It wasn’t selfishness, as most people are eager to assume about parents who make such brave decisions. They did not keep him because they didn’t want to bear the guilt of “giving him up without trying”. They held onto their boy out of hope, overwhelming love, and faith so powerful it came through in the end.
When Sara and Chris Heller were told they might have to consider “other options” for their unborn son, who was to be named Brody, the couple were already certain what their choice was going to be.  An ultrasound at six months revealed that the baby had a bilateral cleft lip and palate, a serious deformity that causes openings or splits in the roof of the mouth and lip. This is a common birth defect that’s associated with several health problems and difficulties as a child grows. Eating, drinking, smiling, talking and laughing would be very difficult activities. However, these clefts are usually correctible, although the child would require very intensive care and attention to pull through the procedures. 
After listening to the doctor’s explanation of the diagnosis, the Nebraska-based couple was consolidated in their decision; it wasn’t going to be easy, but aborting their child would never be an option. They would have, love, and nurture him for as long as he lived.
On October 7, 2016, the precious little pumpkin came into the world, weighing all of 6 lbs 8oz with a head full of hair.
A smile so pure it would melt your heart
The cleft lip condition affects one in 700 babies and is the fourth most common birth defect in the United States.  As a child gets older, one or more surgeries may be required to correct the abnormality. On January 3, 2017, three months after Brody was born, he was scheduled to have his first corrective surgery. The operation went successfully and he made a remarkable recovery in the following months. He’s had a few more procedures over the years, and now, at the age of four, despite the many obstacles he’s faced, his smile continues to melt hearts every day.
Brody has grown into a charming little young man and you can’t help but love his personality.
When her baby was born, Brody’s mom took to Instagram and Facebook to begin raising awareness of the cleft lip condition by updating her space with Brody’s remarkable progress. Her Instagram page is filled with hundreds of photos of a relentlessly happy child with the occasional scowl – growing, thriving and surviving against all odds. She also hopes to portray the intricacies of caring for a special needs child, to encourage other parents. As long as your heart is brimming with love for this vulnerable little human, there’s no hurdle you cannot jump.
When Brody hit his ten-month mark, his mother gave an insightful update into his overall health on Instagram: “This guy ??. Brody had his initial intake appointment with CRCC today. We had started Brody at a daycare center a few weeks ago but with the uncertainties of Brody’s development and uncoordinated eating we’ve decided to take him to a different center with medical professionals on staff, therapies (PT, OT, Speech, and Feeding) available throughout the week, and weekly well checks. ** His lab work has always came back normal, and he’s had zero signs of seizure activity! Developmentally, he’s on his own path. We are excited to get some extra help from some great therapists!**”
Every day is a blessing
In 2019, the Hellers were hit with some unfortunate news that left them uncertain about Brody’s future. The young boy was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Intellectual Disability (ID), Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), and rare blood disorder. In his mother’s words, “We had amazing highs and some not so fun lows. Each day being different from the next but each day even more special than the last.” However, they were positive that if they’d come this far, they could go a lifetime with nothing but love and support for their son.
While they may occasionally be hounded with some uncomfortable questions about their son’s condition, the couple notes that people are mostly positive and kind to the little Brody. On two occasions, his mother has received notes with $1000 checks addressed to “the beautiful baby”. The money was put into his health care and surgeries.
Being born with a disability or deformity often comes with a lot of pain and discomfort, and no parent would want their child to go through all that suffering in life. However, life takes courses beyond our control and when you find yourself with a vulnerable baby in need of special care and extra attention, all you can really do is to just love them. It won’t always be an easy adjustment considering the mental, physical, and financial responsibilities involved. However, love is the ultimate motivation.
Also, a community is remarkably helpful. You don’t have to do it alone if there’s a strong tribe of people willing to back you up and help in caring for your child. Just take it one day at a time.¨
- “Doctors Asked Them To Abort Their “Deformed” Baby, 2 Years Later They’re Glad They Didn’t Listen.” Shared. Blair. Retrieved October 26, 2020.
- “Treatment – cleft lip and palate.” NHS.UK. Retrieved October 26, 2020.
- “Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate.” Web MD. Retrieved October 26, 2020.
- “Cleft lip and cleft palate.” Mayo Clinic. Retrieved October 26, 2020.