100 days with my daughter

We waited 103 days for our official approval letter from China to adopt Little One. The average wait is 30-60 days. (That was the wait for one letter, not the whole adoption process…that was 15 months). So to us, our wait felt so very long. We got one update during that time. For those long months, I studied every little detail of this photo and 2 others:

I also scoured sources to find out as much information as I could about her orphanage. The more I researched, the deeper I hurt. Those were very dark months for me. If you read this blog back then or knew me in person – you probably noticed. I am pretty sure I had all my close friends and family worried about me. I lost a lot of weight during the wait. When I held Little One for the first time, I weighed what I did in 8th grade. My hope was in the Lord and I was pleading with Him to protect my daughter when I could not. So many prayers I prayed over her in those days. So many tears poured out because my little girl was an ocean away and I could do absolutely nothing to get to her. The clouds of darkness seemed to overwhelm.

On day 100 of that wait, I decided to make a list of 100 things I looked forward to when she came home.

It was a way to take my eyes off the hurt of separation and look with hope to the future.

Today is our 100th day together!

That list of 100 things has almost all been checked off already.

People tend to say stuff about her restoration and healing. I smile, but what they don’t always know is she has brought restoration and healing to me. Moments after we got her, I texted the following picture to family from China. Nearly everyone commented that is was so good to see me really smile again. She was in my arms. I was back – healed, restored and changed. I also ate my weight’s worth in dumplings that night.

 

Today I celebrate 100 days together and almost 100 dreams fulfilled….

…still waiting on those in black.

  1. Hearing her giggle for the first time.
  2. Feeling her body in my arms.
  3. Tracing the outline of her face with my finger.
  4. Listening to her daddy sing over her.
  5. Watching her big sister smother her in love.
  6. Sitting at the dinner table and looking around to see all my kids together.
  7. Waking up to her next to me.
  8. Playing “this little piggie” with her toes.
  9. Seeing diapers in the house again.
  10. Baby bibs.
  11. Sneaking in to watch her wake up from a nap.
  12. Whispering a million “I love you”s in her ears.
  13. Kissing her gloriously perfect lips.
  14. Breathing in the moment she is in my arms and recognizes it as a safe place.
  15. Watching her learn to crawl.
  16. Watching her oldest brother go to great lengths to entertain her.
  17. Comforting her when she doesn’t feel well.
  18. Loading five kids into the car.
  19. Introducing her to toys and lots of color.
  20. Capturing her with my camera.
  21. Picking up cheerios she drops on the floor.
  22. Helping her find her voice.
  23. Praying over her in person, not a world away.
  24. Watching her brothers go into protective mode over her.
  25. Introducing her to foods other than rice cereal.
  26. Rocking her to sleep.
  27. Hearing 10 little feet scamper together across the wood floor.
  28. Sitting on a blanket under the backyard sycamore with two little girls.
  29. Tucking her in at night.
  30. Helping her adjust to 4 adoring older siblings.
  31. Learning every part of her in person, not in pictures.
  32. Seeing her big sister cover her in blankets.
  33. Sweaty post-nap hair.
  34. Listening from the other room  to her and her siblings.
  35. Little dresses.
  36. The first time she says “Mama”…and it means me.
  37. Comforting her when she hurts.
  38. Her first light saber battle.
  39. Seeing a smitten daddy with her in his arms.
  40. Five kids piled on my bed on Saturday mornings.
  41. Watching her big sister act as a little momma.
  42. Hiking with her in the ergo carrier.
  43. Going to bed at night knowing she has been fed.
  44. Introducing her to all the little critters outside.
  45. Her smile.
  46. Wiping away her tears.
  47. Bouncing on the trampoline with her.
  48. Bed times stories.
  49. Running my fingers through her beautiful dark black hair.
  50. Tickle induced laughs.
  51. Holding her hand.
  52. Sitting on the front porch as the sun sets with her by my side.
  53. Watching her brothers teach her the proper way to hold a foam sword.
  54. Seeing Chris manage to dance with two little girls.
  55. Finding out if she is like her brothers and likes mud, or more like her sister and doesn’t.
  56. Watching her watch her siblings.
  57. Getting to say “Girls………”
  58. Teaching her security.
  59. Showing her safety.
  60. Learning what she likes.
  61. Learning what she doesn’t like.
  62. Celebrating the beauty that is her.
  63. Picnic lunches with her in my lap.
  64. Reminding FireCracker that I am the mom.
  65. Knowing her needs are being met.
  66. Pouring seven drinks instead of six.
  67. Exhaustion from keeping up with 5 kids.
  68. Not having to say “no” every morning when her 4 yr old brother asks if it is time to go get her.
  69. Getting a front row seat as she discovers a beautiful world.
  70. Helping her through the difficult days of transition.
  71. Breathing in her smell.
  72. When she is ready, introducing her to friends.
  73. Slow days at home as a family of 7.
  74. Watching her thrive.
  75. Little girls splashing in the bath tub (if she adjusts well to baths).
  76. Holding her in my lap as she learns to stand.
  77. Whispering blessings over her as she falls asleep.
  78. Celebrating holidays together.
  79. Listening to her laugh at her goofy brothers.
  80. Butterfly kisses.
  81. Saying her name in her presence.
  82. The day she is at ease enough with me to rest on my chest.
  83. Seeing her little legs wrapped around her daddy’s neck as he carries her.
  84. Surviving jet lag together.
  85. When she learns to clap in delight.
  86. Watching her from across a room.
  87. Discovering her silly side.
  88. Movie nights with 5 kids squeezed under blankets on the couch.
  89. Watching FireCracker as a big sister.
  90. Introducing her to her anxiously awaiting grandparents and extended family.
  91. Piggietails – if she’ll have them.
  92. Knowing our family is together.
  93. Snuggling cheek to cheek.
  94. Celebrating Chinese culture and history as part of our family.
  95. Twirling in the front yard.
  96. Looking at the photos on the wall and seeing her  in them with her siblings.
  97. Discovering her personality.
  98. Mundane normal life…with her here.
  99. Not waking up wondering if she be held that day, but being the one to hold her.
  100. Going to sleep knowing she is home.

