Jono’s parents decided they couldn’t keep their son when they saw his condition. But a woman who was pregnant as soon as she saw it did not hesitate to take it. Today he is 36 years old and wants to make the world a better place.
When Jono Lancaster was born, he was diagnosed with Treacher Collins Syndrome, a disease that affects the facial structure and hearing abilities, which was the reason they weren’t able to love him. Having the syndrome meant plenty of hospital visits and probably surgeries, and they weren’t willing to go through such an experience.
Jono was abandoned by his parents just a few days after birth.
In the following days, social services started looking for a family for him. Fortunately, an angel named Jean came into his life. When she saw him for the first time, she thought “How could you not love a child?” she said after hearing his story. “When can I take him home?” was the next question she asked.
Jono shared the story at the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) Breakthrough Summit back in 2015 and gained the attention of many people.
“I was born with a genetic condition that affects my facial features. I have no cheekbones, and so my eyes dip down,” he said. “I love my little ears, they don’t get cold at night. But I do need hearing aids. I’m one of the lucky ones. More severely affected individuals need help with feeding and breathing. I met some kids who’ve had more than 70 surgeries to correct problems that would make their lives easier.”
As for Jean, the woman who raised him, he says “Jean adopted me on May 18, 1990 – so I get two birthdays!” he said. “I used to tell other kids that my mom went to the hospital and she looked at all the babies and she chose me, whereas their parents had been stuck with them.”
In his teenage years, he was bullied a lot by his peers because of the way he looked.
“When I became a teenager, I began to think, why me? That snowballed into thinking about my birth parents. Parents are supposed to love you no matter what, even if you rob a bank. How would I ever have a family? Who will want me?” he said. “I started to hate my face. I became aggravated at not being able to change the way I looked. I avoided looking at my reflection, even in windows walking down the street. I was ashamed of the way I looked.”
But today he gained a lot of confidence. He works as a motivational speaker and spends time with children who are like him.
“So what’s changed?” he said. “People are still the same. My parents still want nothing to do with me. What’s changed is my attitude, and that’s so powerful. Instead of allowing negative energy to bring me down, I believe in myself. I wouldn’t change any of it. My attitude was more disabling than anything. With the right attitude, you can achieve anything.”
We are very happy that he is living like everyone else and has learned to love himself too.