a year ago today

Today marks one year since we became a family of seven.  It was a day full of beauty for us, but a bittersweet beauty. While we gained a daughter, we also recognized the great loss she faced on that day. It was a beautiful day and a broken day. A day I will forever treasure and a day I will continue to shed many tears over. I can’t put to words how one day can be so full of joy and so full of pain. Such great gain and such immense loss. To feel my daughter, finally in my arms, and to feel her brokeness and loss at the same time – it will always break me.

Because there is beauty in remembering and joy in hindsight….here is the post I wrote last year, on this day.

August 27, 2012 ~ Guangzhou, China

We had all morning to kill time. We weren’t meeting our guide until 2:00pm.

The boys worked on their travel journals. We skyped their brother and sister back at home. The first thing FireCracker wanted to know is if I had her sister.
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Then we headed to a new market street. I needed to buy rice cereal. The boys wanted buy flowers for their new sister. I just wanted to keeping moving.
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So many distractions should have helped, but I kept thinking about our daughter. Was she on her way to Guangzhou? Was she coming via a van or the public coach? How did her day begin? Was she scared of all the new sights? Was she excited by the change of scenery and new faces? Was she at peace? Was she okay?
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The boys found a kitten to photograph…and got a lot of smiles and laughs from locals.
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Our hotel is in a modern area full of lots of big nice hotels and shops. But, this is the part of China I enjoy the most. Little alleys full of life and people.
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We found the rice cereal, a cold Sprite, flowers and some Oreos for the boys. Then headed back to the hotel, where I uploaded these photos as a distraction.

2 hours to kill.

National Geographic animal shows on the tv.

Dumplings for lunch for Chris. I couldn’t eat.

The hotel staff rolled in a crib.

Freaked out.

Boiled some water for Little One’s bottle (told she drinks them piping hot).
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Clock moving slower than a turtle.

My heart racing faster than a rabbit.

Stomach in knots.

And then it was time to head to the lobby to meet Helen, our guide.

Deep breath. A hundred deep breaths.

And we left the hotel.

Got in a van.

Arrived at a government building and waited.

Then my oldest said, “I see her. She’s right there!” Sure enough she had just walked past us in her nanny’s arms and back into a little room. Not at all what I envisioned as the moment I would first behold my daughter. It happened so fast…there she was…and then she was gone.

And we waited.
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Our name was called and they brought her out.
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I was so worried about her. So scared for her. The minute her tears started so did mine. I was hurting for her….
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And then she stopped. She held on tight to me and was content in my arms. The director and a nanny from her orphanage brought her. We had a chance to ask them some questions and were grateful for little tidbits they shared. We look forward to learning more when we visit her orphanage later this week. They shared with us some photos of her from that morning…doing what looked like gymnastics moves on the ground. The same moves her big sister likes to do.
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I was so worried about feeding her. Trying to guess which Chinese formula and rice cereal to buy. How much of each to put in the bottle. How hot the water should be. How big of a hole to cut in the top of the nipple. Cleft bottle or regular bottle. And how to feed her in regards to her cleft. So worried.
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Turns out we did okay together. I made a few mistakes, but next time will be better. She downed the bottle in record time – so hungry.
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Once her little belly was full, we got to see some of her spunky personality. We’ve only seen one photo of her with a smile, so I’ve wondered is she could smile easily or if it would be a long road before we saw her smile and heard her giggle. Turns out daddy was able to evoke both really easily.
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She is quite simply awesome.
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We’ve learned she likes to make a clicking/sucking noise with her tongue and cleft palate. It is pretty loud and sounds a lot like the Chinese squeaky shoes. She seems to do it to soothe herself. She also likes to put her thumb in the cleft of her palate and suck. It is pretty cute.

She fell asleep in her daddy’s arms. Probably the first time she’s fallen asleep in someone’s arms.
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Today I was prepared for the worst case scenario. It was so very different. So peaceful, even in the tears. So natural. It was so much like the first times I met her older brothers and sister. And yet it was so very different. Today was beautiful. Our hearts are full. We are beaming. I am overcome with gratitude that God has given us this beautiful gift in the form of a tiny daughter. She is completely awesome.

Today was beautiful.

August 27, 2013. One year later. My beautiful baby has grown into a vibrant, full of life little girl.

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  • emmybrown - beyond beautiful!