 

And though the pain is an ocean

Tossing us around, around, around

You have calmed greater waters

Higher mountains have come down

I will sing of Your mercy

That leads me through valleys of sorrow

To rivers of joy*

* The Valley Song, by Jars of Clay

 

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  • Nina von Butterzart - You are looking wonderful together!

    Love!

    Nina

  • Sadie - Bawling like a baby here. I can’t imagine the joy she has brought to your life. Heck, she has brought joy to my life and I haven’t even met her. That smile kills me. There is just something about it that makes me smile more than I normally do. This post is just about the most precious post ever. Thank you for sharing Ashley.

  • Natalie, the Chickenblogger - By way of your blog, through your story…
    you have brought a lot of us to ~rivers of joy~
    Isn’t it wonderful, not only to have her safe in your care, to be enjoying her in your lives, but to have the healing confirmation
    of all that grace, as you look back and see what was overcome?
    This post makes me happy.

  • angie webb - And now I’m crying. Beautiful words. Always.

  • Megan - Beautiful!

  • Erin C. - Crying from your beautiful update! How glorious! How great is our Lord! Praying for the day my family can walk this journey, too. Hopefully, with a shorter weight time. ;)

  • RachelC - Wow…totally crying in my raisin bran right now. Such a reminder of the tumultuous journey. Brings back so many memories and conversations with you. Number 99 nearly did me in. A blessing for sure. And, I totally get what you mean by bringing home Little One bringing restoration to you. Miraculous love. Miraculous. Love.

  • Ginna - What a beautiful, beautiful testimony to the love you have and the joy that she brings you and your family. Thank you so much for sharing — I always am encouraged everytime I read your posts. xo

  • Stefanie - You have captured – so poignantly – the restorative beauty of adoption. Thank you for sharing your heart so transparently… you are such a blessing to so many :)

  • Sarah M - This is so wonderful! What a precious things those first 100 days (and that list!) are. Many, many more to come. God bless your family.
    Sarah M

  • mandi@herbanhomestead - oh gracious…that last picture. Love seeing the two of you delight in one another!

