You'll find hundreds of files on cleft lip, cleft palate here on widesmiles.org.
This one is about: Pre-Surgical Photos - Yes or No?
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PRE-SURGICAL PHOTOS: YES OR NO
In response to the question, "Do you have pre-surgical pictures of your child? Why or why not?" WIDE SMILES received and published the following responses from parents and persons born with cleft:
"Yes! A few days after our daughter's birth someone sent me a 'Dear Abby' column which had responses to readers about this very question. Many wrote to say that they wished their parents had taken pre-surgery pictures because they were curious about what they looked like. After my daughter's first surgery at 6 weeks I couldn't believe how different she looked. A part of me missed her "Wide Smile". Looking back I only wish we had taken MORE pictures!"
"Yes, we have one. That was all we were given, so that's all we have. It is in our daughter's photo album, but not prominently displayed. The reasons are: Our daughter is adopted and we didn't meet her until she was almost three, long after her restoration was done. We never even saw a pre-surgical photo until a few years after we had accepted her. Also, the fact is that many people in our society are not understanding of physical imperfections. Therefore I have chosen not to display this photo. She knows how to access it. She can look at it or show it to anyone she wishes as she chooses."
"My photo albums are overflowed with pictures of my son before, during and after surgery. To not photograph him would have been a discredit to the questions he will someday pose. He will ask about his scar and I will have photos and videos to help him understand. I couldn't bear the thought of him thinking I was ashamed of his face and think that is why he has no baby pictures."
"There is a hole in my life that will never be filled. My parents were too ashamed of my face to have it photographed when I was born. I had a cleft lip and they could not accept that. Now I am 23 years old and writing to retired doctors and distant hospitals just hoping that someone somewhere thought to take a picture of me - if only to show how much better it would look after surgery. If your child has a cleft, PLEASE take her picture. Don't take it for yourself. You never have to look at it after it's taken. Hide it in a drawer if you have to. Take it for your child, because it's your child's face, not yours, and someday she may want to know what it looked like."
WIDE SMILES was unable, due to space considerations, to publish all of the responses that came in in response to the question posed. However, not one respondent suggested that pre-surgical photos NOT be taken. Several respondents reported that they chose not to take pre-surgical photos and then regretted that decision. Nobody regretted having had them taken. Most suggested taking professional studio portraits.
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