  • Ari - Ashley, that was beautiful- again. Brought tears to my eyes- again. And then brought joy to my heart to see how happy she is now that her last name is Campbell. Thank you for sharing your/her journey with all of us.

  • Tanya - Lucky and blessed little girl. Lucky and blessed (not so little) family.

    :-)

  • Jen Spilker - Oh, I’m crying all over again. Love!

  • amber - She is so beautiful. So is her story. What a tremendous girl. I wish I could squeeze her tight! I love how God works. Truly amazing.

  • Kimberly Troth - TEARS!!! I will never forget waiting to see photos of Little One. Now I can’t remember much from your time without her. What a Blessing she is to you and all of you to her.

  • Dana - Forever changed. From her mommy, daddy, brothers, and sister…one day changed everything for the good of all. LOVE. <3

  • Caroline R - So moving, how quickly the five of you look so bonded, on the first day with Little One- it’s very evident in these pictures that you were all made for each other. Little One looks just beautiful, in every photo has always. Thank you for happy tears- a great way to start the day!

  • Tiffany - wonderfully written, beautiful pictures, and a beautiful family. Thank you so much for sharing so much of your life with us. I love the pictures of her smiling after being with you for just a few hours! Lovely!

  • Danielle - Are you kidding me?!! Tears overflowing, everywhere. You’ve done it again. So much in such a little amount time for you guys. Amazingness and beauty.

  • Scott - A good way to make a grown man cry. A beautiful story and family.

  • Allison - Wow. One year. so many changes. Congrats to all of you – that picture of all of you all smooched in together at the end…my favorite. May the next year be just as blessed.

  • Christi Smith - wow. what a difference a year makes. And can’t believe it’s already been a whole year! Such a wonderful family.

  • Sarah Pratt - Happy Day! Love the family pictures!

  • Janice - I got the the shot of Little One asleep in her Daddy’s arms, with tears streaking down his face, and I lost it. I am quite sure that is where I lost it last year on this day too.

  • Kate - Ashley, I have been reading your blog for years, and while many of your posts have been profound and moving, I haven’t felt I could comment until today. But, seeing how far your wonderful family has come in this past year is a joy to behold, and I am so so delighted for all of your blessings. I, along with many of your readers, feel privileged to have had a glimpse into your journey. Congratulations, and so much happiness to your beautiful family!

  • amy jupin - this post.
    this year.
    all of it.
    it breaks me and makes me happy and hopeful at the same time.
    thank you for sharing your girl with me.
    i love her.
    and i love you.
    big time gushing mushy love.

  • Rachel B. - Continued prayers and blessings for you all on this joyful day!

  • Jess Z. - I absolutely love this post :) Brings tears to my eyes again. What a wonderful family you have :)

  • Emily - The shot of the seven of you together brought tears to my eyes, what a special day. So very happy for your family and honored that you let us all follow along with this journey!

  • Ginna - Oh geez, here I am crying in my office. What an awesome, beautiful story of love. She is simply precious.

  • Carolyn - Wonderful Journey for your sweet baby girl. This is the first blog I have read by you. So inspirational and meaningful. What a lovely family you have. Blessings to you and your wonderful family.

  • Kimber-Leigh - happy tears are filling my eyes at the beauty of your story. such joy in these pictures. thank you for sharing this look back.

  • kassondra - HAPPY 1 YEAR TOGETHER!!! more tears, such an amazing story

  • Renee - Well, I’m crying.
    This was beautiful.

  • meg duerksen - oh wow. such a big year. and yet it seems as though she was alway here. always a part of you. love you guys. what a gift to have it all documented so beautifully too.

  • Carrie Davis - This is absolutely amazing. An remarkable difference a year makes!

  • Rachel Kaylynn - Thank-you so much for sharing this part of your journey with us! It’s been a blessing to see her grow over the last year.

  • Christine - So beautiful! Shedding tears as I read through it. What an amazing journey you are on. May God continue to bless you and your family as live, love and grow in grace in this next year.

  • Melissa wood - Cried happy tears as I read your post this morning. So happy to follow your family through these past few years. What a special girl she is! And what a gift to join your sweet family!
    Lots of love to you and that darling crew!

  • Amy - So beautiful! I can’t believe it’s been a year already. Its been such a joy to watch her grow and change this last year. She is so adorable!

  • Nini~ - Wow, she’s still a beauty. What a fairy tale…thank you for sharing.

