Madeley’s Gotcha Day {3 Year Anniversary!}

Friends, tomorrow, we celebrate THREE YEARS with our sweet Madeley James!

Three years of kisses.

Three years of hugs.

Three years of those cheeks.

Three years of family.

Three wonderful, wonderful, wonderful years.

We’ve been talking quite a bit lately about how much our lives have changed in the last three years.  We’ve been talking about birth moms, orphanages, China, love and how God can take people on opposite sides of the world and make them a family.

Madeley loves to watch the video of us meeting for the first time. I would say that almost every day she asks to watch it.  She always says the same thing “I cry because I not know you were my mommy”.  Sweet girl!  That’s exactly why she cried.  She was 23 months old and all of a sudden her whole life changed.  New people, new places, new language, new food, men (they said she hadn’t seen one before), animals (hadn’t seen one of those either!), airplane rides…her whole world was different within just minutes of meeting us.  And you know what?  OURS WAS TOO!!!

Madeley James Shull stole our hearts from the first minute.

She’s feisty.

She’s funny.

She’s cuddle-y.

She makes us laugh.

She makes us happy.

She really does make us a family.

Now that Madeley is almost five, she can really carry on genuine conversations with us.  One of them we had recently was about her “rocking” herself to sleep every time.  She takes turns sleeping with all three big kids each night and they asked her if she could please stop rocking herself to sleep (because it’s very aggressive rocking).  No matter how many times we’ve tried to rock her ourselves, pat her, cuddle her, tuck her in…she will always revert back to rocking.  So, the big kids asked her and this is what she said, “I have to rock.  When I was a baby, I not sleep, so Jesus told me to rock myself.”.

The air was sucked out of the room.

Andrew and I prayed so many times for her when we knew she was in the orphanage (even before we had a match, but just knew our baby was over there somewhere), and always asked Jesus to take care of her.  And according to Madeley, He did.

He did.

If you’re thinking about adoption, but it sounds scary, daunting, unfamiliar, confusing, hard and complicated, well, it is.  It is also beautiful.  It’s love.  It’s family.  If it’s on your heart, I do not believe it will ever go away.  It’s on there for a reason, friend.  Take that step of faith and go get your baby.  Boy, girl, domestic, international, young or old…I don’t know who your kiddo is, but I firmly believe God does and He wants you to be a family.

Madeley is amazing.

Adoption is amazing.

You are amazing and if God has it on your heart, do it.  I’m so blessed we did.

Happy three years, Madeley James!  You are more special than words could ever say. xo

Madeley’s Post Adoption: 2.5 Years

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: 4.5 Years

Ashby’s Gotcha Day {4 Year Anniversary}

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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  • Erika Slaughter September 10, 2019 at 4:45 am

    Oh sweet Madeley! Happy Happy THREE years, Sweet Girl! Madeley is such a blessing to everyone who knows her!
    We love her BIG in the Slaughter house! Why, oh why does she have to grow up? She called me, “Miss Erika” in the car yesterday and I might have corrected her and said, “Ya Ya”. hahaha!

  • Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog September 10, 2019 at 4:49 am

    Happy Early Gotcha Day to Madeley! Look how much she has grown! 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • Susan Jeffries September 10, 2019 at 5:13 am

    It has been such a blessing to watch your adoption stories!

  • Lauren September 10, 2019 at 5:14 am

    Oh Shay, I gasped out loud and put my hand over my heart when I read what Madeley said about rocking herself as a baby because Jesus told her to. What an amazing story of Jesus’ love that precious girl will have to share throughout her life!

  • Ahna @ Hammers N Hugs September 10, 2019 at 5:19 am

    Oh my heart!! Madeley, I’m giving you a big “cyber hug,” and I promise I won’t pinch those adorable cheeks. We are officially on the waiting list as of last week! I pray regularly that Jesus would make His presence known to our son, whomever he may be, and that His presence of peace would surround his bio mom and dad, that they would be at rest and not be afraid. Madeley, I bet you make Jesus smile too 🙂 You made my day!!

