ACPA Family Services

Cleft-Craniofacial Community Stories

The Stewart Family

My husband I adopted eleven children.  Two of our three South Korean children were born with clefts.  Molly had a bi-lateral cleft lip and palate.  Amy was born with a unilateral, 3-11 craniofacial cleft lip and palate.

When Molly was nine, we had four children.  Our other three were from America.  One day she asked for a sister that looked just like her.  If she had asked for a pony, I could have refused, emphatically.  However, she asked to not be alone in a very white family.

We requested a little girl with a cleft lip and palate from the adoption agency so that Molly’s sister would indeed look like her.  After a year and a half of waiting, we were placed with a little girl without a cleft who was a year-and-a-half old.  Molly had her Korean sister!  We then asked for a little boy so that we could have three of each:  three boys and three girls.

A few months later, the adoption agency told us they had a little baby girl with a cleft and would we want her?  I impulsively said that we would take her, without even asking my husband about it!  He agreed, thankfully!  Amy was born in December, just like Molly.  She is from Pusan, just like Molly.  She had a right ear perforation, just like Molly.  She came home in October at age ten months, just like Molly.  She is growing up beautifully and healthfully, just like Molly.

Unlike Molly, who had seventeen operations including a mid-face advancement, Amy will only require a handful of operations.  She is beautiful, talented and intelligent, just like Molly.

Although it was difficult getting Molly through the syringe feedings, operations, years of speech therapy, and operations, it has been a joy.  That is why we requested another little girl, just like her.

Both of our girls are amazing young ladies.  Molly, our twenty-four-year-old,
graduated college a year early and received her master’s degree by age twenty-three.  Amy, our eleven-year-old, competes in Level Seven Gymnastics.  She has taken the state titles twice, in levels four and six.  We hope that she will be able to compete at the national level next year.  She is truly amazing!

We have confronted unique challenges.  We had to syringe feed Molly, which was difficult.  We would grease the syringe with butter then suck in blenderized food.  That is how she ate her first birthday cake.

When Molly was two and had a post-operative, Logan Bow taped to her face, a little girl asked her mother what was wrong with my baby.  The mother quickly yanked her child away and reacted as though Molly was a freak of nature.

Molly also wore reverse head-gear for a couple of years.  Home schooling helped to provide an escape from criticism.  She could take it off when she was in public.  It also created a flexible time frame so that Molly could have operations when they were needed.  Sometimes we just finished school in late July.

Amy practices in the gym twenty hours a week.  Her competition season begins in the fall.  It is more difficult to schedule her operations so that she can practice and compete without interference.

Once, Molly spoke with me about Amy.  She said, “Mom, Amy’s face is a little screwed up, but she’s so pretty.”

I replied, “Do you get it, Molly?”  She smiled.  She did.

Molly’s cleft was a precious gift from God.  If she hadn’t been born with it, we wouldn’t have been able to adopt her.  Consequently, we would have missed out on having Amy as our daughter.  Thank God for clefts and sisters!