    Nini~

  • Julie Van Boening - Oh Ashely, these photos have made my heart SMILE this morning!!! Little One is so darn precious and has fit into your family just like the missing piece to a puzzle ~ she is right where she belonged all along. God is so AMAZING how He knows just who to place with whom. He’s done it in my life and daily, I see He did it in yours. Thank you for sharing the sweetness of your journey with us. BLESSED!!! <3

  • Kim - Happy Gotcha Day!!!

  • Tammy Henderson - I should just know by now to bring tissues when I sit down to read your posts. Love. Blessings to all of you.

  • stephany - such a beautiful story…and it’s only just the beginning.
    your family is beautiful.

  • Andy - oh my a year has gone by. such a sweet wonderful story. love the pics. the one of your husband holding her and the tears on his face…..priceless.

  • Kristin - Ashley, this is so incredibly beautiful… I’ve been following along on your journey for a couple years, and rejoicing and crying with you – it makes my heart full to see your lovely family now. Little One is so precious! May God continue to bless you all to overflowing!

  • Sara W - One word – Beautiful!

  • Molly - so beautiful. all of it. just beautiful. brought tears to my eyes. and her eyes…you can see it in her eyes. she has really come alive. beautiful.

  • Crystal - Beautiful!

  • Marie - My heart soars whenever I read about your family…so happy and so blessed to have found such inspiration. Your little one looks so content. You two are wonderful for what you’ve done.

  • Monica - Beautiful story, beautiful little girl , beautiful LOVE! :). Blessings to your family.

  • christine - i love your girl and i love your whole family! be blessed! thanks to share with us!
    christine

  • Lisa K - Simply beautiful.

  • Gretchen - All of this is so full of beauty (and tears!) Thanks for the look back. Amazing to see how much she has grown and changed in a year. Awesome-ness! Thanks for the peeks at your life.

  • Carol Van Boening - SO precious!! It was meant to be!

  • Jill - Beautiful post!

    Happy 1 year!!

  • jen - i can’t believe it has been a year!! wow. love the photo’s and love that you have shared your journey with her with all of us. such an inspiration. thank you.

  • Marie - Oh Happy Day!
    Have a joy-filled day!!

  • Sophie - Some people don’t believe that international adoption is right. To those people, I would just show them these photos. That beautiful little girl was made to be part of your family. Absolutely perfect!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - OH, I knew I would cry – but I didn’t even make it past the title. Oh joyous day! Ugh.

    And now I am sitting here with Riley dancing in front of me to Veggietales. Oh, my heart. It has grown and grown. Thank you, thank you for encouraging me on the journey.

    Do you ever wonder if older brother took all the love from that day and relates it to the kitten he found to photograph? And now – he loves kittens with all his heart :)

  • Tiffany C. - Tears of joy for/with you~~ *Beautiful family!~

  • Jacci - Two photos… the one of you looking at her when you’re both crying and the one of Chris holding her with a single tear down his cheek. They break my heart because those moments broke yours. But, oh, the Redeemer. “He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.” Praise and glory and honor to Him.

  • Jaklyn Cato - The photo of her asleep in her daddy’s arms . . . so extremely captivating, and makes me cry every time I read this beautiful post. Thank you for sharing.

  • erin - thank you for sharing your/her story. I love reading it (again) and seeing how long she’s come along! :o)

  • Jessica - Vibrant indeed! The minutes leading up to becoming family are agonizing. Each time, even though there was much joy, I thought that that walk and waiting was what it must have felt like to be taken to the gallows!

    Happy one year as a family.

  • Sarah H. - Oh, I am crying! What a beautiful and amazing story. My nephew was born with a cleft lip/palate, so these stories are near and dear to my heart. What a beautiful little girl! Her smile is just precious. Little One is a blessing to many!

  • Marina Schneeberger - I don’t know you and your family (i read your blog for half a year) and I had tears in my eyes while reading. I was so touched by your story. It’s really beautiful! thank you for sharing!
    greetings from austria!
    marina :-)

  • Latonia Grant - So amazingly touches my spirit and so beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  • Linda - Just simply amazing!

  • Nicole - Thank you Ashley for sharing! Just so beautiful! Crying happy tears, warmest wishes!

  • Laura@Ms Smartie Pants - Oh how I remember! Praise God, what a blessing! I may be ignorant but I don’t see little one have deep pain when she grows up, I think she will see the love, deep love, the intentional life that you gave her and she will know that blessing, she may be a little sad, have a few questions but I don’t think she will grieve this deeply. We are so blessed you have shared this journey, thank you!

