"Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them." Psalm 127:3-5

Friday, February 15, 2019

One Year Ago...

One year ago today, I saw this sweet face for the first time...

One year ago today, this face was forever etched into my heart.  One year ago today, a journey like none other began, in the quiet hours of the morning, as this tiny little photograph pierced the walls I had built around my heart.  It wouldn't be for another two months or so before we actually began the process to adopt Rose.  But from those very first moments I knew.  I knew that our world had just changed and there was no going back.  Whether this child was to be held only in our hearts, or in our arms someday, I did not know.  But there she was.  In an instant she became part of us.

One year later, I lay in bed in the early hours of the morning, with that same sweet face lying right next to me, having fallen asleep in my arms the night before.  One year later, we are standing on the other side of deep valleys, graced by a joy that is simply beyond human words.  There is a light that shines from within Rose that is indescribable; a light that comes from the Spirit within her; a light with the purpose of glorifying her Father in Heaven, so that others may know His love.  I am daily reminded of how blessed we are to be the ones who get to walk alongside her, and help her grow into the fullness of her indentity in Christ.  We get to be the ones to witness the miracle of redemption, transformation, and healing.  To witness the work of God in, and through, her life--to be forever changed by it.  

One year ago today, Rose was born in our hearts.  We never could have imagined the depth of love that we would have for her, nor the joy that would come with watching her bloom before our very eyes.  And to think...that is only a glimpse, a tiny reflection, of our Father's love.  

Thank you, Father, for the gift of our beautiful Rose--for the joy she brings, the light she shines, and the ways in which she draws us closer to You.

With much love,


Saturday, December 15, 2018

Hello from Texas...Six Weeks Later

I feel like this post should be titled something like, "Hello stranger, it's been a while!"  The last time I wrote, Rose and I were still in China, about to begin our long trip home.  When those airplane wheels touched the ground in Austin, TX, on November 3, we literally hit the ground running.  And I have sat down to write this update more times than I can count, but inevitably get pulled in another direction, or six...

The short version of how things are going with our little Rose is that things are simply amazing.  We have been completely shocked at how well she, and the rest of our family, have settled into our new normal.  All the things we were most concerned about in regards to her transition into our family have gone so incredibly smoothly.  From the moment we got home, Rose has seemed to be completely at peace.  Jetlag threw her off for about two or three days, but she quickly acclimated and is the most amazing sleeper we have ever had!  She soaks up the attention from all of her siblings, and is not one bit phased by all the commotion.  We were prepared for her needing quite of bit of "alone time" in her crib, away from all the noise and stimulation.  But that has not been the case one bit.  She is interacting with everyone, forming unique bonds with each member of the family, and thriving with all the hands on attention she is getting.  She is a quick learner, much more so than we were lead to believe throughout the process.  She has learned some hand gestures (blowing kisses and clapping) which indicate her ability to mimic and learn sign language, at the very least.  She says Mama, though not really with intention or knowing that that is me.  But still, it brings a huge smile every time I hear it!!  Her muscles are getting stronger every day, and you can just see the wheels turning in her little head and she takes everything in.  

The hardest part of the transition for our family as a whole has been with our little Luke.  He was most definitely used to being the "baby" of the family, and having the vast majority of my undivided attention.  Fortunately we have gone from, "Mommy, when are we sending baby Rose back to China?!" to "We're never sending baby Rose back to China, she's our baby!" and "I love baby Rose, I just can't stop saying I love her!"  He also loves to come to her rescue...if he hears her start to cry, he will immediately come running to her and make a little motor sound that for some reason is oddly soothing to her, and it often stops her crying.  I think after six weeks he has settled into the role of big brother pretty well, although it comes with his usual intensity! 😉

Since being home, Rose has had a lot of firsts.

She has ridden in a car seat for the first time, which is now one of her most favorite places to be.  This girl loves being on the road!

