My name is Emily. My older brother was born with a cleft lip and palate. If you asked me if that makes him different than any other teenage boy, I’d tell you no. The little scar under his nose is the only sign someone can see of his cleft. His birth defect hasn’t really kept him from doing anything he likes to do. Like every other teenager, he likes spending time with friends, listening to music, and playing video games.

He’s really smart and is an amazing musician who can play many instruments. He is also an awesome artist — he draws things and makes them look so realistic. I don’t ever see him being treated differently because of his condition. The worst thing about having a brother with a cleft is getting dragged along to his appointments at Children’s. There are so many steps to prepare him for braces. He even had a surgery called a bone graft. Afterwards, most kids get to eat stuff like pasta or ice cream, but since Daniel has so many food allergies, he would only eat mashed potatoes. My parents mashed 10 lbs. of potatoes every day for like 8 weeks. That was crazy.

So even though my family worries a lot when surgery time comes around, it’s not long before Daniel is back to being an annoying older brother. Hmmm … maybe I could ask Dr. Mulliken to sew his mouth shut. I don’t know why I never thought of that before!