  • Elizabeth Beattie - I get choked up every time I read this story! I just love your family and am so happy for all of you.

    Warmly,

    Elizabeth

  • Betsy - Beautiful!! Thank you so much for sharing your life with us. I know it may get hard at times but what an inspiration your family has been. You can’t help everyone but everyone can help someone. Blessings to you and your sweet family!

  • Bree - Ashley, its truly amazing how far she has come. I have read your blog everyday and watching the change she has made is remarkable. She is so precious. My favorite picture is of Chris holding her while she sleeps. The amount of love in that photo explains it all. Happy “Home Coming” Anniversary Little One.

  • April - Every time I see that picture of your hubby holding Little One with tears coming down his face, I simply cannot hold back my tears either. Such an amazing picture of Little One being held by her loving daddy, and her talented mommy capturing it on film. Thanks for sharing these moments with us!

  • Hazel. - Que linda familia, felicidades! Me es increíble que tengo mas de un año siguiendo tu blog y lo mucho que ha crédito Little One.
    Saludos, HG

  • Linnea - Hi Ashley, like so many others, I’ve been reading your blog for a long time now. I found it through Ann Voskamp’s blog about two years ago and am so thankful and encouraged by your love for God and your family. I was also blessed to read about your adoption journey.

    My daughter is turning one today, so August 27 is pretty special at my home too. I remember last year reading that you were in Chicago (where I worked until I had Nadia Jane) on your way to get Little One, and wishing so bad I could meet you :) Three days later I gave birth to our little girl three weeks early! Yesterday my husband and I did some baking in preparation for our little girl’s birthday, and we also went and got fingerprinted in preparation for hopefully bringing another little girl home from Uganda next year! It was the blessing and gift of nursing and caring for my daughter that broke our hearts for all the mothers and babies out there without each other.

    Anyhow, sorry for this long comment. I’m pretty nostalgic right now too, so your nostalgia today moved me to tears :) Celebrating with you the beautiful year that God has given your family with Little One, and the love that Little One has known for one year!

  • Olivia - So beautiful! Thank you for sharing your family’s journey with us!

  • Kellee - Completely inspiring, emotional, lovely, and miraculous..THANK YOU for sharing

  • merideth altom - ashley that post slays me!! so beautiful and raw. you have such a happy beautiful family!

  • Christina - That family picture is my favorite photo that you’ve ever posted on the blog. So much love. Keep up the good work, mama. Your posts give me hope for my “someday” family :)

  • Sharon @ Discovering Blog - I discovered you a year ago, from a link on Design Mom, and I’m so happy to have been able to follow along with you and your family. I’ve learned so much.
    It is so crazy how much she has changed in one year! Not just from the surgery, but how much she has grown and how big she looks. And happy. She looks so, so happy.

  • Priscilla Alcantara - I’m in tears… this is so heart warming. You can see the love and happiness pouring out little one. You are truly a wonderful woman with such a beautiful family. I’ve been following you now for over a year, and I can’t tell you enough how much I enjoy your reading your posts. God bless your family <3

  • Tiffany - Hi Ashley,
    I’ve been reading your journey for about 4 year now and have prayed for your family over the years. I keep thinking I need to reach out to you, but never do. But I just wanted to say I really believe God has used your family and your willingness to be vulnerable about the journey to give my husband and I a real life look into adoption. We’ve always known adoption would be a big part of our story we just didn’t know when. Since May we have been in the process to adopting a child who has special needs and last night we had our first home inspection. I have been encouraged many times through your sharing and reminded that these waves of excitement I have and also recognizing the weight of what a loss adoption also means has been very encouraging to me. We are striving to choose joy in the waiting and most days we are able to. Thank you for taking the time to share. God is definitely impacting lives through this space and your willingness! I’m celebrating with you today!

  • Erica - I cried a year ago and again today. What an awesomely beautiful story with the tension of heart ache. Your baby girl has grown so much. May she continue to grow in comfort and joy of your home and in the knowledge and saving grace of her Creator. Blessings to you Ashley Ann!

  • Gwen, The Makerista - nothing like a mid-day cry! :)

    such a beautiful story and it’s so great your boys got to share in it too. those pictures of her sleeping in your husband’s arms are beyond precious. i’m so happy for your family and all that you have given to this little girl…and i’m sure she’s given you just as much in return.

