Saturday, July 07, 2012

The story of an awesome little girl

Eric and Janet Beatty knew before their daughter was born that she was going to be different. Prenatal screening showed facial deformities. Baby Clara had Treacher Collins syndrome, caused by a genetic fault.

It was unusual for Treacher Collins babies to be born in Belgium, where the Beattys lived, because parents almost always decided to abort.

For the Beattys, there was no question of abortion - despite the looks of disapproval from medical staff both before and after the birth. "It was kind of strange sometimes with the doctors," said Eric, "some of whom I think really, really questioned why we had this baby."

The Beattys moved to the United States where Clara could get the nursing care she needed. Cosmetic surgery, if she had it, would need to be repeated as she grew, so Clara - she's nine now - is waiting until her teens.

When people stare, she just smiles and says "Hi." But "I want to try to make myself as much like the other kids," she says, "so I can stop having everyone asking me questions, because it gets so annoying."

When Clara finishes her homework, she helps classmates with theirs. She volunteers as a mentor for an acting troupe for children with special needs. When she grows up, she wants to be a doctor. "It's fun," she says, "to help someone and give them a better chance at life."

Some classmates at school couldn't understand why a reporter would want to write a story about her (you can read the story here).

"Why?" said one.

"Because Clara is awesome," said another.