How Having a Son With a Cleft Turned Javier Into a Superdad

Just the story you need this Father’s Day

Javier Anzo may seem like your everyday guy. He lives in Mexico City with his wife, Olivia; eight-year-old son, Santino; and five-year-old son, Damián. But he is, in fact, far from ordinary; he is a super dad, and his powers came to him unexpectedly six years ago, when he was unable to make one of Olivia’s ultrasound appointments.

“She called me crying like Mary Magdalene, crying, crying. The sky was falling to pieces,” Javier remembered. She felt alone; he ran to comfort her as quickly as he could. That was how he learned Damián would have a cleft.

Damian as a baby, before cleft surgery
Baby Damián before cleft surgery

The family had never met anyone with a cleft before. All Javier knew was that he thought a cleft meant his baby couldn’t have a future. Thankfully, with help from Oliva’s friends they soon found Centro SUMA, Smile Train’s Cleft Leadership Center in Mexico City. From their first step through its doors, two things were very clear — they were not alone, and their son would receive all the cleft care he would ever need. For free.

Javier hugging Damian
Javier giving Damián a big hug

It was a moment Javier will never forget. “I was relieved, since when I arrived at the center, [they told me] Damián may have been born with a cleft, but don’t worry. We will heal him.”

Javier holding Damian, who is dressed like Spider-Man
Javier and Damián sharing a smile

But even the best medical treatment in the world means little without continuing care and encouragement at home. Javier understood that he would need to step up to be the dad his son needed, and he did so in a super way.

“His father removed all those prejudices” that persist about people with clefts and took “action to also take charge of bringing the child to the consultations, to be attentive in the therapies allowed us to have a very harmonious relationship with them.”
Dr. Karina Cabal hugging Damian at Centro SUMA
Dr. Karina Cabal hugging Damián at Centro SUMA, where she is the CEO

Those are the words of Dr. Karina Cabal, who would certainly know. Newborn Damián was her first patient at SUMA, and they have since gown-up there together. Dr. Cabal is now CEO of Centro SUMA; and as for Damián…

Santino interviewing his little brother for their nascent YouTube show
Santino interviewing his little brother for their future YouTube show

This child who was once at risk of not being able to speak clearly is now an aspiring YouTuber. He’s a natural on camera and steals every scene he’s in, though he also loves sharing the spotlight with his family at home and his second family — his doctors and friends with clefts at Centro SUMA.

Damian getting a hug from a member of the staff at Centro SUMA
Damián getting a hug from one of his doctor friends at Centro SUMA

“I always tell him that he is my Christmas bell because he’s all over the place, he’s super shiny, and not afraid to interact with absolutely everyone,” said Dr. Cabal.

Damian bringing his microphone around Centro SUMA
Damián bringing his microphone around Centro SUMA

But Damián is not the only one in his family spreading cleft awareness. Javier has made it is purpose to educate other parents of children with clefts, especially dads.

Javier smiling

He is deeply involved with SUMA’s parents’ committee, where he shares his experiences to help others feeling as alone as he and Olivia were.

Damian interviews his dad for the camera
Damián interviewing Javier for the camera

“I’m very proud to be a dad,” Javier said. “I’m very grateful to my children, to my wife. It’s something I wouldn’t change and I’m enjoying it to the fullest. I am truly very, very grateful to life.”

This Father’s Day, give a cleft dad the best gift of all: The care his child needs to live and thrive.

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