  • Drew - No matter how many times I read this I always get teary. She is amazing and so are you.

  • Margaret - Wow. Been following your blog silently for two years now, and your story makes my heart sing. A couple years ago, the Lord really placed the design of adoption at the forefront of my heart, as a physical manifestation of how He takes children into His family. Shortly after, a friend showed me your blog. Know that you have opened the eyes of many to the beauty and purpose of adoption, and played a part in the Lord making it an purposeful part of my future and my family’s future.

  • Anne C - Tears filled my eyes reading this post. Words cannot express how much respect I have for you and your family. You not only heard God’s calling for your lives, but you obeyed. As a result, you’ve been rewarded with your Little One (who is beyond adorable and seems right at home in your family). You inspire us readers, Ashley. Thanks for sharing your stories.

  • Abby - So beautiful–I can’t believe it has been a year already!!

  • Ryan - I have GOT to stop reading your blog at work – I always end up crying like a baby! :)

    What a journey you’ve been on, and what a difference a year can make. Thinking of you guys and sending lots of love!

  • Haley - beautiful! I can’t believe it has already been a year. She is getting so big.

    That picture of Chris holding LO as she sleeps gets me every time.

  • Emily - That picture of you and she in tears and the picture of Chris with tear stains just KILL me! What amazingness this is….. you both are SO BLESSED! Happy Gotcha Day Little One!

  • Amy @Fig Milkshakes - I REMEMBER! I remember telling everyone who would listen, “that blogger I like got her baby today.” :)

  • Dawn - What a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing.

  • Inguna - Found your blog through Young House Love about 2 month ago. Then spent a whole month waking up in morning and reading, reading and reading and looking through pictures. I couldn’t do anything to myself, it was almost an addiction.
    Your story, and the way you tell it, is amazing.
    Thank you for sharing all the joys and tears.
    I cried a ~month ago (when I read the posts about adoption), and I do today.

  • Marci Phee - One year ago, I waited by the computer for your update on Little One. I cried my eyes out reading your post when it finally hit the Internet. And today I cried again. So happy for you, your family and especially Little One. How lucky all of you are to be together and how lucky all of us are to witness it. xo

  • Noelle - I love this. That’s all I can say. <3

  • Julia - oh praise the Lord. I loved that post a year ago and cried when reading it. second verse, same as the first.
    what a beautiful transformation. She was beautiful from day one. but I love how she is beaming with her family. what a glorious picture. love it. love you!

  • Ashley - Wow! What a difference a year can make. Amazing!

  • Erin - Thank you so much for sharing–May God continue to bless you all!

  • sylvie la GB - such a beautiful post ! So moved re-reading your post from last year, so moved to see how she’s grown in one year !
    Thanks for sharing this beautiful story
    Sylvie, adoptive mum from France

  • Ruth Abel - I can not tell you how much this post moved me then, and how much it blesses my heart now. Your family is so, so beautiful and I admire your loving bravery immensely. My husband and I are blessed with two littles so far, and we are beginning the initial stages of pursuing domestic adoption. As the oldest of seven children, I understand what it is like to have a big family, but not to mother one. Thank you for your example and for sharing not just the smiles, but the tears as well. Your story is real and beautiful, and it encourages me!

  • Jenn - I am just astonished at how much she has changed in a year! She just looks so healthy, loved and full of life! Happy 1 year!

  • Kat - Every time I’ve read the post about the day you got Little One I cry EVERY TIME I see that picture of her asleep on your husband. Every time. Thank you for sharing such a personal time in your life. I’ve always thought she looked right at home as soon as you held her.

  • Keshet Starr - I’ve read this post a few times, and cried every time. Now I’m crying even more;) What a beautiful, beautiful girl and a beautiful story.

  • angie - Big tears (and I am at work!) What an amazing girl. What an amazing family. Such a blessing. So incredible. What a journey. Thank you for sharing so openly.

  • Jessica Scott - I started reading your blog about 6 months ago but never went back and read this one. It brought me to tears, such a sweet story and a amazing thing your family did, to add one more to your brood. Love it!

  • Barbro - <3 So beautiful!

  • Carrie Rosalind - Yay! So sweet. I remember crying last year when I read this, and I cried again today. So happy for your family!

  • Nikki - You made me cry… again. I just adore your words and perspective on things (through and not through a photo lens). I love watching your family grow (and grow up). I came here years ago for photo advice and have stayed for family advice and strangely a friendship you didn’t know existed. Thank you for all you do and say and ways you inspire us.