  • Tracie September 10, 2019 at 5:20 am

    Cue all the tears with the rocking story! Thank you Jesus for taking care of sweet Madeley in that way.

  • Beth Knecht September 10, 2019 at 5:21 am

    Oh my goodness! Goosebumps and tears this morning! How sweet!

  • Amanda September 10, 2019 at 5:24 am

    Hi Shay this is a beautiful post. Congrats to M and the family! My husband and I are seriously considering adoption, but we’re not religious. We don’t believe in God or Jesus. Will we have the same support system? I’m worried that all of the adoption agencies are faith based and cater to “believers”. Thanks!

    • Allison September 10, 2019 at 8:36 am

      Hi Amanda! My husband and I used CCAI for both of our adoptions in China. They are wonderful to work with. They work with families of all beliefs or non beliefs. I highly recommend them!

    • Monica September 10, 2019 at 10:18 am

      Hey Amanda! I know you said you don’t believe but I do and I would be happy to pray for you and your husband as you consider adoption if that would be okay. I mean every word of that with respect to you.

    • Christina September 10, 2019 at 12:40 pm

      Hi Amanda, Shay has set up an adoption facebook group, search for ‘Mix and Match Adoption Group’. There are a lot of conversations going on and lots of questions being asked and responded to all the time. That may be a great community to join if this is on your heart. Best of luck!

  • Amy DeVito September 10, 2019 at 5:36 am

    Happy gotcha day to Madeley and you and your family. It’s so precious what she said about not knowing you were her mommy and the rocking thing because Jesus told her too. SO sweet.

  • ann September 10, 2019 at 5:42 am

    I think the air will be sucked out of lots of rooms this morning as people read this. Happy gotcha day Madely! May Jesus always be your guide.

  • Narci September 10, 2019 at 5:55 am

    Madeley is so amazing. I love her and you guys!

  • Kim C September 10, 2019 at 6:00 am

    Happy Gotcha Day Madeley! ♥️
    Freaky coincidence — my cousin and his wife were in China at the exact same time 3 years ago adopting their little boy.

  • Alicia September 10, 2019 at 6:05 am

    Oh, Jesus. He WAS there. What a beautiful statement. My daughter was sitting next to me while I read this. She was adopted from China in 2017. She saw your girls and said” I want to say Hi. Please, I go say Hi?! My from China too!!!”
    So Hello from Maggie and Happy Gotcha Day sweet Madeley

  • Lillian Goodry September 10, 2019 at 6:09 am

    Sweet girl! We adopted from China about 3 years ago now too. Adoption is truly something that changes your life. We also have 3 bio kids and you can tell it changes their outlook on the world. Thank you so much for being out there and being a voice for those sweet faces that might not have one!

  • Kelly M Sites September 10, 2019 at 6:09 am

    Out of the mouth of little children……….so beautiful. God is good. May he take care and rock all the little children of the world who so badly need Him.

  • Melissa Terry September 10, 2019 at 6:13 am

    Your adoption posts are always my favorite! We are in the smack middle of our adoption process right now…the waiting and the paperwork and the emotion of it all is so daunting and this is exactly the reminder I needed this morning of our why. Thank you for sharing-I hope y’all have a wonderful day of celebration!

  • Elspeth September 10, 2019 at 6:48 am

    I remember reading your blog when you first got her, now here we are 3 years later. Happy Gotcha Day Madeley!!

  • Carly September 10, 2019 at 6:48 am

    Madeley has changed my life too. The first Instagram photo I saw of yours was the last family selfie of 5. I’ve been hooked and inspired every since. Happy Gotcha Day Madeley!

  • Susan McKain September 10, 2019 at 6:59 am

    What a beautiful post. Happy Gotcha Day to all of you.

  • Pamela September 10, 2019 at 7:04 am

    Thank you for sharing her with all of us. She is adorable and God is so very good!

  • Laura September 10, 2019 at 7:08 am

    And all the air was sucked out of my office when I read her precious comment. Thanks for sharing that!

  • Lesley McFarland September 10, 2019 at 7:11 am

    I have followed both of the girls adoption journeys and have been reading your blog for a long time. And it just seems these 2 precious girls have always been a Shull! So so sweet!