  • katie R. - Oh Ashley…this is beautiful. Its always so difficult to see before and during…but afterwards God’s healing and restoration is so so beautiful. Thank you for sharing this journey. We had a miscarriage this summer and seem to still be picking up the pieces from that and stand unsure when we may have one little one of our own. This gives me hope…hope to hold on. Hope to, well, to have hope. It does my heart so much good to see your joy!!!

  • Allison - Beautiful post. the tears are flowing…..happy tears.

  • Jess - thank you. so raw, pure, real. bless you

  • Kimberly - Ashley, this is such a beautiful post. I’ve read your blog for a while now & remember when you were waiting for news on your “Little One”. I smile thru happy tears this morning but, oh my goodness, that pic of the two of you on day one just did me in … God bless you & your sweet family. Merry Christmas!

  • KatieM - Beautiful!

  • Jenny @ Words On Wendhurst - I cannot tell you how many times I have cried tears of happiness for you and Little One. Your story has just stolen a piece of my heart and I am so thankful that you have shared your journey with us. Little One is beautiful and so blessed to have you as her mama!

  • Jenni - Isn’t it crazy. Just one one moment, the second you saw her, you were okay. The truest and most real moments. If I can close my eyes I can can remember the first time I saw all of my kids. I mean really remember. I can’t even imagine what you went through those months. I’m impressed that through I all every day I read, you inspired me. It is such a blessing to see all of you with her but I think my favorite part is her smile. It is overflowing with joy. That picture of her a couple days ago maybe with the white dress and the smile so big it almost sends her back in the leaves! Lol. So thankful that you share what you do!!

  • Anna Vollmer - Brought tears to my eyes. I have a million hormones running through my system (because I’m expecting) but I know I would have teared up on any given day after reading that list. It’s beautiful, and has inspired me to make a list of my own. Thank you.

  • Lynn - Beautiful !!

  • Jen - I’m sitting here in a coffee shop crying over my bagel. That was beautiful. You’ll need to make a new list of 100 things to enjoy! Such a short time together already filled with so many memories.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Crying happy, happy, happy tears.

  • Heather - I’m over here crying like a baby!! I cried as soon as I read “the first time she says mama… and it means me.” It will be soon. i can tell in the pictures she is so happy and loved by everyone! What a lucky and blessed little girl. You are incredibly blessed to have 5 beautiful children!

  • April - Thanks so much for sharing your life with us, and being so open and authentic about your feelings. It’s a blessing and an honor to read your posts. They have touched me in so many ways. Now if I could only learn to NOT read them at work… you make me cry…OFTEN…

  • Mareen - Beautiful post.

    One one hand i can’t believe it is already 100 days but on the other hand it seems like little one is home for so much longer.

    I have been following your blog for very long now and I followed your adoption story. I always felt with you when you wrote about how hurt you were during the waiting time. Glad you are back to your happy self. Life as a family of 7 must be wonderful.

  • Kisha - I read your blog every morning before I go to work. Towards the end of your adoption I brought my mascara with me because I knew I would cry and I didn’t want to be all smeary. Just when I thought it was safe to put it on early again you make me cry, in the best way. So happy for you and your family!

  • Ryan - I have GOT to start reading your blog in the evenings from home. My coworkers probably think I’m crazy, sitting here crying again! :) I was fine until the picture at the end.

  • tara - i cried when i read your first 100 days post and now i’m crying reading this one! thank you so much for sharing your amazing journey! this post makes me smile!

  • Amy - I’m so happy she is home with you, such a loving a wonderful family. Gosh that picture of you holding her for the first time makes me cry everytime I see it. So many emotions going on there. She is so sweet and so beautiful.

  • Michelle - Ash,
    Seeing your amount of strength through your dark days was inspirational.

  • Jen - So beautiful. Happy 100 days!!!

  • Kara M - Ashley, you bring us all to tears once again. The picture from day one is one of my favorite pictures. It is what I love about photography. Capturing one moment that tells a huge story. I think that one picture shows the pain, suffering, and joy of adoption. BUT I love it next to month 3. Together they really tell the story. The brokeness, healing, and wholeness that our Lord takes us through in adoption!

