Little One’s first birthday

Our Little One turned one over the weekend. We like to celebrate birthdays around here. I want my kids to feel celebrated and know that we are so grateful for they days each of them were born. I don’t think birthdays have to be events or elaborate. My hope for my kids is not that they have the coolest party with the most creative decorations, but that they feel celebrated. That they know their mom and dad are beyond overwhelmed with gratitude for their lives – for the incredible days they were each born.

I knew I had a couple of options regarding Little One’s first birthday. I could spend the day in tears – probably not even wanting to get out of bed. OR I could celebrate her. I could celebrate the day she was born and do something in her honor. I chose the second.

Since the birthday girl wasn’t going to be in attendance, we made it more of a family night with friends and family. An Outdoor Movie night in our field. Thank you to those of you on Facebook that gave me movie suggestions…we went with Honey I Shrunk the Kids! We asked friends and family to bring donations of diapers & underwear for local children in state custody. Kids separated from their parents…like our birthday girl separated from us.

I spent a lot of time thinking about her first mom…the one who gave her the gift of life. There are so many things I wish I could tell her. I wish she could have seen the party in our daughter’s honor. I wish she could see how our girl is a blessing to so many. I wish I could tell her how immense and deep the love of our family is for our Little One.


On her birthday we drove to the local children’s shelter to drop off part of the diapers and underwear. (The other half will go to our church’s foster care ministry – which supports foster care families within the church). The shelter is supposed to be a temporary place for children placed in state custody while they wait for to be placed in foster care. Sadly, there are often not enough foster care families and many children (birth – 18) spend far too long at the shelter. The Children’s Center is often in need of a variety of items – including diapers and underwear. I’m not going to get into the political side of why or why not the shelter needs these items. What I care about is that fact that for reasons that are not their own fault – there are children in need and I have the ability to help meet that need. And not only do I have the ability, but I have the gift and honor of helping alongside my family and friends.

In May, as part of The Incubator Project, diapers were donated to my daughter’s orphanage. A month later on her birthday diapers were donated to a local children’s shelter. Granted there are very start differences between where my daughter is and the shelter in our area. However, in both reside vulnerable children separated from their families.

It was horrible to spend my daughter’s birthday away from her. Last we heard there are 42 babies and 2 nannies in her room at the orphanage. We don’t know if anyone even realized it was her birthday there. But…goodness did a lot of people know here. She was honored and celebrated…and so deeply missed. We found out last week a final approval we were waiting on (related to citizenship and immigration) was granted. Now we just wait on various pieces of paperwork to be mailed from country to country. Hopefully by the end of July we will be waiting for an approval to travel.

Happy Birthday Little One, we are fighting to get to you.

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  • Maeve - I love that you celebrated her in her absence, without even having met her. I also love that all your kids helped carry in the load. You teach them so well. Good luck with getting all the approval you need. I can’t wait to hear when you are ready to fly!


  • Pam K - Happy Birthday little one!! What a great mom and family you have.

  • Ko - What a wonderful way to celebrate her and it always makes me cry when you talk about her birth mother. You have a very very big heart my dear and I love the way God is moving in your family.

  • MixedMolly - What a testimony to the what the Lord can do through His people, if we will let Him. Thank you for inspiring me to reach out and make a small difference in my community. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all turned our sorrow and grief into purposeful God-honoring action?

  • Heather - Wow. Happy Birthday to your daughter. Waiting must be so hard. Your little girl is so blessed to have you as her mother. I hope everything works out quickly and smoothly for you.

  • Talia - wow this is got to be the cutest party ever! well done 🙂

  • Lori - Jerimiah 29:11 – look what a difference SHE has made in this world already…and she does not even know it…yet. So happy and joyous to know you all and I am soooo glad you didn’t stay in bed all day. To think we take underwear for granted…underwear. Love you. You bring awareness to the little things and the BIG! Happy Birthday Little Cute One!!!

  • tara - happy birthday to your little one. what an amazing way to celebrate her sweet life!

  • mandi@herbanhomestead - Wow! What a wonderful tribute to little Song. All of those little lives being touched in her honor- just beautiful.

  • Kirra Sue - This totally brought tears to my eyes. Cannot wait for her to be home with you!

  • Bethany - This is beautiful. What an awesome way to share the love.

  • Erin - You are a beautiful person Ashley. How truly lovely.

