By Rasheera Dopson
(Editor's Note: Rasheera sent us this reflection about our Annual Retreat and Educational Symposium in the days following our time at the Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City at the end of June 2018. Thank you for your thoughtful words, Rasheera.
Scottsdale, Arizona will play host for our families next year. )
I have read about my syndrome many times online, but there is nothing better than being in a room full of people who look exactly like me. The feeling is indescribable. My take away from the Annual Family Retreat and Educational Symposium this year is this one sentiment -- “some things can’t be taught but have to be experienced.”
For most of my life I have always felt a void. I felt as though I never fit in or belonged. For a long time I looked for acceptance in other places. And even though I have read about acceptance and kindness in different books I could never really understand what that truly meant until I entered a room filled with acceptance and kindness at retreat. CCA is different. They take the idea of acceptance and kindness and translate it into a actual experience. Experiencing first hand the genuine love, kindness, and acceptance at the CCA retreat has healed my heart more than any reconstructive surgery.
Sometimes people misconstrue thinking that if we just looked normal then all of our problems would go away, but that is so far from the truth. I would proudly walk around with the same face and smile as long as I knew that there were others that loved and supported me despite my facial difference. Like all individuals with a craniofacial condition, I am not looking for perfection, but instead looking for acceptance.
My thoughts may seem a little sporadic, but that’s love sometimes; it can be a little unconventional and spontaneous. At this year's retreat I experienced genuine love. It was like God was showing me through CCA his love for my difference and disability. It's so important for spaces to be created for children and adults with facial difference or disabilities because it exposes each child to an environment that celebrates who they are.