  • Amy K. - I LOVED this post so much the first time around, but it is so fun to look at it again now that her sweet face is so familiar!

  • Josephine - I remember reading this a year ago. I’d just given birth to my second child and was still in the newborn haze. I welled up then, but more so when I read it again just now. So far you’ve all come in such a short time. Little One looks to be blooming within your family. I can’t begin to know what it’s been like, but my heart is full for you. High fives, Campbells. May you all stay healthy and happy :-)

  • Jen Mac - Blubbering idiot over here! Too beautiful for words.

  • Aurora Kostezky - I can’t believe it’s been a year. That means it’s just over a year since I followed a random link to your blog and started folloing your family’s travels. A year that I am thankful for – I have gained so much from your blog and have enjoyed watching your mothering. She is a wonderful little girl and a testament to your family’s spirit.

  • Kelsey Gilliam - Beautiful.
    Her face between the photo’s of being mid air to the photo’s of her being in your arms, and with your family, it’s like she knew she was home. :). I know that it’s amazing that God creates kids for our families biologically, but it’s almost more amazing to me that for those whom He calls to adoption, He creates to complete their families without any of their DNA needed.

  • Amanda - Amazing story! I’m commenting for the first time and I can’t control my tears! Tears of gratitude and thankfulness that God has placed such a beautiful and perfect little girl into your family. Your family is truly amazing and I have loved following your journey. Your strength and beauty never cease to amaze me!

  • Amy Cornwell - It was so great looking back a year ago and reliving that with you. Happy gotcha day little one! She is so beautifully happy – what a wonderful gift.

  • Stoich91 - Crying all over the floor sorry hot mess brb….

    In the meantime, WOW what a lovely tribute. All the things I can think of saying only make me more teary-eyed. It is so strange to be a stranger and yet feel so connected to her story and you all as a family!

    Also, as a side note, it’s hilarious how photogenic your kids are. You don’t really notice it until you take pictures of them with other people, and there they are, just beaming into the camera with magazine-ready poses! :D hahaha

  • Darcie - I got chills when I scrolled from the pic of her in Chris’ arms (I see that tear on his cheek… perfect), to the pic of her now and the new family pics. What an incredible story. I LOVE it. She is (and was) so beautiful. What’s more beautiful is your heart full of love for a little girl you had never met, and how her emotions flowed over into yours. You were meant for each other. Thanks for sharing your heart with me over Craft Weekend. I loved hearing the story of her name and who she is. I pray that we can keep in touch!

  • Natalie - Beautiful post Ashley. I began reading your blog around Christmas last year when we began our adoption journey. I just reread all your adoption related posts again here in the last couple weeks as we recently received the referral for our daughter Violet. Now that I know a trip to China to get our beautiful girl is imminent, I have a different lens through which experience your posts. Thank you for sharing in this way. It’s been such a blessing to me. God is using your special talent for storytelling for his glory.

  • Macy - Beautiful. Simply beautiful. Congratulations on 1 year!

  • Kimberly Dial - Precious. I’m nothing less than amazed by the entire journey from beginning to now. Thank you. God bless you & your sweet family :)

  • peta - I cried when you originally posted this (after stalking the blog waiting for updates!) and then I have just cried again today reading this update. I never noticed the tears streaming Chris’ face in that photo where he is nursing her to sleep. So beautiful!

    What an amazing family you have. And such memories. photos are powerful things, x

  • Tiffany - I have been working my way through your adoption stories every night as I put my daughter to sleep. Although I feel like I cheated a bit today, jumping to the end, your story touched my heart. I’m so happy she’s found her way to you and your family.

  • Hillary - A truly beautiful story full of God’s wonderful grace that never gets old. Thank you, once again, for sharing a piece of your story with us. God bless you and your family

  • Christi - What a beautiful journey. What a beautiful child and family. What a gift.

  • Kat - Cried last year. Cried this year. You have a beautiful family, thank you for sharing your journey with us! I pray one day to adopt my own daughter from China :)

  • Christy - What a beautiful and wonderful life this little girl is going to have as a member of your family. She is truly blessed! Cannot wait to see what happens in the years to come. Thank you so much for sharing her with us.

  • Carly - This post made me cry at my desk.
    Your family looks so happy and wonderful and I dream of one day having so many babes, hopefully one or two joining through adoption.
    Thank you for inspiring me.