  • Virginia Bibler - Happy Bithday Little One! AND I’m so honored that your peg family made an appearance at the celebration! 🙂

  • Martina - Happy Birthday, Little One! I’m fighting back tears (since I’m at work). Our sweet baby daughter will celebrate her first birthday in 3 weeks…she’s almost the same age as your youngest. I was hoping our girl’s adoption would be finalized by her first birthday but it’s looking unlikely now. But the finalization is minor compared to holding her in my arms. She’s been with us since she was 2 months and 1 day old. (Placed with us through foster care.) I can imagine the ache you must feel to hold your little girl. I am excited and impatient with you from a distance! I can’t wait to see your family united! What an amazing celebration her next birthday will be, when she’s surrounded by her parents and brothers and sister who love her so much!

  • Heather - Happy,Happy Birthday, most precious little Song!
    Can’t wait till we hear the news of your family traveling to go get her. Thank you for blessing others in your daughter’s honor. My six year old asked why I cry so much as I teared up reading the blog today. ; ) Many, many blessings Campbell family.

  • Yanet of 3 Sun Kissed Boys - This little girl is so blessed to have parents and siblings loving her so much even before they’ve met her. Little does she know what bright future and days she has ahead of her! Happy Birthday, Little One!!

  • Honeybee Mama - amen! thanking our sweet jesus for your baby girl’s life and that he has made a way for her to come home to you. what a sweet and precious, sacrificial choice you have made to raise your ebenezer of hope and celebrate her though you are so far away!

  • Emily - What a wonderful celebration! And I agree with you: the Why part of the need isn’t what matters to those children – the fact is that the need exists and we can help. Good for you.

    Fingers crossed for travel plans that can be made concrete soon!

  • Stefanie - What a beautiful way to celebrate your little one’s special day, Ashley. I know this part of the wait is so hard, but soon it will be but a memory… and you are doing a fantastic job to make some pretty big memories of this time while you ‘wait’!
    Happy Birthday to your beautiful girl – what blessings await her!

  • amy cornwell - Happy birthday Little One! You are such a wonderful example to all of us. You’re transparent. You’re encouraging. You’re inspirational. You give to others generously (what an amazing idea to give to the shelter). Keep on keeping on. You’re being prayed for! She’ll be home soon and in your loving arms!

  • Roianne - Happy Birthday Song!!!! What a great way to celebrate her day, even though she couldn’t be there.

  • Paige Y. - Oh my! I’m teary & happy & excited all at the same time! As a birth mom myself, I have felt the delight and joy of meeting my son’s family. I witnessed my son being raised by a truly wonderful family when I knew( at the time he was born) I could not provide. One day you may have the chance to meet Little One’s first mom. I know it seems impossible now to be able to share the love in person, yet love can move mountains. And we know God is Love.
    P.S. My daughters birthday was this weekend too! Lots to celebrate!

  • Rebecca - Wow! I love that your sweet girl has already been a blessing to so many. God is using her life, and she doesn’t even know it yet. What a wonderful legacy of love and service you are passing down to your children!

  • Amy D - I love how you chose to celebrate your Little One! I’m hoping you find out later that she was celebrated in two countries!!! We might be getting travel news at the end of July too!

  • Natalie - What a beautiful way to celebrate! It’s already July- your little one will be here soon!

  • Molly - I love this! I am leaving to bring home my son on Friday… we missed his first birthday, we didn’t find out when it was for another 2 weeks, but I wish we had the opportunity to do something like this! I love that you had people bring things for the shelter, too. 🙂

  • Lindsay - I loved this post! Thank you for sharing. You truly are an inspiration. As I’m getting ready for my twin little ones to make their appearance I get so anxious about being a mom and reading your stories are just so calming. It reminds me that living for someone else is what’s important and I can’t wait to teach my kiddos to volunteer and help their community. God bless you and your family.

  • lindsey - what a perfect party! i just love your posts. can you please tell me where you get your energy to do all you do?? You are an inspiration!

  • Jacci in Ohio - No words, really. Just a big smile. And tears. And wanting to let you know that I will pray for Little One right now… there are Arms to hold her closely and comfort her baby heart.

  • Maran Buck - Happy Birthday to your new little girl! I wanted to tell you about some friends of mine who are also adopting a little girl from China! They leave in 11 DAYS to get her after a 16 month wait. God was working in their adoption from the very first day – On the very day they mailed in their application, their daughter was found abandoned and brought to the agency where she was then put up for adoption. When they were reading the information given to them about their new daughter and read that, they said they got chills and felt God’s hand working to bring them together.

    Just as you did, they also chose to be on the list for children with possible health issues. God blessed them with a little girl who has a minor heart murmur. Coincidentally, so does her new father and both new sisters!! God gave her a new family who has the exact same heart condition and will know the comfort of commonality with her new family.

    I am so excited for your family, even though we haven’t met, nor will we probably ever. May God bless your family with this newest addition!

