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  • Meet Stephen!

    The day finally arrived–Jen’s 20-week appointment, the day she would get to “meet” her third child via ultrasound. Hand in hand, Jen and her husband walked together into the crowded, cold waiting room. After waiting anxiously, it was finally their turn.

    The sweet ultrasound technician walked them to their room, sharing in their excitement. The cold jelly splatted across her round belly. The ultrasound tech’s chatty, friendly talk became subdued. Her wand slowed. Jen’s heart accelerated. Palms sweaty. Then the tech said, “I will be right back.”

    It felt like hours. Jen knew. Her husband remained calm and optimistic, but Jen’s excitement had turned to worry. Her suspicions were confirmed.

    She was no stranger to cleft lip and palate, with two family members impacted by the condition. Still, this couldn’t prepare her for the road ahead.

    Shock. Uncertainty. Fear. Grief.

    What would the future hold for her baby boy?

    The day Stephen was born…..He was perfect and it was love at first sight as they locked eyes in the flurry of chaos in the delivery room. Stephen was whisked away for the countless tests and evaluations. The hospital staff was prepared and ready for Stephen’s birth and provided great care. Upon discharge, they realized they would be walking this cleft journey alone.

    You can change this for other families.

    Their California support system was limited, so they had to fend for themselves. They did what resilient, determined parents do–they found a way to ensure that their son received every treatment he needed to fully repair his cleft lip and palate. There wasn’t an organization like Smile Oregon to offer the extra resources, support, and financial assistance they desperately needed. Instead, they were left to navigate the long road on their own.

    Caring for a newborn with complex health needs is emotionally draining. Sadly, it’s also expensive. Life was filled with weekly appointments across the medical disciplines: pediatrics, craniofacial, dental, nutrition, lactation, surgery. When they weren’t at appointments, time was spent unraveling insurance, EOBs, and setting up payment plans. The multiple appointments, procedures, and time away from work started to take a toll on the family finances. Their insurance denied many of Stephen’s treatments, leaving large copays and hefty balances. With no financial assistance, they turned to second jobs to keep up with the financial burden. There was a long journey still ahead.

    Jen and her husband couldn’t be more proud of their son!


    Your gift of $50 provides education and support to one family so they won’t walk this road alone.

    More than anything, Jen wants to help other families affected by craniofacial conditions spend more time with their sweet children and less time worrying about how to pay for their treatments. Looking back to those early, chaotic years, she will never regret the hard work, but she knows that generous people like you can make the path easier for families just starting the journey.

    The gift of a smile is priceless! Jen knows that families in Oregon and SW Washington don’t walk this road alone. This is made possible because of caring people like you!

    Click below to make a tax-deductible donation!

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