liked us.  That being said, I know not everyone can/will take their kids with them, and that’s okay!!!  It just meant a lot to our family, so I don’t want to not say it.

3: I would really be prayerful and mindful about adopting out of birth order.  We actually interviewed one agency who refused to do “out of birth order” adoptions and off the top of my head, I can think of two families I personally know that blame so many of their problems on the birth order being wrong.  AGAIN, I’M NOT SAYING NOT TO DO IT, just please be mindful of it and talk it over with your social worker.  Our social worker always said that everyone deserves the chance to be the baby and when you go out of birth order, you rob the new kiddo of that plus, it puts pressure on the new kiddo to “act” older than the “baby” of the family even if the new kiddo is emotionally/mentally/physically less developed than the baby.  So many families thrive out of birth order, so please hear me when I say it’s not bad at all, just something to consider as you think about adoption and how it fits into your family.  I never would have thought about this prior to adopting, so maybe you haven’t either.  I’m not saying it’s bad, I’m just saying to think about how it would affect your family’s dynamics.

We wanted her to have a British name just like the other kiddos and Madeley, England is a town in the UK 🙂 .

Sometimes they bring her up on their own (without my prompting), and we’ll have a nice conversation about her.  I just always want them to know she loved them and that my hope is that one day, we’ll get to meet her in Heaven.

GREAT QUESTION!!  The two things that come to mind first are time and money.  We donate to several orphanages around the world, and we also spend our time volunteering there as well.  This last year, Andrew spent a week at an orphanage (not his first time to do that), and I realllllly wanted to do the same, but my trip was cancelled just prior to my departure because of government concerns, but I’m very hopeful that I’ll get the opportunity again.  They need monetary support and also many need supplies as well.  I wish I had a list of people/places you could help, but I don’t right here off the top of my head (another post at a later time perhaps??), just know, it’s out there!  We do so much through our church, so perhaps a church in your community can help point you in the right direction too!

Yes and no.  I blogged about that HERE.  We ended up switching agencies during Madeley’s adoption and that was really hard on me emotionally, but it lead me to my Madeley Moo.

Not at all!  You can read about that HERE.

No, we used the same agency for about half of M’s adoption, I just decided not to share it publicly the second time around as the “waiting” was hard on me, and I didn’t want to have to “wait” in public.

For us, it was to really think about who was missing in our family.  After you know (international, domestic, boy, girl, young, old), then you can find the right people/agencies to help you find each other.


We talked about it all the time!!  It’s probably very similar to when you become pregnant and already have older kids.

Not one bit!  We had the sweetest social worker both times (a referral from so many people at church who all used her and loved her), so she made us feel relaxed in our own home and helped us every step of the way.

Yes.  There are different criteria for different places, and your agency should help guide you through this.

Whew!  Anyone still reading this?  That’s a lot of questions!!  My prayer right now is that if you feel your heart telling you to adopt, you will.  I would love to think that more families could be beautifully made out of brokenness through adoption. xo

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  • Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog September 12, 2019 at 4:55 am

    You have such a good heart, Shay. I’m glad God led you to where you are today. Thanks for being so thorough in your answers too! 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • Erika Slaughter September 12, 2019 at 4:55 am

    Adoption is amazing. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

  • Ahna @ Hammers N Hugs September 12, 2019 at 5:22 am

    Another thought to the question on how to support orphans even if you don’t feel called to adopt would be financially supporting organizations that help with adoption fundraising. I love this because you can actually help bring a child home! Also I firmly believe more would answer the call to adoption if the financial burden wasn’t so great. Lifesong ( is the only adoption fundraising organization I know of that gives families 100% of the funds raised due to private donations that cover administrative costs. Also you can scroll though over 200 families’ stories (, and if one resonates with you then you can give to help them bring their child home!! There are so many precious ways to be a part of the adoption community and care for orphans!! Loved reading through this post! Thanks Shay!

  • Narci September 12, 2019 at 5:38 am

    Those were some great questions and answers. I’m so glad you did this!