She has begun eating soft foods, without the help of any feeding therapy whatsoever.  This has been one of our biggest surprises, because after almost three years of being exclusively bottle fed, coupled with the tendency for children with Down Syndrome to have feeding difficulties, we were not expecting such quick progress.  When I first got her, she had no clue what to do with her tongue when anything other than formula touched it.  And really no desire to learn.  But once we were home, and her core muscles strengthened enough to where she could sit in the high chair without tiring so quickly, she took to spoon feeding like a pro.

She got up on all fours for the first time, though she definitely prefers to be resting on her tummy!   

She has weathered her first respiratory virus with a Mama and Daddy to love her through it, which still ended up turning into pneumonia.  It struck me over and over again as I wiped her little nose, or took her temperature, checked her oxygen levels, held her upright in the steam to ease her breathing--all the things I have done with my other kids countless times--that this was the first time she wasn't fighting alone.  The nannies don't have time to wipe every child's runny nose all day, or hold each one in the steam, or keep a close eye on their vitals.  They simply do not have that luxury.  And that is exactly what it is--a luxury, a privilege.  Caring for our children is something that I had taken for granted, even griped about at times as an exhausted mom.  But it's a luxury.  And I am so thankful to get to care for this sweet little girl now.

She met our horse family, and has fallen in love with none other than our big Huey Bear!  Though she had never seen such an animal before, much less such a large one, she immediately reached out her little hands to pet him, and then leaned in to lay her head on his (which of course we didn't get a picture of in time.)

She laughs...a lot!

She snuggles.

Every single day we look at this child in amazement that she is here.  She is safe.  She is home.  She is loved.  She is happy.  And she has brought so much JOY into our lives.

(Blowing Kisses)

As time allows, I will begin sharing more about our time in China--hopefully before all of the most important parts fade from my not-so-great memory!

Thank you all for coming alongside us as we begin walking out the road before us with our sweet Rosie girl.  Needless to say, we don't know all the places it will lead us, nor what it will all look like.  But we do believe that the story of our Rose in bloom is something to be shared.

With much Love,

Friday, November 2, 2018

Hello from China!

Introducing Rose Jia Ning Hadsell

It has been an incredible two weeks here in China, to say the least!  Once we are home, and have had some time to process all that has taken place here, I will share more of our journey.  But for now, I will let a few photos tell the story.  (I only have internet on my phone, the computer can't connect, so this post is coming to you via cell phone, with limited capabilities).

The above photo was taken on our "Gotcha Day"--the day I got Rose from the orphanage.  For some reason this is the only photo from that day that my phone is letting me upload to blogger.  But in it you can see the fear written all over her face.  This little girl had spent the vast part of her 32 months on this earth laying in a crib.  Simply being picked up, held, moved from one position to another was overwhelming and frightening for her.  She would cry every single time someone went to pick her up, even the nannies who had been with her for her entire life.  So, they picked her up as little as they could.  I will share more of that story, and pictures from gotcha day when I get back to my computer. 

Fast forward to five days later, and this is what God had already done.

Those are some of Rosie's first real smiles and giggles.  When she first started to smile, it would be a very quick little grin, which would immediately disappear back into a blank stare.  When she first started to laugh, it scared her.  She laughed and then cried.  But by day 5, when these pictures were taken, JOY had begun filling this sweet girl.  On day 5, she allowed me to pick her up without crying.  She smiled and laughed without hesitation.  Love had already begun healing her tender heart. 

Fast forward to day 10, and this is Rose laughing while blowing kisses (a new trick she has learned), all while SNUGGLING!!!  As in, voluntary physical contact, that she sought out, and was happy about!!!

Today is day 12, and instead of crying when I pick her up, she now stops crying when I pick her up.  She gets so excited when she sees me put on the front carrier, and starts flapping her little arms in anticipation of getting in and snuggling.  We have gone three whole days without any inconsolable crying fits. She has learned to blow kisses and clap her hands.  She makes eye contact when I talk to her.  And she smiles and laughs so very much!  

I don't completely have the words to describe what is has been like to watch her come alive.  It has been like seeing the tangible glory of God right in front of my very eyes.  She still guards her heart fiercely, but Love is making its way in.