  • Paula Romer September 10, 2019 at 7:38 am

    Shay, What a beautiful post about your sunshine girl, Madeley. Thank you for sharing about your adoption journey. The sentence about Jesus telling her to rock herself… I literally stopped breathing for a minute… then started bawling. Our precious Jesus and His comforter the Holy Spirit comforts us and ministers to us in ways we don’t even realize. He is a good, good Father. The Lord always had your baby girl in the palm of His hand. I’m a long time reader—I found your links through Sean’s dating adventure… and I’ve been reading ever since. Your my first morning blog with my cup of coffee. You are a bright and encouraging spot in my morning! Keep sharing life and being YOU!

  • Brandi Greer September 10, 2019 at 7:53 am

    I love to hear about your adoption stories. We adopted our little girl 6 years ago next month from China. Our little girl bangs her head to go to sleep. She doesn’t do it as often but I just hate it. It’s so sad that they developed these habits that helped soothe them to sleep in the orphanage. Happy Gotcha sweet girl!!

  • Marissa Hester September 10, 2019 at 8:00 am

    Such a sweet girl and lucky family! Just FYI (and to hopefully make you feel better), my first born (now 8) vigorously rocks herself to sleep and has since she was a baby. She would only sleep in her swing for the first weeks of her life, and wouldn’t sleep while I rocked her – that was playtime. One time I made my husband come with me to the doctor because I was so concerned, and my husband described it ‘like the kids in Romanian orphanages’ and I burst into tears. The doctor said she just needs more vestibular stimulation, but I STILL ask her if she needs me to cuddle with her.

  • Amanda @ Cupcake N dreams September 10, 2019 at 8:07 am

    Aww you can see the light that is Madeley in all of her pictures! That story just brought a tear to my eye. So glad you all have each other!

    Amanda @ Cupcake N Dreams

  • Shelbie Fitch September 10, 2019 at 8:22 am

    I forgot how small she was when you got her. She’s such a grown up little girl now!!! Beautiful! Thanks for sharing your life with us. I have tears in my eyes reading this. She is precious and God is so good!

  • Tracy September 10, 2019 at 8:27 am

    She is darling! How precious to know that Jesus was there with her when you couldn’t be! Gives me chills! 🙂

  • Anna September 10, 2019 at 8:28 am

    I definitely teared up when you were telling the story of Madeley rocking herself! God is so good, and he was absolutely taking care of her every day until she met her forever family!! And he still is!

  • Dianna September 10, 2019 at 8:32 am

    Oh my goodness that rocking story made my heart swell and tears well up. What a sweet blessing to your family and a lucky little girl to be so loved.

  • Nicole DiDonato September 10, 2019 at 8:40 am

    Oh my God. Chills!!!! Amazing story.

  • Janie September 10, 2019 at 8:42 am

    My heart is melting ! Thanks for sharing Madeley’s journey with us !

  • Laura A. September 10, 2019 at 8:48 am

    Ah! The tears!! Such a beautiful representation of God’s love for us! <3

  • Elizabeth September 10, 2019 at 8:51 am

    Precious!!! She brings such JOY!

  • Sandra Olden September 10, 2019 at 9:06 am

    Oh my. Jesus cared so much for her. Rock on sweet Madeley. Your smile always brightens my day.

  • Keisha Dawson September 10, 2019 at 9:06 am

    Her rocking story brings all the tears! God is so GOOD!

  • Sheaffer Sims September 10, 2019 at 9:07 am

    This girl had such big shoes to fill following Miss Ashby, BUT MY GOODNESS SHE’S ROCKED IT. Love this girl so much.

  • Andrea Hooper September 10, 2019 at 9:23 am

    I have read your blog since Sean was the bachelor. You picked up Ashby the same day our daughter was born and I read it in the hospital! But this story of Jesus comforting and speaking to Madeley when she was just a baby is so So special. He loves us so much and speaks to babies even in the womb. I can’t remember the reference but I love the verse and how good Jesus is to us.

