After Kyle’s Mother Abandoned Him, the Rest of His Family Stepped Up
Kyle’s unstoppable relatives always had his back
Kyle’s mother was embarrassed the first time she saw him. She had no idea how to care for him and didn’t seem interested in learning. She acted as if he wasn’t even there. The midwives swaddled Kyle and tried to get his mother to hold him, but she ignored them. The newborn cried for milk while his mother covered her ears.
When his father arrived, nothing could have prepared him for the scene in front of him. Kyle’s cleft, a condition his father had never seen before, was one thing, but seeing his baby’s mother disregard their newborn entirely was heart-wrenching. He could not ignore his baby. He stepped around her to bottle-feed their son.
Only a day after taking Kyle home from the hospital, his mother wordlessly dropped him off with his cousin and left, abandoning her baby and his father.
But the rest of the family refused to let Kyle and his father be abandoned twice. They immediately jumped to help. “When I first saw him, I felt so sorry, but it did not matter to me,” said Proting, his grandfather. “I pledged to take care of him as I did my other grandchildren.”
Despite their dedication, the family struggled to care for Kyle properly. He constantly cried for food but choked on his milk. It was exhausting trying to find safe ways for him to eat. Finally, his grandma started spoon-feeding him. That worked. The whole family learned to adapt to Kyle’s cleft.
As Kyle got older, he glowed with personality. He was always kind to everyone and looking to make friends. But neighborhood children still bullied him. It hurt, and it hurt his family just as bad. They kept him out of school for fear that he would be bullied there, too.
Soon another challenge arose: finding a hospital to perform Kyle’s much-needed cleft surgery. The family went to a clinic in Manila to get treatment, but they never heard back. As years passed by with no help, everyone started losing hope. They felt their window of opportunity rapidly shutting.
Then, they received some pivotal guidance in an unexpected place: a barber shop.
Kyle’s uncle was cutting a regular’s hair, making casual small talk. When he brought up Kyle and his cleft, the customer asked, “Have you heard of Smile Train? Bring Kyle to the hospital in Olongapo. They will perform his surgery for free.”
The family thought it sounded too good to be true, but they had no other options. The family made the long journey to Smile Train partner James L. Gordon Memorial Hospital to discover if this miracle was truly possible. There, staff confirmed that yes, they would treat Kyle. And it would be entirely free thanks to Smile Train. Tears of happiness flowed from every eye in the room. After six years, Kyle would finally get his surgery!
If Kyle was ever nervous about his surgery, he didn’t show it. “He was very brave,” said his grandfather with pride. “The doctor was impressed.” The family was impressed, too — the surgery was flawless. With his cleft healed, Kyle’s new smile shines just as brightly as he does.
Now Kyle is full of self-confidence. He can’t stop making new friends, and worries about bullies are a thing of the past. His family could not be prouder of the intelligent, extroverted boy their child is growing into.
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