  • Teresa - I love how you soak it all in. I can’t to see those pig tails!

  • Crystal - Absolutely Beautiful! So great to see you and your family complete and happy!

  • tristin - I have never commented here before, but i heard a song on the radio this morning that reminded me SO much of you that I knew i had to finally take the leap :o)

    Have you heard Third Day’s “Merry Christmas” song? If not you should listen to it. here are the lyrics:

    There’s a little girl trembling on a cold December morn
    Crying for momma’s arms
    At an orphanage just outside a little China town
    There the forgotten are

    But half a world away I hang the stockings by the fire
    And dream about the day when I can finally call you mine

    It’s Christmas time again but you’re not home
    Your family is here and yet you’re somewhere else alone
    And so tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in his arms
    And tell you from my heart I wish you Merry Christmas

    As I hang the tinsel on the tree and watch the twinkling lights
    I’m warmed by the fire’s glow
    Outside the children tumble in a wonderland of white,
    Make angels in the snow

    But half a world away you try your best to fight the tears
    And hope that heaven’s angels come to carry you here

    It’s Christmas time again but you’re not home
    Your family is here and yet you’re somewhere else alone
    And so tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in his arms
    And tell you from my heart I wish you Merry Christmas

    Christmas is a time to celebrate the holy child
    And we celebrate his perfect gift of love
    He came to earth to give his life
    And prepare a place for us
    So we could have a home with him above

    It’s Christmas time again and now you’re home
    Your family is here so you will never be alone
    So tonight before you go to sleep, I’ll hold you in my arms
    And I’ll tell you from my heart, and I’ll you from my heart
    I wish you Merry Christmas

  • Cara - Ashley, after reading this beautiful post I had to reread the one where you first met her! Lovely way to start the day!

  • Jess - Wow. What a sweet post. Your little one is so strikingly gorgeous and it warms my heart to read this post. Congratulations on 100 days of your home filled with 5 little children it’s a beautiful blessing!

  • Kristin S - Ashley, this is so, so beautiful.

    I’m sharing with other friends “in the waiting”.

  • Cristy - A tear-jerker! Your journey of bringing Little One home is such an inspiration. I LOVE LOVE LOVE those last two photos.

  • merideth a. - beautiful!! makes me so happy to see her in your arms.

  • Lindsay Redd - Beautiful!

  • Debbie C - Life is good, and life is beautiful. So blessed to read this!

  • karen - omg…those last pictures brought me to tears!!

  • jessica - i cry every time i read about your adoption story! thank you for sharing.

  • Susan - Love to see her growing and your family thriving with her. May God give you joyous days as you prepare to celebrate Christmas together.

  • Tara - Looking at the pictures and reading your beautiful description of the past year’s events.. I see just how much an adoption is so much like prenancy and childbirth.. The months of anticipating, when will we get a “positive” (waiting for approval and a match) the waiting, and worrying, and more waiting…. You mentioned you lost weight.. many mothers do during the weeks on end of morning sickness… the exhaustion of travel.. more waiting… labor. Finally that look of ectasy when that long awated little one is finally laid on your chest… (as in your day one pic) thank your for sharing your “birth story” God bless you and your precious family.

  • barnicles - so much love.

    im crying at work reading this. Your blog and little one brings me so much joy .
    Educated me so much and I wish one day to be as giving as you and have such a beautiful family.

    Barnicles x

  • amber - Amazing. Happy 100 days & many, many, many more to come! Thankful for your story.

  • Esther from A Lovely State of Mind - Beautiful post, tearing up at work! What a lovely, loving family that’s been put together just the way He meant for it. XOXO

  • Linnea - Wow. those last pictures are SO powerful! It has been so fun to see your new family :)

  • Jill C - The picture of the two of you on day 1 is so precious. I love seeing this beautiful little girl come to life in your home. What an amazing experience for you! I have adopted once domestically, and we have always talked about the possibility of adopting internationally, particularly China. You’ve given me hope. I love to read your updates on “Little One’s” progress, and absolutely love seeing pictures of her siblings just eat her up. Thank you so much for sharing the experience with all of us readers. You have a very special gift.