  • Kate - Feeling extremely lucky that I picked today to read your blog for the first time. Beautiful story, beautiful vision.

  • Elise - Your post from last year brought tears to my eyes… again. I’m so over joyed for you and your family. I hope to one day experience the love a joy from my “Little One.” Can’t wait to watch her and the rest of your kiddos grow!

  • Shelley Smucker - Brought tears to my eyes! Oh my heart breaks thinking of that moment when she first starts to cry. The fear, the unknowns…for both of you! But what a beautifully redemptive story. Love every bit of it. Blessings to you and your lovely family!!

  • vincentia - I started to read your blog with finishing read all your posts about adoption journeys, tears and joy with me reading them. You have amazing family. May God Bless u always.. No words can show my feeling to see Little One grows that lovely, surrounds with wonderful brothers and sister. You inspire me to be a wonderful mom.

    Best Wishes from me in Indonesia,
    Vincentia

  • Georgia - I LOVE this, especially the family picture. I remember the picture with the empty chair. Thanks for sharing your journey!

  • Libby - Thank you for posting this beautiful story x

  • Randi - I haven’t commented here in a very long time :) … But I read this post a year ago, and just read it again and it is just so beautiful. Happy happy tears. What a precious gift you all are to eachother. Thanks for sharing, as always :) she is precious. They all are ;)

  • marie - It’s crazy how all the kids have changed so much! I’ve been following your blog for a while now and can’t believe we’re already one year later…
    the girls are just so cute together!
    your story is so full of love and inspiring!

    x

  • Jennifer - Ashley, I found your blog a little over a year ago through DesignMom. Today seems like a good day to let you know that that link and your blog is, quite literally, changing my family’s life. We have pre-approval to adopt a little boy in Sichuan province. Thank you.

  • Patricia - your story, your family and little one completely take my breath away!!!

  • charissa - amazing.
    ps love the shot when you first hold your daughter & your lil guy is snapping a picture of that moment on the iPhone! ?

  • Kate - I read this post, and soaked in your pictures with tears streaming down my face – I love this little girl so much, and you. You totally inspire me every day. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful life with me.

  • Angela A - Thank you.

  • Ashley - She is such a beautiful little girl. You will are so lucky to have each other. The post from a year ago still makes me cry. Thank you for writing about your adoption journey….the good, the hard and everything in between. Happy One Year Together!

  • Claudia - Ashley, amazing how fast a year goes. I still remember following your story and sitting in bed with my husband telling him about this family and this blog and how incredibly excited I was for your family. Don’t ask me why but as your journey progressed and the day came I remember both of us reading that post just being happy and tearful. The picture of you and Little One still brings tears to my eyes. What an incredible journey. We are parents to four soon to be five and yes, as a parent you remember the first meeting forever. Congrats for Little One. Congrats to your family for finding the missing piece of the puzzle :) You guys are beautiful!

  • Southern Gal - I’d never read the story before. Beautiful. The tears on your husband’s face as he held her as she slept just ruined me.

  • Cheri - Amazing love story. Your love. God’s great love. Thank you for sharing your life with us readers.

  • ellen patton - I’ve loved following the life of your beautiful family!

  • Janelle Vano - I can’t believe it’s been a year already! I have followed your blog for many years now and feel so blessed and inspired each time I read it. I cried when you shared the first post about meeting your precious new baby girl (I remember I checked your blog for any update throughout that entire day as if I was waiting right along with you and your family)…and I cried again re-reading it today. I’ve always thought that I would adopt one day, but I had never thought about adopting one with a cleft lip until this past year. Little One just melts my heart!! So happy for the seven of you!!

  • kayleigh - This post really moved me, I think you have done a truly amazing thing. She is so beautiful both before and after the surgery and looks so full of life! I also wanted to tell you how much I like your writing style, I love reading your posts even though I’m young with no children, they are so evocative and truly inspirational, thank you :)

  • Jenny B. - So hard to believe it’s been a year! I loved seeing your post from last year again and then the sweet pictures of Little One now. Those pictures from when you first held her still choke me up. I remember that day. It had a big impact on me. Thank you for letting us watch your family grow!

  • Deanna - A year already! I have loved following your journey and your family is that much more beautiful with her in it. She is so incredibly perfect.

  • Jules M - Thank you for taking the time to think back & share the story with us. Such emotions that you were all filled with. I just love how your hearts were full of love for this beautiful little girl. Your family is truly blessed.

