This weekend we celebrated 4 years as a family of 7! On one hand I really never think about adoption, but on the other hand in some ways I think about it often. In the day to day life interactions with my kids – it is never on my mind. However, it comes up in other ways quite often. In questions others ask. In questions my kids as. When we want to see a movie and I know the theme centers around adoption or the loss of family, well those are the days I think about it a lot. We never talk about it and we talk about it all the time. That makes total sense – right?!

Each year at this time I find myself reading all the posts I wrote when we were on the journey to bring our youngest home. I am so thankful I wrote those posts. I wrote them with my daughter in mind, but didn’t realize how much they would mean to me. It is a beautiful thing to look back on and remember how I felt, but with the eyes of today. The whole series from that season is hands down my favorite posts on this blog.

As I read through them, I thought I would share this one today. It was written the day before we boarded a plane to China. I remember weeping as I wrote it, so unsure of what the future would hold.

8.12coffee-1If we could sit down and have a cup of coffee…

We’d meet early in the morning, before the kids are awake.

I’d make coffee…cream and sugar for me. Yours made to order.

We could sit out back at the picnic table or among the sawdust and nails in the studio. Either one is nice for chatting right now.

If we could sit down and have a cup of coffee this morning, friend to friend, I’d probably tell you something like this:

I’m getting on a plane in the wee hours of the morning tomorrow. I’m headed across continents and an ocean to meet my daughter. And while my heart is about to burst with excitement and joy it is also completely broken for my daughter. You see, my Little One has endured so much heartbreak. For 9 months she heard the familiar sound of the voice and heartbeat of her birth mom. I don’t know the reasons or the details, but I know shortly after her birth that relationship was broken. The voice she heard, the familiar sounds – were all gone. She endured a devastating loss. Her birth family also endured a great loss.

She then learned to adjust and survive among the new sounds and new voices of an orphanage. With about 42 babies in her room and 2 nannies, she has developed survival skills that a baby should never learn. And despite all the heartbreak that goes with her orphanage, it is her home. And we are told the nannies love those babies dearly. On Monday, she will again face a devastating loss. She will lose all that is familiar and be placed in my arms – the arms of a stranger.

I would do anything for her to be able to know my voice, to recognize my face, to see into my heart and know that her future is beautiful. I wish she could see and know what I know. But she doesn’t. And my heart shatters at the thought of the fear and grief that next week could hold for her.

It was 14 years ago that I knew one day I would adopt. Both adoption and pregnancy have always been our “Plan A” and we are beyond grateful that we’ve been able to grow our family both ways. We don’t take that gift for granted for a single moment. 14 years is a long time to wait for something. It is also a long time to research and learn all about the beauty of adoption and also about orphans, poverty that leads to abandonment, human trafficking….and all the other stuff that is part of a world where children are separated from their birth families. It is also a lot of time to learn to let go of any and all expectations. We go into this trip expecting nothing, but hoping for everything.

So much of this journey has been bittersweet. With each celebration, there is a bit of heartbreak. When I fill out a medical form for my Little One, it brings me such joy to write her name with “Campbell” at the end. And then I get to the medical history part and am reminded she will spend a lifetime not knowing so many details related to her start in life. And I hurt for her loss. I gaze at her beautiful face and am in complete awe. And then I also know that most likely that beautiful cleft that I adore might have played a role in why she is not with her birth family. And I ache for the pain she will one day feel. I imagine as she grows I will see so much of myself in her, but I will also wonder what parts of her are from her birth parents. And I mourn my daughter’s loss of not knowing her birth family. You see, next week I will rejoice and celebrate becoming a mom again, but in my celebrating it means another mom does not get to know the joy of raising the daughter she gave life to. And my heart breaks for that mom.

And, yet, I am so thankful for this bittersweet. This is all a part of the work God is weaving in me and in my Little One. So, I will embrace all of it. The grief. The joy. The fear. The excitement. The mourning. The celebrating. The ashes. The beauty. I will embrace all of it.

So, if we were sitting together drinking our coffee I’d thank you for coming along this journey with me. I’d thank you for your support, your encouragement, your excitement and your love. I’d thank you for celebrating my daughter. I’d ask you to pray for her, for her heart, for her healing. I’d ask you to recognize that while we are so overcome with happiness to meet our Little One and bring her home, the journey is really just beginning.

Thanks, friend….I’m so crazy excited and ready for the morning!!!

Would you dare, would you dare to believe

that you still got a reason to sing?

‘Cause the pain that you’ve been feeling

It can’t compare to the joy that’s coming

So hold on, you gotta wait for the light

Press on and just fight the good fight

‘Cause the pain you’ve been feeling

It’s just the hurt before the healing

Oh, the pain that you’ve been feeling

It’s just the dark before the morning

~ Josh Wilson, Before the Morning lyrics


You can read all the adoption journey posts on the Adoption Page. For the post that originally followed this one, click here.




