So far for "1in700" I have photographed: one, 8 month old; one, 34 year old; two, 2 year olds; one, 27 year old; and one, 14 year old. Then this radiant little girl showed up at my apartment. Miss Maddie Jo resembles a porcelain doll that should be on display in a museum with her big brown eyes and fire red hair. She was accompanied by her mother (Carrie) and her Aunt; immediately I could feel the intensity that was about to greet me. 
  Maddie saw my cleft and reached up to run her finger across my scar. This ethereal smile started to form on her face. She didn't know which words to use but I watched the excitement build behind her eyes.  

   I sat Carrie down and began to ask questions about what sort of personal challenges she faced when she found out that her unborn daughter was cleft affected. I can't even imagine being in her shoes on this day. Not unlike other cleft mommies, Carrie, walked into her 20 week ultrasound with her husband in hand ready for a routine check up. 
  Since Maddie was child number two for Carrie and her husband they were excited for this appointment! They knew that at this point in the pregnancy they get to find out the sex of their baby! They pile on into the exam room and watch. They hear the heart beat and then share smiles with each other. The familiar excitement of imminent parenthood flooded the Bivens. The nurse took longer than usual, causing some discomfort within Carrie. The nurse sets the remote down and tells them she is going to grab her OBGYN to do any final checks; which was odd. 
  The same doctor that delivered her first daughter walks in and picks the remote up for himself and begins his own investigation. A few agonizing minutes go by and Carrie waits. He sets the remote down, removes his gloves, takes a seat and says: "It looks like there may be a cleft but to be sure we need you to come back in three days and we'll get you answers with the perinatologist, she is the best."
  After some time of questioning, a few tears, and exchanging looks of fear, the Bivens walked out of the hospital on a mission of research. As she explained further Carrie said something I have heard from quite a few mothers now, "When you search online, all you see are the worst case scenarios...and everyone looks so sad." BOOM she said it. One of the reasons why I wanted to create "1in700" in the first place. To show everyone that we deserve and are capable of sharing the same smiles as everyone else. I want to educate the minds of this world on the beauty of the cleft community. Together, we can. 

  Maddie, you've got a bright future and a perfect smile. Shine bright precious little one. It was such a pleasure.

Zachary Rodetis-Urenda