Mountain Grove’s Anneliese and Jared Ellis have always wanted to be parents. After ten years of trying to conceive, they decided that it was time to look at other options. Their journey began as foster parents. When the six month-old Miitnee, also called Mighty, joined their family, they became complete. The Ellis family welcomed him with open arms. In return, he filled their lives with joy. Being Miitnee’s mom became Anneliese’s calling. As they raise Miitnee, the Ellis family and their relatives find a sense of love and fullness that they had always imagined. I got an opportunity to photograph the Ellis family as they welcomed me with open arms letting me document moments of their family as they raise their son, Miitnee. Their endless love, humility and devotion is grounding.
Miitnee listens to his mother as they wait for Jared to join a family breakfast on Saturday morning. A working mom, Anneliese wakes up first in the house and begins her errands as early as 4:30 A.M. on most days of the week.
Anneliese gives her great grandmother Audra Jackson a haircut at their house in Mountain Grove. Trained as a cosmetologist, Anneliese, 35, co-founded her hair salon, The Shop, with her friend Tana Byerly two years ago.
Miitnee shares a fun moment with his great-grandfather Bill Jackson as he plays on his iPad. He makes a joke as Miitnee loses a game, saying, “they keep knocking you out, don’t they?”
Miitnee shares a close relationship with his parents’ grandparents and great-grandparents. Anneliese and Jared were raised in a close-knit families and they hope to raise their son the same.
Anneliese Ellis said she felt nervous and terrified initially, but that she and her husband Jared took him in with open arms. They prepared for his arrival within 24 hours and have cared for him since. In May 2016, the Ellis family adopted him as their son.
Miitnee gets into car after his mother Anneliese picks him up from the baby-sitter. Anneliese’s daily chores revolve mostly around Miitnee. “I am honored that God entrusted his child to be my earthly child,” Anneliese said.
A joyful three-year-old, Miitnee’s hero is Michael Jordan. He also loves playing with pets, often like to dress like a cowboy and enjoys the occasional ice-cream treat.
Miitnee looks up in a fun gesture at the wall hangings in his living room.
Miitnee sits with his dad Jared on an excavator as his dad takes a break at work. Miitnee often visits his dad Jared Ellis, 35, an independent excavating contractor, at work as he enjoys excavating tricks.
Miitnee gives his dad Jared a kiss as he leaves for work. The Ellis’ believe that Miitnee was an answer to their years of praying for a baby.
Miitnee attends Church thrice a week with his parents and family friends. His mother Anneliese, believes that Church is important because the Bible says in Proverbs 22:6: Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. It's important to get the child grounded and rooted in faith because its what structures our lives.