Christian Hadjipateras is part of our Craniofacial Acceptance Month speakers' week. You can watch his video about how he views acceptance of his facial difference below.
A few weeks ago his mother, Marianna, shared with us this testimonial about her experiences raising and caring for Christian. We hope you enjoy what she shared with us. Welcome to the CCA community, Marianna.
I have been wanting to write something for a long time now, ever since my son Christian got involved with your wonderful organisation.
Where to start? Christian was born in London, UK in August 1984. It was my first pregnancy and I had quite a few scans- nothing whatsoever had been detected. Christian was delivered by emergency C-section and because I had elected to be fully anaesthetised, my husband and close family all saw Christian before I did. The doctor wanted me to get my strength back before I met my baby. One day, my mum and my aunt had gone to the paediatric ICU to visit Christian and they saw a nurse taking a Polaroid photo of him : " To show Mummy before she meets baby ....." I later heard that some mums cannot accept their babies and somehow they thought a photo would "prepare " me in a gentler way..... Simultaneously though, I myself realised that if I didn't see my baby soon I may have suffered some sort of breakdown. My husband had been trying to describe what Christian looked like but it was difficult. I have to admit that I didn't even know what a cleft palate was let alone the many other Craniofacial abnormalities he had. .. No matter. It was love at first sight! For all of us. It transpired that the doctors were also very puzzled by the extremely complex and unusual combination of facial differences. They initially thought that the cleft went all the way up to the top of his head and that the frontal lobe of the brain would have been affected. It wasn't.
I will not dwell too much on what happened for the next twenty five years or so but suffice it to say that Christian underwent almost 50 surgeries. The life changing procedures took place in Paris, London, Chicago and Los Angeles.
I am not trained to be a counsellor but I am very open to to helping other parents in any way I can. I feel particularly strongly about this because when Christian was born we had no support groups to turn to. I realise now how profoundly VITAL this support is ....This is why organisations such as yours, Facing the Future in Chicago, and Changing Faces (founded in the UK in 1992) do such amazing work. I am very happy and proud that Christian is involved with CCA.
I wish with every fibre of my being that one day we can live in a society that is without prejudice, preconceptions, intrusiveness and tactlessness and that we will all see the essence of each other with our hearts and with eyes of love.