  • Kathy September 10, 2019 at 9:24 am

    What an amazing 3 years! I love reading all about your adoptions. The explanation Madeley gave about rocking herself to sleep is absolutely beautiful!

  • Yolanda McLean September 10, 2019 at 9:43 am

    Oh Jesus telling to rock herself – I’m dead! We adopted our seven year old daughter last year and I know the first year of her life was traumatic – she was left hungry, thirst, dirty, etc. I’m mindful of some things she does to self soothe and if she ever tells me that she’s hungry – I jump. I never want her to feel without again. Happy Gotcha Day sweet Madeley! We sure love watching you grow!!

  • Heather September 10, 2019 at 9:47 am

    He is always there, Indeed! What a beautiful testimony Little Miss M will have one day! It just goes to show that He hears us from all walks of life. Happy Gotcha Day to Madeley and the Shull Six!!

  • Kayla B September 10, 2019 at 9:55 am

    Love, love the adoption posts. I think they are my very favorite. Tears running down my cheeks as she said Jesus was with her. Blessings on Madeley and all of you!

  • Kelly Brick September 10, 2019 at 9:59 am

    Your adoption stories are some of my favorite. It is a privilege to get to see God building families in your stories. I can’t imagine how scary it had to be for Ashby and Madeley when they left the orphanage. I’m also amazed at how well your big kids have opened their arms and accepted and loved their new sisters, it really is beautiful. Thank you for always being open and sharing these stories and updates.

  • Shana September 10, 2019 at 10:22 am

    Wow, beautiful post about your sweet girl! It made me cry during my lunch break.

  • Sarah September 10, 2019 at 10:24 am

    Ah, I’m not crying, you’re crying 😭. Sweet Madeleine girl! What a powerful statement. ❤️❤️

    • Sarah September 10, 2019 at 10:25 am

      ***Madeley. 💕 Autocorrect fail.

  • Taylor September 10, 2019 at 10:27 am

    I read your blog every morning at work, and have been a faithful reader since Smith was a tiny toddler! I just read the paragraph about her rocking herself to sleep out loud to the 3 men that I work closest with, and we were all just stunned to silence. Her telling you that Jesus told her to rock herself made me weeeeep! And it gave me goosebumps. What a precious, precious girl and what a redeeming and loving savior we have. Your blog blesses me each and everyday and I am thankful for the bright shining light that you Shulls all are for Jesus.

  • Lauren West September 10, 2019 at 10:29 am

    Oh Shay! The rocking comment just took by breath away. Praise God for that sweet girl & that you all heeded the call to go get her!

  • Megan September 10, 2019 at 10:31 am

    Her words took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes!!!

  • Melanie M. September 10, 2019 at 10:32 am

    This post should have come with a “tears” warning, LOL. I am a video relay interpreter and was reading it while on hold and when I got to the “Jesus told me to rock”, I had to quickly think of something else to prevent the tears from streaming down my face while the deaf caller was looking at me. Happy 3 year “gotcha day” to Madeley! Thanks Shay for giving us a peak into your beautiful family. I enjoy your blog so much.

  • Brooke Richardson September 10, 2019 at 11:04 am

    We just can’t imagine not knowing sweet Madeley! She has grown so much in every way since becoming a SHULL!!!

  • Angela Ellingson September 10, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    All the happy tears! What a little blessing Madeley is!

  • Dena September 10, 2019 at 12:28 pm

    Ok, so now I’m sitting here at work, crying over my lunch. What a powerful testimony! Happy Gotcha Day Madeley! 🙂

  • Stefany September 10, 2019 at 12:47 pm

    Love this, Thank you for sharing. Happy 3 year Gothcha day to Madeley!!! God is good!!! ❤️

  • Amanda September 10, 2019 at 1:02 pm

    This is my favorite post ever. How incredibly precious.

  • Julie September 10, 2019 at 1:13 pm

    Such a beautiful post! She is the perfect addition to your family!
    Quick question-on the nap mat you use for her, did you get the memory foam?
    Thank you!

  • September 10, 2019 at 1:16 pm

    The air was just sucked out of me and tears came rolling. How sweet, sweet Madeley! I love this story so much and your story of adoption is very close to my heart. I love that she is yours! Thank you for always sharing Shay!