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  • Southern Gal - Reading this again still does my heart in. To look back and see how it has all played out so far is so thrilling. God knew who her family would be! Thank you for sharing this intimate journey with us all over again. Happy Gotcha Day!

  • Martha - What a good Momma you are

  • Anne Marie - Thanks for sharing this heartwarming story! I dream of {my ? longs for} adopting a little girl… We have 4 boys and they would love a little sister… My husband casually mentions it often! But I don’t have much faith that it will ever happen… :'(
    So so glad it worked out for you!!! And I would LOVE to sit down to a cup of cream & sugar coffee with you! :)

  • Shira - Your adoption posts were what made me a devoted reader — the kind that wishes she knew you in person and would invite YOU over for coffee (and doughnuts! I have a sweet tooth). This post made me weep and smile again. You’re a gifted mama, and a lovely person. Thanks for writing, and please keep it up.

  • Byron - Wonderful picture at the end! God bless!

  • Debbie C - I remember reading these posts back then as I wiped many tears from my face. Such a blessing to watch your family grow through adopting your daughter. She is beyond blessed to be a Campbell!

  • Diana - I love love love this! We brought our (adopted) son home from the hospital at 2 weeks old and so he didn’t have much of a life before us (we became his parents when he was 10 days old) but still…I think about it all sometimes. I love reading your adoption posts!

  • angie webb - beautiful words! thank you for sharing your raw emotions.

  • Jessica - I remember reading this years ago and crying with you- at your beautifully written words and I’m still in awe. You have such a strong and wonderful spirit. If I am blessed to have children – I hope I have the grace you do with your little one, firecracker and your awesome boys.

  • Catherine - As a mother of 2 adopted twin-daughters now aged 7, I fully recognise myself in your words ! Thanks a lot for expressing this so good !

  • Kaylan - This makes me weep!! You have such a talent for writing. My husband and I are beginning our adoption journey. And like you it has been a long time in the making. I always knew I would adopt a baby, even as a little girl. I always adopted babies when I played with my Barbies. It’s so cool how God can place these desires in our hearts long before it comes to pass. Anyway, thanks for sharing some of your most personal writings.

  • Jill Murphy - This is a beautiful article! I have two beautiful girls we adopted from Korea. I too think about the loss they endured at the same moment the joy we gained. I also have a birth son who I chose adoption for because I was too young to be a mom. We have since reunited. Our family is beautiful and out of the norm and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  • Mirys - Morning, morning Campbells!
    If it´s been 4 years that you are all togheter… that means it´s been more than 5 or 6 that I read you (I think 9, to be fair!). Dayly! I hope you have received all the love, and tears, and prays, and smells of coffee I´ve sent you from Brazil. You all are such an inspiration!
    Kisses and blessings.

  • jules - I remember reading that post… so eloquent and inspirational! Happy 4 years as 7. Blessings!

  • Kath - Crying… We are sitting and waiting for the day when we can go and pick up our little boy from Korea and your words could be mine (except you’re far more eloquent). Love the words in that poem/song at the end: “‘Cause the pain that you’ve been feeling… It can’t compare to the joy that’s coming”. I will hang on to that as I worry so much about how hard it’ll be for him. Thanks for this lovely post xxxx

  • Lacey - I remember crying the first time I read this post and here I am crying again! <3 I'm astonished it has been 4 years already and it has been such a joy watching Little One grow.

  • Nicole C - I remember readying every single post religiously. I cannot thank you for sharing your journey in such detail. As someone who has never felt like she would be a Mom, my heart steers more towards adoption. Thank you for sharing your lives <3

In February of this year my oldest son and I traveled to Ecuador with Compassion International as part of a blogger trip. I won’t go into all those details again, but you can access those posts here.

Hundreds of you joined us and became sponsors for children living in poverty. Today – this post is for you.

Months have passed and maybe you have written your sponsored child regularly or maybe you started strong and it has been a bit since you last wrote. I want to encourage you to write your sponsored child today. Sometimes we all need a little nudge to be reminded to do things that deep down we really want to do, but life distracts us.

I also know many of you may still be waiting for a letter from your sponsored child. In any country it takes a while for letters to make their way to sponsors. It is a tremendous undertaking to get letters from every sponsored child. In a country like Ecuador that has recently faced a huge natural disaster – well, it complicate the process more. We typically get 2 letters a year from our sponsored kids. Seeing how much effort and man power it takes to get letters to sponsors, I am celebrating even getting 2!

On the flip side, letters are delivered monthly to Compassion Centers. Your sponsored kids are waiting to hear from you. They are waiting for your pictures. For your stories. For your notes to simply say you care. Being a sponsor is a selfless act and in the case of sponsorship it often means pouring into a child without any expectations.

I’ve seen the faces of kids reading letters – what seems small to you, is huge to these kids.

I wanted to give you a peek into the Compassion headquarters in Ecuador. When you write your sponsored child, your letter first arrives here. The letters are translated here and then divided up by centers before being delivered monthly.