  • Jennie - beautiful. thank you…

    we are waiting for a foster placement, looking to what God has in store, longing for a little one to fill our arms, and even saving as we can in case God leads us to a little one that is farther away.

    trusting He has a good plan. knowing he sets the lonely in families.

  • Ellie - The little one looks healed on the outside, but if you look in her eyes there is trust, love, and security. She must really feel and know that where she is IS home. A placec where people love her. If you look at the first pictures she looks depressed and unsure. It is amazing how a little love goes a long way. She gets so much love, she must be overflowing. you have such a beautiful daughter. Because of your blog I have decided to adopt one day, too!

  • maggie may - sweet, sweet online blogging friend…oh my gracious. i read every single post…and you make me cry almost every time. what a beautiful, sweet girl you have there.
    people always tell us that our four boys are lucky to have parents like us, like we rescued them or something…but what they don’t understand is what a blessing our sons are to US… God used fostering and adoption to show my husband and i His great love in such deep, rich ways.
    i love that you are getting to enjoy your newest daughter in person.
    and PS: i ordered THREE, yes THREE of those beautiful prints from your sis. i am so excited. thanks for posting about those! my friends are going to love their Christmas presents this year!!

  • Margo - Thank you so much for sharing with us!! I am rejoicing with you and will continue to pray for your family on this journey.

  • Jacci in Ohio - Well, you know this post just makes me feel & think again what I’ve already shared in your comments. I got to #5 before I had to look down at my bowl of ravioli to keep from bawling. Lots of thankfulness. Lots of praise. Lots of wonder at the gracious works of God.

    And also… I really, really, really like you :)

  • Nicole - This is going by very quickly. And I am loving every second of it.

  • Kimberly Troth - BEAUTIFUL!! CONGRATS on 100 days! That did NOT take as long as the waiting game did. I read your blog daily and so HAPPY to see you all as a family of SEVEN :)

  • Kerry - …and there was much rejoicing!

  • Sophi Belle - Tears. Sadness tears. Then happy tears.

    She is finally with you. Praise the Lord!

    God bless you and your family!!

  • Jordana - Hi Ashley!

    I ran across your blog recently and have been enjoying it so much. My husband and I are in the waiting stage of an Ethiopian adoption right now … and wait times just got extended again. I was wondering, how did your adoption go so quickly? We’re definitely not jumping ship on our adoption, but I’m wondering whether God is trying to get our attention and maybe direct us to a different route … or whether he’s trying to teach us patience. :) Anyway, if you have a moment to give me any advice or insights, I would much appreciate it. Thanks!

  • Amanda - It’s been an incredible journey to watch and it’s amazing how happy, fulfilled moments fly by so much faster than when we’re in wanton and need.
    Thank you for sharing your story with us, and God Bless your beautiful family :)

  • Christina C - Such a beautiful post! She is such a lucky girl to have you as her mama!

  • Tracy a - That picture of the two of you crying…burst into tears myself–again! 100 days of wonderful, and only a few things left undone. God is good indeed!

  • Katerina - Thank You!

  • Shannon - I just loved this post; thank you so much for sharing! Right now I’m where you were then…sad, hurting, missing my boy (another cl/cp baby!) like crazy. I love your list and think I may just have to make one myself! It’s good to see from you what’s at the end of the wait…amazing healing and great joy! :)

  • Jessica P - Beautiful. I love the 2 contrasting pictures at the end. Both beautiful, but the joy in the second one is amazing! Plus I love the idea of Little One in a light saber battle. Hahaha.

  • MJ Berman - I have to stop reading this blog. Or maybe you should post a “will cause a river of tears” notice at the beginning of your posts… seeing that last picture of you both on day 1 was a humbling moment – one I along with countless others are honored to be a small part of… be blessed :)

  • Andy - WONDERFUL

  • Lyn - Beautiful

  • meg duerksen - i miss that sweet baby. i need to come see her. SOON! you could not love her more than you already do! she is such a blessed little girl. and so are you!

  • liz - this is amazingly beautiful. so thrilled for you and your family of 7! God is so good!