  • Maureen September 10, 2019 at 1:27 pm

    Congratulations. What a wonderful event to celebrate.
    Beautiful little girl. Beautiful older siblings. Beautiful family.
    My sister has a gotcha day for her daughter–now 16 yrs old. My niece was just a few weeks over 1 yr old. It was Mother’s Day. Can not imagine life without my niece.

  • Courtney September 10, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    Crying while reading this. Wow! Jesus told her to rock herself—sweet baby! You have a beautiful family, Shay! Thanks for sharing your stories with us.

  • Kathy Roe September 10, 2019 at 1:35 pm

    Out of the mouths of babes. How precious! But it breaks my heart to know these sweet babies have to self-soothe themselves. I would adopt them all if I could. No one deserves not to be loved by a family. Madeley (and Ashby) are lucky little girls to have be a part of the Shull family!

  • Becky Carl September 10, 2019 at 1:38 pm

    Oh my….I can’t tell you how much this story about Jesus rocking Madeley touched my heart. I just turned 64 years old and have actually thought how beautiful it would be to adopt one of these children. My husband thinks I am insane and so would my adult children if they ever knew. My 2 adult sons are not married and have already expressed no children. How crazy is it for me to think about adopting as a grandchild and taking care of them as long as I can until the boys could take over for me? It’s unheard of I’m sure but I would be awesome at loving that child! I continue to pray for my son’s hearts to change as they have no idea of the joy of children. God bless your sweet family.

    • Mix and Match Mama September 10, 2019 at 2:23 pm

      Oh Becky! I just love your heart so much!!

  • Brooke September 10, 2019 at 2:31 pm

    I’m sitting outside in Atlanta, it’s 98°, and I got cold chills when I read “Jesus told me to rock!” What a special story that little girl has to share with the world!!

  • Sheila DeSpirito September 10, 2019 at 3:28 pm

    Oh My Gosh! out of the mouths of babes! She has grown leaps and bounds, I remember when you went to china to adopt her. thank you for sharing not only Madely but your whole family. I LOVe your blog posts.

  • Sarah DeWald September 10, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    I’m totally not crying in Starbucks right now! Happy 3 years with your forever family!!

  • Charlotte September 10, 2019 at 4:02 pm

    Don’t mind me crying on the train reading how she responded to rocking.

  • Rebecca September 10, 2019 at 5:18 pm

    Oh my that sweet little Madeley! What she said just touched my heart today & oh did I need it today! ❤️

  • Jeanie Herkomer September 10, 2019 at 6:09 pm

    Oh, my heart! God told her to rock herself.

  • Kelly September 10, 2019 at 8:03 pm

    😢 this brought chills and tears to my eyes!! The sweetest, thanks for sharing!

  • Lindsay D. September 10, 2019 at 8:50 pm

    I’m so glad I read this post today!! When she said Jesus told her to rock herself…It basically knocked the wind out of me. How powerful!! Thanks for sharing that with us!!

  • Debra Dunbar September 10, 2019 at 8:56 pm

    Such a precious story!

  • Sarah September 10, 2019 at 9:03 pm

    Literally have tears streaming down my face!!! That sweet sweet girl! ❤️

  • Kat Hood September 10, 2019 at 10:11 pm

    I’m bawling over baby Madeley hearing a Jesus! God is soooo good.

  • Sonia Limon September 11, 2019 at 7:48 am

    Happy Gotcha Day to your whole family! Your posts literally make my day!!! God is good all the time and ALL the time, God is good!

  • Vy G September 11, 2019 at 8:23 am

    I got super teary eyed reading about how Jesus told her to rock. She’s such a blessing!

  • Lori Reggio September 11, 2019 at 12:15 pm

    what a beautiful post. God Bless your family!

  • Nancy September 11, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    Jesus is so good! Happy 3 years!

  • Liz September 13, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    “I have to rock. When I was a baby, I not sleep, so Jesus told me to rock myself.” I read this and got choked up big time. So glad the lord brought you all together. Thank you Jesus.