  • Ang - I cried all over again. Beautiful.

  • Suzanne McRae - Beautiful, heart warming story. The tears were beautiful… Mom holding baby for hte first time… and Dad holding her as she slept with tears streaming down his face. Congratulations, you have a beautiful family… and she’s a beautiful girl. xo

  • Amy D - It’s been so so so beautiful to watch Little One (and your family too!) blossom!!! Thank you for sharing God’s glory in your story!

  • Lindsay - She is soooo BEAUTIFUL! I I remember your post from last year and this one was just as touching!

  • Rachel - This post made me cry and cry last year…and again today. What a blessing she is!!

  • Lisa Box - Crying tears of joy for you and your beautiful family, Ashley! I cried last year, too, as I read your meeting-little-one post the first time. What a gift it has been to watch your journey these past couple of years…thank you for sharing it with all of us!

  • Faith - Oh wow you made me cry such a huge cry reading your story and looking at the photos..the one of your husband holding her wrapped in her blanket with a tear streaming down his cheek and her gazing at him..Oh wow..man who hasn’t felt that..that power of love with your child..that was what got me..just seeing the two of them…how safe she must of felt and how loved she was. I am so happy for all of you..what a beautiful story and thank you for sharing with someone like me..someone who just came across your blog and liked your photos..I am glad I didn’t just glaze over it but actually read it all.
    Have a blessed day.
    You put me in my place today.
    No complaining about the little things in my life.
    I feel very humble.
    Faith

  • Jill Curtis - Wow.

  • Kristen @ LoveK Blog - What a beautiful story. I had tears in my eyes seeing how you all bonded so quickly. Beautiful moments, thanks for sharing.

  • sandy - I just stumbled upon your blog and ran into this post which brought me to happy tears. You and your family are an amazing inspiration! Thank you for touching my soul.

  • Luana - i love the photos!!

  • Victoria - Man oh man, I’ve broken the record for how many tears of rejoicing a stranger should cry over the same pictures. Thankful for your story!

  • Kimberly Parker - Bless you and your family for taking this little one into your hearts and your home. I, too, was born with a cleft lip–although I was fortunate enough not to have a cleft palate. I am amazed at the beauty of the repairs now. Mine started when I was born in 1963 and it took them 5 surgeries for the result to look as good as your little girl’s! God be with you all as you continue to nurture her!

  • Kimberlee Jost - The picture from last year where Chris is holding her in the hotel room…with the quilt.
    I had not seen that tear stain until today. THAT is beautiful. Probably one of my favorite pictures you’ve ever taken.

    How can it be a year? This feels so fresh in my brain. And now I am crying too. Love you and all your kids.

  • Johanna - Such a beautiful and inspirational story of her journey…she is so beautiful! Congrats to you and your family on ONE YEAR togehther!!

  • Sunshine Mama - Such a beautiful story! Thanks for sharing with us. You have a beautiful family!

  • Ann - I cried the same way I did a year ago. It has been wonderfual being allowed to follow your journey. You and your family inspire me.

  • elizabeth H - i remember the day you posted this . . . how my heart swelled for you! the joy of knowing Little One would finally be in your arms!!
    & now, a year later, your BEAUTIFUL, thriving Little One is home; a part of your family photo’s.
    SUCH OVERFLOWING GOODNESS!!!

  • Lori - Such a beautiful post and the original one still makes me cry. Happy “gotcha” day. :)

  • Carolyn - I can’t believe it has been a whole year! She has grown so much and is clearly a happy child surrounded by love. Congratulations to your family on this anniversary!

  • Chelsey - Thank you for reposting this special moment. It is one of my favorites from the blog. So very happy for your family! #criedallthetears

  • DAniela - respect!
    i’m sure, that little one is in the right family now ;-)
    enjoy all your kids, its a very special gift!
    greetings from switzerland, daniela

  • Cathy - Thank you for sharing this with us. So touching and emotional. Love your family.

  • kelly rae - This is an incredibly beautiful story which brought tears to my eyes-your daughter is incredibly gorgeous!

  • Vanisha's Life in...Australia - I’m only new to your blog so I’ve only just come across this post. I’m 27 years old and I found out a few months ago that I can’t have children. I’ve have a few decisions to make and am leaning heavily towards adoption but I have such a huge fear of ‘that day’ turning out differently. Your post has brought me a small amount of comfort which means a lot. Thank you.

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