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  • Writer's picture Kathy Cassel

The Story of Cleft Bear

Jasmine was born with a cleft palate and lip (along with many other anomalies). She was born in Valdosta, flown by helicopter to Shands in Gainesville, and 10 days later returned to the Valdosta hospital. Later I got a call. It was love at first sight. I had the joy of taking her home from the hospital at 21 days old.

I learned about the Cleft Foundation, and I wrote to them and explained that I had a foster child who had a cleft lip and palate. I asked them if they could send me a cleft palate bear for her, and they did.

I know I have a photo of her with him at the time, but I am going to have to sort through countless film photos for that picture!

But here is one of her about that time.

She'd already had the lip repair, but still had at least six surgeries ahead of her.

In 2004, when she was almost 3 1/2, we were able to adopt her. Tyler is holding Jessica's missionary card because after the long wait to adopt her, it happened while Jessica was in New Mexico on a mission trip!

Now my beautiful baby is going into her senior year.

And cleft bear is more special to her now than even before.

She has completed all of her surgeries, but cleft bear is still her faithful side kick. Whatever she chooses to do after high school, I'm sure he will still be a part of it.

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