Rose and I begin our trek home tomorrow morning, leaving our hotel at 4:50am, and arriving in Austin, TX about 24 hours later.  Prayers for safe travels, and for Rose's ability to handle a massive amount of over-stimulation would be so appreciated!  We have felt the power of prayer holding us up during these past two weeks, and we thank each of you for lifting us up, and coming alongside us as we get our little Rosie girl home.  And a huge shout out to our Mimi and Nana, who have stepped in and helped David with the kiddos at home in my absence.  You have truly been God's hands and feet in our lives, and we thank you!!!

With much love from China,
Ashley and Rose

Sunday, October 14, 2018

It's GO Time!

This is going to be a short little update because we are officially in crunch time around here...Rose will be in my arms in less than one week!  We are busy scurrying around preparing things, not only for my travel and Rose, but for life at home while I am away.  It's going to be an adventure on both sides of the world!!     

We appreciate all of the love, prayers, support, advice, and encouragement that you all have poured out during this journey, more than any words could possibly convey.  The words thank you simply aren't enough.  We have seen God's hand all along the way through each of you, our friends and family, and we thank you for being His hands and feet in our lives!   

Check back for updates from China this next week, we look forward to sharing this journey with you all as time, internet access, and God would allow. 😊     

With much love,

Monday, September 3, 2018

I'll Stand

I'll stand with arms high and heart abandoned,
In awe of the One Who gave it all.
I'll stand, my soul Lord to You surrendered.
All I am is Yours

~The Stand, Michael W. Smith

These past weeks I have been silent.  I haven’t had the words to convey what has been happening in our lives.  I still don’t completely.  As far as Rose’s adoption process itself goes, things are moving along just as they should.  We are getting the necessary approvals at each stage, without complication, and are entering the very last steps of the process.  We are now waiting for the official Travel Approval--which means we have successfully completed the two governments' obstacle courses, jumped through every hoop, have been told, "Yes, you may adopt Rose," and are now waiting to be told, "Yes, you may now actually go get Rose!"  It is looking like travel will be mid-late October.  Each letter of approval, or notice of forward movement has brought such joy to our family.  Knowing that we are one step closer to Rose no longer being an orphan, no longer spending her days isolated in a white crib, and one step closer to the rest of her life, the rest of our life, has been such welcome encouragement.  They have been like buoys thrown out to us as we tread some very tumultuous waters, with waves crashing all around us.

These past weeks and months have been a roller coaster of emotions, experiences, losses, and blessings.  Over the years, we have watched other adoptive families endure similar roller coasters as they fight their way to their children—hard fought battles, leaving their spirits bruised and bloodied.  I have watched in awe of their steadfast faith, perseverance, and strength as their lives take one hit after another—financial, physical, relational, spiritual, you name it.  I have wondered if I would have the strength to endure such battles, or if I would succumb to the fear and doubt and suffering.  Over the past six months, every single shred of our lives has come under fire.  Every.  Single.  Part.  Health, finances, relationships, our faith, our home, our marriage, our future.  Nothing has been left untouched.  We basically painted a huge flashing bullseye on our life when we committed to adopting Rose.  And it’s been a steady onslaught of attacks ever since.  We have known that this kind of adoption is a threat to the schemes of our enemy.  We have experienced that first hand when we adopted Alex six years ago.  We were completely blindsided by it then.  And though we never could have predicted what the battlefield would look like this time, at least we knew to be on the lookout.  To be ready with eyes of discernment, spirits willing to be molded, and most importantly flesh willing to die.  It is on the battlefields surrounding these two adoptions where I have learned to die, and then (and only then) learned to stand.  We must die before we can live.  We must let go before we can move forward with resolve, and steadfast faith and perseverance.