  • Sarah Shaneyfelt September 12, 2019 at 5:57 am

    I loved this! So many of these things apply to domestic adoption too–the waiting is so hard!!! I did a Q&A on my blog yesterday and since we adopted domestically, it may help some people!!

    And I will say your Facebook group has been an amazing source of information! Anytime I was unsure or had a question about something, I could post it in the group and lots of ladies would help!!

    • Nicola L September 12, 2019 at 7:28 pm

      I love your adoption post. Thanks for sharing! I would love to add to our family by adoption but my husband is not on the same page. So, I decided to help a child in my community by becoming a CASA. A CASA is a court appointed special advocate for a child(ren) going through the foster care process. I act as her liaison in all court hearings and proceedings because my girl is only two years old. I learned about becoming a CASA through an excellent book. I highly recommend you add this to your list. It is called “Three little words” and it’s written by Ashley Rhodes Courter.

  • Dana September 12, 2019 at 5:58 am

    Thanks Shay, that was very thorough. I had a thought midway through- I wonder if they ‘helped’ Madeley because they knew she was part Laotian and would have a hard time with prejudice. We have friends that live in China and have one Chinese parent/one non-Chinese. They have all
    mentioned that their child will face bullying because they do not appear to be 100% Chinese. Maybe they were actually protecting her? That’s really sweet to think about. You don’t have to post this if you think it sounds derogatory toward Chinese people. We all know there is racism all over the world, unfortunately. But I can tell with all your disclaimers that you must get a lot of flack for some ridiculous things!

  • Sheaffer Sims September 12, 2019 at 6:19 am

    WOW! So informative! I know this post had to take a sweet forever, but these answers will help so many people! Good job!

  • Elspeth September 12, 2019 at 6:37 am

    I love Q&A posts, this was so informative. The biggest thing I learned through this post is the power of prayer and trusting in God. Have a great day Shay!

  • Sonia Limon September 12, 2019 at 7:08 am

    While I don’t feel called to adopt…I must say that I LOVE all you share and your encouragement for those who do. It inspired me to get involved and find a good agency to help support…so THANK YOU!

  • Sara September 12, 2019 at 7:27 am

    I love your adoption posts! We have four kids but are certain that our family isn’t complete yet! We will adopt, just waiting on the right timing! Thank you for your honesty! It’s so encouraging to read about your experiences.

  • Sara September 12, 2019 at 7:53 am

    I love this so much and hearing your heart. I think this is amazing advice, and thank you for putting it out there!

  • Connie September 12, 2019 at 8:14 am

    I was told 15 years ago now, that it cost around $10,000 to adopt one child from China. And that you don’t pay it all at once of course. I know some people who say they can’t afford it or say it’s so expensive to adopt. I’m sure it depends from exactly where in China. Plus I’m sure cost goes up as the years pass by. And the couple has adopted two different times. Both were under 14 months old as well. And from different places in China. She also told me in time you get your money back. Not sure what that meant? Only one has a health issue as well. I don’t know them super well and only met them twice in person. May God bless everybody who adopts these sweet kiddos. Thank you for sharing your journey as well Shay. 😊

  • LeeAnn September 12, 2019 at 8:20 am

    What a great forum. So many questions answered!! Thank you for posting this.

  • Deena September 12, 2019 at 8:26 am

    That was so interesting, Shay! Thanks for sharing. I got tears reading about Andrew’s journey toward adoption. I had an ectopic pregnancy between my boys and did consider adoption if we weren’t able to have another. Many many years ago, one of my (former) neighbors adopted siblings from Russia which was wonderful but one thing they did was not discipline them out of sympathy for what they had gone through. I totally get that but I don’t think it helped the kids because they were somewhat out of control at times. I supply taught at that time and the 1st grade boy was one of two who had their desk separated from the rest of the class for a reason. It made me wonder if that’s something that anyone discussed with you when planning adoption?

    • Mix and Match Mama September 12, 2019 at 8:34 am

      Our social worker spoke into discipline every time we met. That was a topic she was very passionate about.

