Photography by Melissa Bliss Photography
Meet Mingmei. She is Beauty Revived.
Michelle, when did you know you wanted to adopt?
After I had our son, doctors recommended against another pregnancy. We knew our family wasn’t complete. We looked into several avenues of adoption but were lead to a Special Needs adoption in China.
Tell me about your adoption:
We worked with an agency who helped us through each step. We were living in Japan when we got the first pictures of our daughter. We waited several months before we could travel to China. Mingmei was 10 months old when we were matched, and 15 months old when we visited China. My heart ached because I had to trust complete strangers to take care of my daughter until I could get to her. We loved her without ever having met her.
We read about Love Without Boundaries, the organization that performed Mingmei’s first lip repair surgery, we felt we wanted to help extend that blessing to someone else’s child. We were later thrilled to be able to connect with Mingmei’s surgical team and the child that we had sponsored.
Once in China, we went to a hotel with 4 or 5 other families. Within minutes nannies and babies walked in. From that moment on, she was with us.
Tell me about Mingmei:
Mingmei is a very determined child. She has a huge heart and often talks about sending things to kids in China who don’t have what she has. She was born with a cleft lip and palate and has gone through nearly 10 surgeries and countless hours of therapy. She doesn’t back down from a challenge and has surpassed some expectations by leaps and bounds. Mingmei is artistic, dramatic, and loves to sing and dance. She is a kind friend and sister. She is wise beyond her years at times. After her recent surgery, she expressed apprehension about facing classmates who might say something about her fresh scars or the stint in her nose. Following a moment of reflection she said, “Well, they probably haven’t ever known a girl born with a hole in her face and if they are still mean, they aren’t my real friends anyway.” That’s pretty amazing awareness for a 7 year old.
Mingmei volunteers as a peer model at the Mea’Alofa Autism Support Center. She and our family are active members with Community Church, and support Rakki-Inu Akita Rescue.
What has been most difficult about your journey?
There is a void in Mingmei’s heart that we cannot fill. She asks questions about her “birthday mom” and we do not know the answers. We talk about and celebrate how much her birthday mom loved her and that she made certain Mingmei was well cared for until we could come to China to get her; that was God’s plan for her. We have been blessed with an amazing daughter, but inherent in that process is pain. We continue to work on embracing this part of our family story.
What has been the biggest blessing?
She is. She makes us smile and laugh every day. The joy that exudes from Mingmei is unlike anything else. Mingmei loves to share her story, whether that be walking up to a new friend and exclaiming, “I’m from China, want to play?” or explaining that the flowers during our Chinese New Year celebration are for her birthday mom.
What would you like other people to know about adoption?
Families are made in different ways but they are still families just the same. People often say to us, “She is so lucky you adopted her” and we reply, “We are so lucky and thankful she is family.” The process can be daunting at times but it is not impossible. We have been blessed with two amazing children, in different ways.
What’s the best thing about your family?
The thing I like about my family is you guys have been nice to me for the last couple of years and I’m proud to be part of the family. Our family likes to help people out and even though we go through rough times we also go through good times and still love each other and that’s all that matters.
What makes you proud?
When I get to move up to the next level in gymnastics. When I complete something that is really hard and when I finally do it and you guys cheer for me, that makes me proud. I feel proud when I make something by myself for the family.
What do you hope to do when you grow up?
I would like to be a person that rescues lost dogs. I will take care of them and help them get adopted. I also want to be on American Ninja Warrior.
About the Photographer
Since 2011, Melissa has specialized in documenting real moments in engagement, wedding, and family photography in the coastal region of Hampton Roads, VA. Inspired by emotion, movement and details, she is a lover of golden light, deep shadows and dramatic black and whites. She chooses to focus her lens on the beautiful connections we make in life – to our loved ones, to what stirs our souls, and to the world around us. Melissa is a homeschooling mom of 4 who enjoys exploring art and nature, traveling to new destinations, and trying new cuisines with her fantastic hubby of 15 years.