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I remember the day we got "the call."  It was a Wednesday and I was at the front desk of a successful real estate agency where I was filling in for a friend until they replaced their receptionist.  Our deal was, if I got "the call," I would be able to leave immediately.  Well, here it was, and I could feel my pulse pounding - my head reeling as I came to realize that I was finally to become a mother.

The call came from my husband.  "Honey, I just got off the phone with our adoption lawyer.  They have a little boy for us.  He's been in the hospital for six days - they can't find parents for him and he's headed for Children's Services.  It seems he has cleft lip and palate.  What do you think?"

What did I think?  I thought YES! 

What a glorious day that was!  We had an hour to pick a name, make plans and research the anomaly that affected our son.  Our son!  How beautifully that simple phrase rang in our ears!  We couldn't wait for him to arrive the next day.  We entered "Nursery Nirvana" a place where, ten years later, we remain still.  But we were lucky.

Research was difficult.  We were not online and had to depend on local libraries and physicians.  Thankfully, the doctor who had done the "well baby" letter asked to be our pediatrician and set up an appointment with a plastic surgeon the day after our child arrived.  Had it not been for this man's kindness, we would have been lost.

We went for four years without support or in-depth information.   Yes, our plastic surgeon is famous for his skills and he is a caring and gentle man.  What we needed, however, was the contact of other parents who had walked the road before us.  Thrice we handed our beloved son over to strangers and watched as he was wheeled through the double doors into surgery.    Family and friends supported us, but as we stood there, the two of us, holding hands and holding on to each other, we were alone - until we finally went on line and found Widesmiles.

What I propose to do is offer a series of articles written by the amazing woman who founded Widesmiles.  Through her website and chat group, Cleft Talk, we found the information and support to empower us as advocates for our child.

We also discovered areas to aid us in supporting friends and acquaintances.  As adoptive parents, we did not go through some of the grieving processes birth parents do.  In that we were lucky again.  Through Widesmiles, we were able to reach out to those who needed support through those first crucial years.  I am hoping to pass this power on to you.

If you know of someone facing this anomaly alone, these articles will hopefully help you to reach out to them and give them the empowerment to enjoy the wonderful gift they have been given.  With that, I offer you the first in a series of articles on Living With Cleft Lip and Palate.


Famous People Born With Cleft Lip and Palate

Reverend Jesse Jackson
Tom Brokaw

Jason Robards
Mary Crosby
Cheech Marin

Stacy Keech



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