  • Hannah - Every time you write about getting your daughter you bring tears to my eyes. It is so heart breakingly beautiful. Thank you for pouring your heart out here. Thank you for giving us a glimpse into your beautiful world. Thank you for showing her beautiful smile.

  • Erica - The ‘day 1′ picture…your bawling face…so stunning. It’s the look you see on all mother’s faces when they are handed their babies for the first time. The culmination of sooo much love becoming real to the touch. beautiful.

  • AshleyAnn - Jordana – that was the wait just for one letter. The whole process took about 15 months. Once we accepted her referral, China had to approve our accepting the referral. Waiting just for that acceptance is what took 103 days.

  • Vanessa - So. Truly. Good. How GREAT is God?! How AWESOME are you?! Thank you again for sharing your story.

    I’ve found it very remarkable to watch Little One’s expression in her eyes change from Day 1 until now. Her eye say so much- everyone’s eyes do- and it’s been wonderful to see the spark and twinkle emerge from those dark pools!

  • Karen - I am sitting at the computer crying (again) while reading you blog today. I try hard not to miss any, today really got to me. You have a great family with heaps of love to go around. Sending you more from Brisbane Australia. It has been a great journey. I want photos of the light saber battle when it happens please, and the pigtails will happen. Looking forward to the next 100 days.

  • Sarah - Crying now. Beautiful post. Thanks for sharing your journey with us!

  • Kim - Rejoicing and giving all the praise and glory to our Lord for restoration…
    of yourself
    of Little One
    of your family.
    Blessings!

  • Jen - Thank you for sharing your life so full of beauty, love and the sweet reflection of God’s blessings through adoption!

  • Jenni - Beautiful! Tearing up again…If only everyone in the world was as passionate and compassionate as you!

  • Crystal P - Love this!!! All the things on your list were fantastic….I can only imagine how many more you added to the list as you walked through those days up to her arrival!

    So happy for 100 days!!! Huge celebration and mile stone!!

    God bless :)

  • Midwest Magnolia - Melissa Lewis - God is so good. Adoption is the gospel. Your blogs helps so many people hear the gospel Ashley and know God’s love in such a special way. So thankful I found your crafty blog and ended up being blessed beyond belief.

    However…girl you gotta way of making people bawl!!!!! I gotta remember to start reading your blog AFTER my husband leaves for work so he doesn’t worry about me all day:)

    And I can’t wait (praying) to be able to share post like this on my blog as we are going through the process, not just afterwards!

  • Rachel - I recently came across your blog, and am so happy I did. You are inspiring. The picture of “day 1″ speaks volumes. It brought tears to my eyes and took my breath away, but most importantly, it puts my life into perspective. Thank you so much. Big hugs to you.

  • Debbie - I love reading about your adoption story. Little One has the best mom—the one God intended for her.

  • Paige - I love this! I love it! Babies with forever mommies always warms my heart. God bless you Ashley. hugs.

  • Stephanie - your world is so full of joy. it is so beautiful to watch as your lives and all the love unfolds. i can not stop thinking about how happy Little One is and i always wonder if she has an emotional memory of happiness, of realizing how beautiful life is and how blessed she is to have you open her eyes to it. thank you for giving her a life so full of love that allows her to smile soooo big!

  • heather - This is so beautiful. God is so good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Cory - REJOICE!

    I’m so thankful for your heart & your words. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us! I’m am always so blessed by you!

  • Molly - and all she will remember is how much you love her!!!!

  • molly june. - gulp. you get me with these. that first picture…to now. so so beautiful.

  • Sadee Schilling - Loved seeing your list of 100 things…so amazing that most of them are already crossed off! I wonder, did the first 100 days with her go by faster than the 100 days of waiting for your approval letter?

    Oh man, I read the lyrics that someone posted of the Third Day “Merry Christmas” song…had to stop halfway through. Can’t take the ache of just imagining that hurt! The story of your family is so inspiring Ashley! Thank you for being so honest about it–difficult parts and all. I think there’s an adoption story in the future of my family too, and I know I will be better prepared just having followed yours.

  • Kirra Sue - Ashley this made me cry. I cannot believe how good God is. And how real pain is. And how beautiful it is when God works through suffering.

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