When a baby was born, her birth mom abandoned her because of what she looked like. The infant had a rare skin condition, and doctors said she wouldn't survive. Despite this, a couple saw something special when they met her.
Treating everyone with kindness is always a good idea because we never know what someone else is facing. People suffer many visible and invisible conditions, and their struggles are often made worse by nasty and inconsiderate comments.
The explosion of social media has increased the risk of bullying significantly, and one young woman faced unimaginable pain at the hands of keyboard warriors. Read her inspirational story and discover how she found the strength to keep smiling.
TOLD TO FORGET ABOUT THE BABY
Mui Thomas was born in China, and her birth parents quickly "signed her off" and wanted nothing more to do with her. However, in 1994, Tina and Rog Thomas decided to foster the red-skinned child needing a home.
They expected the baby would only be in their care for a short time because doctors told them, "Mui will die in infancy." Another health professional also encouraged Tina to forget about the baby and start a family with her husband.
THE ODDS WERE STACKED AGAINST HER
Mui's chances of survival were slim because of her skin condition, Harlequin ichthyosis. It affected her appearance and caused her life to be riddled with many questioning eyes and sideways glances.
During her high school years, bullies said that she shouldn't have been born, and the constant ridicule left Mui feeling broken and ready to give up.
Medical experts predicted she would pass away during the first years of her life, so Tina and Rog stepped in to provide her with a loving home for as long as she needed. Tina recalled the first time she saw Mui:
"She came into the room and I could see this spirit. I could see she wanted to have fun. She wanted to get on with it."
THEY CHOSE TO ADOPT
Mui was one and a half years old when the couple started fostering her, and they were surprised to watch her grow and thrive as a toddler.
When Mui was three, her foster parents decided to adopt her and looked forward to embarking on a journey with the girl they had come to know and love. Rog shared:
"We met her in a hospital, and my wife told us that we'd look after our daughter for about a weekend and that was 20 years ago so it has been a very long weekend."
FATE HAD DIFFERENT PLANS
Sadly, the couple faced immense judgment, violent opposition, and insults because they chose to adopt Mui. Tina and Rog could conceive a baby naturally and planned to grow their family, but fate had other plans. Rog stated:
"We were volunteers and had agreed to visit Mui for a few weeks that summer before starting our new life and a family in Australia. Plans change!!! Mui became our daughter, and our journeys became entwined forever!"
THE HARSH ONLINE BULLYING
Tina, Rog, and Mui became a perfect trio. Moreover, Mui's parents helped her manage her condition well and keep moving forward. However, their journey wasn't easy, and Mui faced immense hatred from onlookers around her.
"Being cyberbullied was a horrible experience, I was in shock at the idea of someone who wanted to do this to me ... those comments really cut me to the bone. Ultimately they made me want to commit suicide."
HER EMOTIONAL SCARS
Social media allowed for a constant stream of cyberbullying, and the youngster struggled to move forward. One of her online bullies knew personal details about her life, and Mui was devastated and worried the bully was a friend.
She struggled to trust the people in her life and only found comfort when the bully was located by authorities. She recalled the moment she discovered the bully's identity and expressed:
"He was a friend in my school that I'd known since primary school. When I got home, I found my father in the study upstairs. I cried in his arms ... but my tears that day also included some relief."
Mui no longer needed to worry about who she could trust, and she was grateful her parents assisted in healing the emotional scars. They also helped her to do something incredible.
SHE FOUND ACCEPTANCE IN AN UNLIKELY PLACE
Mui left school without qualifications, but that didn't stop her from doing something amazing. Despite the unimaginable pain, she turned her life around and credited her parents with sticking by her side and providing the support she needed.
The young woman found acceptance in an unexpected place, changing her life forever. She shared:
"I found something that was both inclusive and welcoming. I discovered rugby."
Her father loved rugby, and Mui decided she wanted to play the sport. However, Rog warned her nobody would tackle someone with her skin condition. She knew he was right, but she didn't give up.
THE FEELING SHE ALWAYS DREAMED OF
With her dad's encouragement, Mui got involved in the administrative side of the sport.
She progressed from keeping score to serving as a rugby referee, an endeavor that allowed her to forget about her skin condition. The successful referee said:
"Being in the kit allows me that feeling that I've always dreamed of, fitting in with everybody else because if people shout at me on a rugby field it's one of the coaches complaining about a decision that I've made.
HER STORY IS TOUCHING LIVES
Mui spreads awareness on behalf of people with visible differences, and her story has inspired many. When the family decided to share their journey after 20 years of silence, they were surprised by the response and support.
Mui's page, The Girl Behind the Face, has provided a platform for encouragement and love. Citizens struggling with their own conditions find comfort listening to her brave journey, and they express gratitude for her positivity.
People with Mui's condition don't have a high life expectancy, and in 2015, the oldest person alive was 31. Mui is the fourth oldest, and her parents have high hopes that their daughter will continue to thrive.
SMILING IS THE ANSWER
The love provided by Mui's adoptive parents carried her and helped her beat the odds. She is a survivor and hopes people will learn something from her journey. With joy written on her face, she said:
"Meet people, make connections, have a really strong support network, and also be open. If you're struggling it's okay to speak out and smile—smiling helps a lot."
Click here for another inspiring story about a child that defied the odds and overcame extreme challenges. Despite being abandoned by her birth parents, the youngster became a world-renowned gymnast.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org
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