As many of you know, my daughter Isabella was born with a complete unilateral cleft lip and palate, meaning that there was a gap through her lip and jaw and her palate was open. (Bilateral would mean two gaps).
Her lip was repaired in China when she was about a year old (we recently did a revision to pretty up that scar, and she’ll have another revision this summer). China, however, didn’t repair her palate. That was repaired when she was 3 1/2 years old, after we adopted her. I blogged about the surgery here
Many people don’t realize how important it is to have a corrected lip and palate. Babies can’t suck with a cleft. Speech is completely impossible.
And the kids often have decades of surgery ahead of them. (Isabella will be having a bone graft this summer, taking bone from her hip to fill the gap in her jaw; she’ll also be having a lip revision. In a few years, she’ll have surgery to actually move her jaw forward. That’s in addition to the three surgeries she’s already had. And she’s one of the lucky ones; some kids born with clefts have many, many more).
The support of charities that help kids around the world with cleft lips and palates is something near and dear to my heart. I personally support Love Without Boundaries (and Half the Sky, which helps with educating orphans in China). But there is another organization that sends out doctors to repair the cleft lips/palates of kids, and that organization is The Smile Train.