Over the course of my life, I have stood by and watched as death has come to almost every single thing in my life that I have treasured, in one way or another.  Things that are good.  Home, family, commitment, marriage, secure provisions for my children, wide open spaces, a place to offer help and hope and comfort to people in need.  Those aren’t bad things.  They are not the pursuit of wealth, nor riches, nor power, nor glory, nor fame, nor self-indulgence.  They are good and noble things.  Yet death has pursued them at every turn.  I have lived always preparing for the worst, because the worst has become a reality, over and over again.  Always waiting for the other shoe to fall, always knowing that it was just a matter of time before it would.  I have been told that there is a desperation about me.  And it is true.  I have lived with a desperate fear of loss.  I have relied upon man, including myself, instead of my Father.  I have placed God’s treasures in the hands of frail humanity.  I have been desperate for someone or something that I could trust; desperate for the approval of others, to ensure they would not turn their backs on me; desperate for some sense of safety and security; desperate to avoid further death.  As this battle intensified, and death crept closer and closer once again, my eyes were opened and I was given a different perspective, or viewpoint, of the battlefield.    

I have come to a place of realization, or acceptance rather, of the fact that there is but One source of security, safety, trust, hope, and Life—God.  Security cannot be found in man, nor earth, nor money, nor land, nor dreams, no matter how noble they may be.  It can only be found in Christ.  And it can only be found in Christ once we have died to all our human, fleshly clutches.  In the Kingdom of God, death must come before Life, not the other way around.  We must be broken and shattered, brought to our knees, before we can stand.  During these weeks of silence, I have been broken.  Much has been shattered.  I have been dying.  Death is painful, and hard, and scary.  It’s excruciating.  It’s the cross.  It’s where we are tempted to say, “Father, why hast Thou forsaken me?”  It’s where we come face to face with our own depravity, and realize that we are not worthy of the tiniest grain of sand, and must say, “Father, forgive me for my sins.”  It’s where we come face to face with all our fears, with all our wounds and betrayals and suffering.  It’s where we must say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”    But it’s also where come face to face with our Savior, where we receive Life everlasting, Mercy, Forgiveness, and Grace.  It’s where we meet our Father, and He says, “You are Mine, My child.”  On the cross, everything that can be shaken must be shaken.  And that which remains is none but Christ in us.  Alive.  Standing strong in victory.  
So now, after much death, I can stand in Life renewed.  Though it appears on the outside that much has been shattered, I stand with the hope, “that when anything that’s shattered is laid before the Lord, just watch and see, these are places where Grace is soon to be amazing. I am walking the path that has been laid out before me since before God knit me in my mother’s womb.  I am moving in the direction that God has been leading me for as long as I can remember.  But I could not follow Him into His Kingdom purposes, if I didn’t first lay down my own kingdoms, die to my own selfish ambitions, doubts, fears, and desperate attempts to protect myself.  After much has been shaken—and I say much, because I know not everything has been shaken yet, death is a lifelong process—there is now a bit more room for Christ to stand within me; for me to grow into the fullness of my identity in Him.  It is time for me to stand without being tossed to and froe by the winds of humanity and its waves of emotion.  It is time for me to stand, not on my own merit, but on the victory of Jesus Christ and with the strength of His Holy Spirit.  It is time for me to stand in unwavering trust in my Father.

I am sharing my story now, because it points to God’s infinite power to redeem even the most broken, most excruciating parts of our lives.  It points to the reality that each and every trial we face is an opportunity for us to let go of another piece of our sinful nature, and grow that much closer to God.  I know there are so many of you facing trials much harder than I can even conceive of.  But I also know that your pain and suffering will not be unredeemed if you bring it to the cross, and lay it down at the feet of Jesus.  He will meet you there.  Every single time.  He will not forsake you.  He has not forsaken me.  In the darkest hours of this battle, as I cried out to the Lord, I reached out for prayers and support from a community of fellow believers and adoptive parents.  Their response was breathtaking.  So many words of encouragement, understanding, and pin-point accurate prayers.  So many voices saying that they have been there, and that it’s hard, so so hard, but it’s SO SO worth it!  Voices encouraging us that we will be able to put back together all that falls apart during this battle, and find new order along the way—the right order.  Prayers for restoration, strength, and peace.  Prayers from people who are in the midst of their own battles, right now, as we speak.  Their stories served as further reminders that God does not forsake us when we meet Him at the cross.  He will bring us new Life, more amazing than anything we have lost in the battle.  He will guide our steps, as we brave the roaring seas—as we choose to get out of the boat, and follow Him out onto the water.  How amazing it is that He is so faithful, so good, so trustworthy, that we can stand and praise Him IN the storm—not just after the storm passes!

