Jean and Shawn learned that their daughter, Maia was not going to be the perfectly formed baby that they hoped for when an ultrasound taken during the sixth month of her pregnancy showed that the baby’s mouth was broken. Jean blamed herself and was certain that her baby’s facial malformation was the result of not taking vitamins early enough in her pregnancy. Jean cried every day until Maia was born and even when she saw her daughter she still had great difficulty in accepting her. Shawn was a pillar of support for Jean and encouraged her to accept their first child. Jean felt some relief when she learned from her doctor that surgery to repair Maia’s lip was possible as soon as she reached six months of age. A few days later her uncle told her about Operation Smile and that teams of doctors and nurses came regularly to the Philippines to help children like Maia.
In November 2012, an international team with volunteers from eleven different countries arrived in Cavite for a medical mission celebrating Operation Smile’s 30th Anniversary. When Shawn, Jean and Maia arrived at the hospital they realised that there were many other children and even adults like Maia and they were grateful that Maia’s cleft was very small in comparison to those of others they saw.
The family and all their neighbours were overjoyed when they learned that Maia was cleared and scheduled for surgery.
As Jean handed Maia over to her daughter’s anesthesiologist she really wanted to accompany her into the operating room but was told that she could not. Jean and Shawn spent an anxious time until Jean was called in the Recovery Room to hold her daughter as she woke up to her new world with a beautiful smile.