Today is the day that our 9 month old will have a surgery done to fix her cleft palate. I wrote this ahead of time so it would post on the day of her surgery.
If Evelyn was born in another country, she would not be having her palate surgery done today by a talented and accomplished plastic surgeon in a well known Children's Hospital.
She would likely, instead, be failing to thrive. Instead of 22lbs of chunk-o cutieness, she'd likely be struggling to get the nutrients she needs. If she was born in an area where breast feeding is truly the only option....well I don't want to think about what would happen because babies with her issues can not form a latch and therefore can not breastfeed.
If she was born in China it is possible that she would be left on the streets because she was born with a birth defect. She may be placed in an orphanage and put on a list of babies that people can get more quickly than "a healthy child", as long as they are willing to deal with the imperfection that her parents could not.
That's not even taking into consideration the majority of mother and fathers who would not dream of abandoning their child due to a cleft lip or palate, no matter what country. There are moms just like me who are desperately trying to feed their babies, trying to find care for them somewhere and somehow.
I think Operation Smile is known for the wrong thing. Before my Evie came along, all I knew of OS consisted of the many pictures of celebrities visiting other countries and having photo ops with children who had clefts.
The truth is the celebrities don't really matter. What matters is the work done by the medical teams. They go into areas where babies, children and even adults can finally get the kind of care that has come so easily to Evelyn. They will perform hundreds of surgeries in one day, simply to fit in everyone they possibly can. They will tirelessly raise money to try and return to help the ones they could not fit in.
Aside from surgery, one of the most significant things OS does is raise money for simple items via their "Giving Catolog". You can make a donation and purchase bottles, antibiotics, warm blankets, and even fund a surgery. My favorite thing to purchase are the bottles. The hospital sent us home with 6 Mead Johnson bottles, making our lives so much easier. I always wonder what would have done on our own?
When Operation Smile visits an area they leave major change in their wake. Babies are able to eat, children can have a better shot at a normal future, and adults can finally fit into society. The stigma of cleft in a small village is horrible and those afflicted are usually treated quite poorly. If we pushed aside people with clefts in our society, we would have missed out on Tom Brokaw, Joaquin Phoenix, Jesse Jackson, Stacy Keach, and Peyton Manning.
I encourage you to "Like" Operation Smile on Facebook , you will be amazed by the stories in your Facebook news feed.
This is my little PSA about cleft lip and palate foundations and why they are so important. Babies born with these issues will have eating, hearing, speech and dental issues. But things can be so much better if they just get the supplies they need for feeding and the surgeries to correct their very treatable issues.
I won't ask you to give money, but just give them some thought today on behalf of Evie.
And also, if you call it a "harelip", I will have to beat on you just a little.