We are shattered, Lord.  We are broken.  We lay down our own kingdoms—our hopes and dreams, our frail attempts to make life work, our ways and our visions—we lay them before You, and press on with the hope of everlasting Life in Your Kingdom.  We pray for Your mercy, though undeserved it most certainly is.  We pray for Your grace upon our family, especially our children.  You have always been faithful to bring new life and restoration to all that has passed away in our lives.  When this battle comes to an end, we don’t know where we will be standing, nor what our world will look like.  But we do know that we will be standing, our arms lifted high and hearts abandoned.  We will stand in awe of the One Who gave it all—Who suffered betrayal, bore our sins, and died so that we might live.  We will stand, our souls, Lord, to You surrendered.  All we have is Yours.  Rose is Yours.  The physical adoption process is long and complicated, tangled up in bureaucracy, greed, and SO MUCH PAPERWORK!  But in Your Kingdom, Rose’s adoption has already been fulfilled.  There is no price too high to pay for a child’s life.  That is what You showed us on the cross.  We press on in this battle for our daughter, standing on the victory that has already been won.  We embrace the death that must occur on this battlefield, and we receive the life You have for us as a result of Your shed blood.  This battle has been widespread, and many have endured great suffering.  We pray for Your mercy on each of us, and we pray for Your work here to be accomplished in its fullness.  Then we will stand and say, with great thanksgiving, "It is done."  In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

With much Love,


Sunday, August 19, 2018

Revised T-Shirt Design

We have revised the design for our t-shirt fundraiser, removing the wording ~OurRoseInBloom~ on the back.  We wanted to provide shirts that are not so specific to our family, so that more people can feel comfortable wearing them.  They are still available by clicking on the link on the righthand side of the blog, entitled "Rose's Village".

With much love,
The Hadsell Family

Friday, August 10, 2018

It Takes A Village

The saying, "It takes a village to raise a child" is so very true, and even more so in the case of international adoption and orphan care.  We have launched a t-shirt fundraising campaign to raise funds for Rose's adoption, as well as a sizeable donation to her orphanage in Tianjin.  From the recent accounts of other adoptive families who have adopted from her orphanage, we now know that it is extremely understaffed, and unable to provide for costly surgeries and other medical therapies that many of the children are in desperate need of.  With not enough hands to feed all the babies, if a child cannot hold their own bottle to be fed, they simply aren't fed.  Without enough hands to hold all the little ones, they are simply left in their crib to soothe and entertain themselves, by any means they can--hand flapping, hand chewing, head banging, rocking, etc.  More caretakers would mean more one on one interaction, more eye contact, more physical touch and healthy stimulation, and more love.  The nannies do care about these children.  But they can only do what they can do with what they have.  There are children who need surgery, medicine, and therapies who simply go without for as long as their little bodies can hold on.  With donations directed specifically towards medical care, some of those children won't have hold on until it's too late.

While the orphanage donation is a completely voluntary expense, it is the one that holds the most value in our hearts.  The money goes directly to the needs of all the little ones we will leave behind.  Walking out of those orphange doors, holding Rose in my arms, will be one of the hardest things I will ever have to do.  Because I will be walking away from hundreds of other children just like her, some in much more dire need.  Some have faces that I have already seen, burned into my heart, which is aching to get them out too.  But just like the nannies, we can only do what we can do with what we have.

So we are asking all of you, our friends and family, if you will consider being part of Rose's Village--not only to bring her home, but to help all those that we can't bring home.  It will take a village to bring Rose out of orphanhood, a village to raise her, and a village to meet the needs of the children who remain in the Tianjin Children's Welfare Institute.  We are so grateful for the village that God is raising around us, and we know that He will continue bringing people to come alongside us as we walk out this journey.

To purchase a t-shirt for our fundraiser, you can click on the link on the righthand side of this page entitled "Rose's Village".  The shirts are available in six colors, in both youth and adult sizes.

Thank you for being part of Rose's Village!

With much love,