Last night, my cousin tagged me in a Facebook post about a newborn baby with Treacher Collins Syndrome. When first finding out she was pregnant, the biological mother planned on giving her up for adoption. A facial anomaly was unknown during the pregnancy and the mother simply couldn’t handle a child at the time. Adoptive parents were chosen and on the day of the birth, they waited at the hospital for their new baby to arrive. Once she made her appearance into the world, the adoptive mother went to meet her new daughter, but quickly emerged from the room crying and left the hospital never to return. Adopting a child with preexisting conditions requires certain approvals that this family hadn’t obtained, nor had they known to obtain since nothing seemed out of the ordinary prior to the birth. When they left the hospital, they cried because they lost the baby, not because they didn’t want the baby.
This got me thinking though. How many potential adoptive parents shun newborn babies because they don’t fit certain expectations?
The funny thing about imperfections is that they’re not only visible. A child could be born physically perfect, and down the road she may suffer from silent, life altering conditions: heart conditions, severe depression, schizophrenia. What then? How would those parents have reacted when those issues arose? Would they have abandoned her then? I’d say those potential parents who do dismiss an imperfect child need to mature a bit more before they bring home any living being. No road is guaranteed to be rosy and problem-free.
In this instance the child’s biological mother stepped up and decided to keep the baby as her own. For this, I wanted to say a heartfelt THANK YOU for making the choice to love the physical flaws.
This letter goes out to any mother forced to make the instantaneous decision to keep an imperfect child.
To the mother of any baby abandoned by her biological or adoptive parents because she was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome:
I’d like to say thank you for keeping this baby when the other parents hightailed it at the first sign of abnormality. Treacher Collins Syndrome is not a curse. It may turn your reality upside down a time or two, and bring you moments of heartbreak and tears, but what life doesn’t promise this?
In truth, this child is much better off with you than with the potential family that abandoned her because of her looks. By deciding to keep this child with her obvious anomaly, it shows me you embody compassion and strength. Only the weak would choose to cower in fear of the imperfect. Your baby does not need such weakness; she needs your strength. She needs to grow up believing in endless possibilities. She needs to be raised in an environment that won’t judge her with one glance. She needs to learn never to make excuses for why she can’t do something, because there will never be a valid reason. Her facial anomaly creates a physical difference, but her heart, mind, and soul offer complete normalcy.
You will endure some trying times. Should you choose the path of reconstructive surgeries, your heart will break for her, but don’t ever leave her side. She’ll need your strength. She’ll feed off of it. She’ll embody it. Surgeries will swiftly become distant memories, and 33 years later you’ll be penning a letter to some complete stranger who chose to accept Treacher Collins with open arms. Thank you for the reminder that my flaws are only flaws if I see them as such.
This is my advice for you: be the best parent you can be, treat your daughter as if she were any other child, and help her grow into the same compassionate individual who would lovingly welcome an abandoned infant.
Treacher Collins Syndrome is not the end-all-be-all. Trust me, I know first hand. Like me, your daughter is fully capable of living an extraordinary life! Never doubt this. Treacher Collins may not be everyone’s normal, but it is now your normal. Welcome it. Embrace it. Own it. And never quit helping your child show the world the beauty of a facial abnormality.
All the best,