  • Liz Thorson September 12, 2019 at 8:29 am

    Terrific post, Shay! The questions you chose to share and your comprehensive, honest and heartfelt responses will be so helpful for anyone considering adoption. You are such a dear, kind, compassionate lady. I think of you as a friend.❤️ I have loved reading your Mix and Match Mama blog and your adoption Facebook group! Thank you for all of the time, energy, wisdom and love you share with us. Our sons, now 30 and 35, were adopted as infants here in the US. They made our family complete.❤️

  • Anne Champion September 12, 2019 at 9:03 am

    Do you have any friends with experience with artificial twinning? We are in the process of possibly adopting a 13 year old boy from China that is aging out soon. He would be 1 month older than our youngest son. I’ve spoken with our pediatrician about it, but wondered if you had any thoughts. Thanks!
    Anne Champion

    • Mix and Match Mama September 12, 2019 at 10:12 am

      I have two friends who have kiddos very close in age and honestly, I would say (at least to me) they don’t share problems associated with that small age difference. I think it’s working out really well for both!

  • Camille Reerslev September 12, 2019 at 9:07 am

    Love that you did this! As someone who was adopted and who someday plans to adopt so glad people are sharing their wisdom about the subject and encouraging others!

  • Rachel Dean September 12, 2019 at 9:17 am

    I really loved this post and have been thinking about adoption for a while now!!! I hope you’ll do more Q&A’s in the future- this was very informative and helpful!

  • Diana September 12, 2019 at 1:42 pm

    I wish adoption wasn’t so expensive… $30,000 is a lot of money for most average/middle class families. I can’t help but think of all of the babies and children who need homes and all of the families who want to adapt but can’t afford it 🙁

    Also, I never would have thought about the language delay either! Did you have to actively teach them English? Or did they just pick it up gradually over time? Thanks for sharing everything!

    • Mix and Match Mama September 12, 2019 at 2:39 pm

      We actively work on it. They have an amazing speech language pathologist who meets with them weekly and then we do daily homework to work on articulation and to help increase their vocabulary. I wish it weren’t so expensive too. It breaks my heart.

  • Stephanie September 12, 2019 at 2:19 pm

    Adoption is LOVE ❤️!!! I’m a mom of 2 amazing and beautiful daughters that came to our family through adoption. It really is about love on all sides !! Wonderful post 💕

  • Amanda @ That Inspired Chick September 12, 2019 at 2:25 pm

    What a great post!! I love that you are able to reach so many people with your story. I’m sure you are planting seeds in so many hearts. xoxo
    That Inspired Chick

  • Tisha September 12, 2019 at 2:28 pm

    Thank you for being so candid and open about you family. You are a breath of fresh air!!

  • Shanna Corn September 12, 2019 at 6:45 pm

    Thank you for sharing your family with us! The guy I work with has an adopted son from Russia who has recently connected with his birth mother & other siblings through social media. Will A & M ever be able to find their birth mother’s? Will you & Andrew encourage this if they are able too?

    • Mix and Match Mama September 13, 2019 at 5:37 am

      I would absolutely love for them to know who their birth families are. I have no idea how that’s possible as there are zero records or anything to connect them to anyone (as is so common with Chinese adoptions since so many of the kids are abandoned and not turned over), but boy, my heart would love for them to have their whole story.

  • Lauryn September 12, 2019 at 10:17 pm

    Thank you so much for your time and heart warming honest responses! You are amazing and that’s why you’re so blessed! I read each q&a and feel better equipped to help and support my single, gay, male best friend whose heart has been wanting to adopt so bad!! Being that not everyone is open minded and accepting of gays, do you think he will have a problem adopting internationally? May God continue to bless your heart and your family. Thank you so much, again!!

    • Mix and Match Mama September 13, 2019 at 5:34 am

      Different countries have different rules about single parent adoptions, but there are some that do allow it!

  • Robyn September 23, 2019 at 7:40 pm

    Thank you so much for taking the time to answer all the questions! It answered questions I hadn’t thought of. Thanks for being so open about your family and adoption journey!