3.16CompassionLetters-013.16CompassionLetters-023.16CompassionLetters-033.16CompassionLetters-043.16CompassionLetters-053.16CompassionLetters-083.16CompassionLetters-093.16CompassionLetters-10What starts with you sitting down to write a letter or pulling up the Compassion app to type one leads to something extraordinary….



It is the weekend…lets make sure we do something completely worthwhile with our time! Will you join me?

For extra tips on writing letters, here are a few links:

A post I wrote about seeing kids in Ecuador with their letters & writing tips

Compassion Pinterest Board with ideas by age

3 Letter Writing Ideas

Tips for using the Compassion App for letter writing


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  • Michelle - Love this!
    Thanks to your trip in February and outreach for Compassion, I sponsored a child in Ecuador as well. It was the best feeling. I have been writing periodically, even though I have yet to hear from my sponsored child. I have his picture on my wall as a daily reminder and to know that even though I may not hear from him, he is receiving the support, love and prayers he needs.

  • Sarah Kinnard - This brings up a question I’ve been wondering about: I have been wanting our family to start sponsoring a child, but recently read this article which gave me pause, as it describes a sponsorship situation in which the funds sent go not directly to the child but to the community, and the child and family are unaware of the sponsorship and bewildered by periodic mail they cannot read:

    I’m glad to see that Compassion translates the letters. In other areas, do you consider the Compassion program to be significantly different in structure and outcome than World Vision’s? I am not trying to be cynical, just was very disheartened by that article and wondered if sponsorship really makes as much difference as I always thought it did.

  • Tracie M. - My family sponsors 2 children and I love writing to them. Thank you for showing us how much they love getting letters! Good to know that this matters!

  • Katie T - Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    This was the push I needed to get on track and write my dearest Obed.
    Thank you!

For most families, school is back in session and it is a perfect time for many adults to begin learning something new too. I know how hard it is to find time for online courses that require logging in at a certain time or with limited access. In January, I combined my SnapShop: DSLR and SnapShop:Phone courses into one online photography website with new lessons added monthly. Instead of logging in at a certain time or only having couple weeks to access content, the new site is subscription based. As a subscriber you have access to all the content for as long as you keep your membership. The monthly membership costs less than a fancy latte.

For the first time…I’m holding a flash sale! The initial registration fee will be 50% off for TODAY only! The registration fee will be discounted to $25 (normally $50)

Flash Sale started at 12:00am CST on August 24th and end at 11:59pm CST on August 24th.

Registration includes access to all SnapShop content (used by over 3000 students since 2009), including:

  • SnapShop DSLR Course (a $200 value)
  • SnapShop Phone Course (a $50 value)
  • Interviews & tips with leading photographers & bloggers
  • Course discussions
  • Additional lessons posted monthly by Ashley Ann and guests!

To register click here and use the code: Back2School

Discount code is case sensitive and can be entered at checkout.  Subscriptions will renew for $5.00 monthly to maintain access to existing content and new lessons!  

Below is a glimpse at a few of the lessons. To see a listing of all the lessons and courses included and a FAQ page answering common questions visit the SnapShop website.











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  • tiffany. - I took the DSLR course a few years ago and LOVED it! It covered the same material as a classroom photography course I took but was SO much more approachable and easier to understand. I also love that it told me not just what my camera was capable of, but also what settings I might consider for specific shots I wanted to capture (and there was a wide variety). The way the material made concepts easy but still challenged me to take better photos was fantastic. I just signed up for the subscription – thanks for the flash sale! – but wanted others to know I would highly recommend the course/subscription in case they’re on the fence.

  • Mrs Mike - so excited, I’ve been wanting to sign up for this since I got my camera for Christmas. Thanks!!

  • Devon - Super excited – definitely signing up. I was a part of your original online DSLR course and have been such a slacker signing back up. Thanks for doing the flash sale!

  • Julie - Thank you so much for this sale! I’ve been wanting to join for several months. I began reading through/practicing from the Phone Course today and it’s already been so helpful!!

  • KC - Yay! I just signed up. I love your talent of sharing your daily stories with us, and I am excited to learn from you.

  • Kathie M. - Hey Ashley!! I am so excited and have taken advantage of your sale!! Now I was wondering will my renewal fee be taken on the same day each month? I just want to make sure I am ready for it to come out of my account each month! I can’t wait to get learning new things!

    **Happy Dance**

  • Lexie Cook - I’m so excited to start this! I’ve been wanting to do it for a while but could never get up the courage. The discount definitely helped. I’ve got a 1 year old with one on the way so I’m looking forward to being able to learn ways to capture all the great moments. Thank you!

  • NdT - I just love your photographic style. It rally captures every day life is such a great way.
    I signed up last night & this is by far the coolest online course ever. Cameras can be so intimidating sometimes, this makes it so much more approachable.
    Thank you!