  • Josephine - I hope one day all your children come to realise how bl**dy lucky they are to have you and Chris as parents. You’re setting them up to have rich, meaningful lives.

    I truly hope this next round of waiting is less torturous. May the force be with you all ;-

  • beth - i know “those kids” separated from their parents. after spending 3 years as a CASA {the most rewarding volunteering i have ever done and will ever do} my heart still remembers all those kids i worked with and how i worked so hard for them to make sure they were living in the very best possible homes we could put them in.

    my group home girl i got moved to a wonderful foster home. my teenager with a baby in the girls pregnant home i got moved to her very own apartment after many nail biting months. that baby was moved around unfortunately but i made sure her placement was as perfect as i could and eventually got her reunited with her mother.
    my little boy being adopted in the area was approved after i interviewed and okayed the home he was coming to, and all my other short term kids had the very best endings i could have wanted.

    here’s to you and your family with prayers for the rest of your little one’s adoption to go smoothly and as quickly as possible.

  • Jessica P - I love your heart and that your kids are growing up knowing the importance of helping others. One day Little One will be so happy and thankful for the beautiful celebration of her very first birthday. You gave her a tremendous gift…the first of many!

  • Nicolle S - What a beautiful celbration in honor of a beautiful girl. Your family is so special.

  • Kelli - Thank you, Ashley, for sharing a bit of your world with us.

  • ria - You are an awesome human being!

  • sarah k - Happy Birthday, Little One. Praying you are home with your beautiful family soon.

  • Melissa B - Happy Birthday, Little One!

    No one really remembers their first birthday. We only have pictures to see how our parents celebrated us. I think it’s AWESOME she’ll have pictures from her first birthday party. You are amazing, Ashley!

    Also, thank you for donating some of the diapers to foster families. That is so wonderful! My husband and I will be a licensed foster family on Thursday!! Can’t wait!

    One of the girls from Craft Weekend. 🙂

  • nancy - Oh happy birthday sweet girl! You are WELL loved from half a world away! That I know for sure!

  • Rach - its lovely that you have done this, im sorry in advance if this sounds rude i dont mean to be, but why didnt you adopt one of the many children in your state needing homes? Yes of course there are many children around the world needing homes but do you think that perhaps a chineese child would benifit from growing up in a chineese society with her culture and beliefs that is associated with where she is from.

  • Fliss - Happy Birthday little one.. soon she will be home… looking forward to seeing her with you all… as for BIG parties… Shauna hasn’t had one yet but she loves to get a cake and we all sing – that is her highlight…

  • Elizabeth - i LOVE that you celebrated your LITTLE ONE’s bday, even though she wasn’t there in person! she *will* feel SO celebrated & LOVED when she sees these tangible photos of her very first bday.
    BEAUTIFUL decor by the way ~ so so sunny & cheerful!

  • Katie R. - Oh how sweet!!! As a social worker who works with kids who are wards of the state…this post made me tear up! They are SO often forgotten and so many of their needs {sadly} go unmet. What a sweet way to honor your daughter by blessing so many others!!!

  • amber - Happy birthday to your sweet little one! And what a way to celebrate her. Praying for the Lord to bring her home to you very soon…

  • Natalie - Happy birthday Little One! What a wonderful way to celebrate her by blessing others! Praying that your family will be complete with your sweet Little One very, very soon!

  • Chris - So very excited to follow your adoption journey. I have a daughter from China and she is such a joy. And worth the wait. Your family and waiting daughter will be in my prayers.

  • Emily - Happy Birthday Little one! You will love reading about this one day and seeing all the pictures and know beyond the shadow of a doubt how loved you are! She is blessed with awesome parents!

  • kiley - Happy Birthday to your little girl! I think it’s pretty sweet that your daughter’s birthdays are near each other!

    Taking action in the ways you’ve done has been a huge blessing to so many! Jesus’ heart & love in action…that’s what I see.

  • Julia Leinen - beautiful. beautiful. you express in words and pictures what I also feel in my heart. thanks. happy birthday to your beautiful angel.

  • Becky - Your little one will be so lucky to have you as her Mom!
    Your family is so special and she is surely loved already.
    I hope your wait is not long now and look forward to seeing her pictures.

  • What we’re reading: links - […] Ann from Under the Sycamore recently celebrated her daughter’s first birthday, although her daughter is still waiting in China. Be sure to check out the beautiful way she […]

  • Amanda K. - Hi Ashley:) I love your blog! The other day I was looking for books to get for my daughter at the library and saw this book and thought of you and Little One. It’s called D is for Dancing Dragon: It’s an alphabet book that goes into detail about China. Hope y’all have a great day:)