Family adopt dog with cleft lip after birth of daughter with cleft lip

BROWNSBURG — July is National Cleft and Craniofacial Fissures Awareness and Prevention Month. This is a month dedicated to raising awareness and improving understanding of orofacial clefts, cleft lip and palate, and other conditions of the head and face.

RELATED: Facts About Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate

For families in the split community, it’s a time when their stories are more widely shared, giving insight into the lives they live 24/7, 365 days a year.

April and Jack Allgood are the parents of a child, Emmalyn, who was born with a cleft lip and palate.

“We found out during our 20-week ultrasound that Emmalyn was going to be blessed with a unilateral cleft lip,” April said. “That’s when we started planning with the Riley Care team.”

Jennifer Suies Photography

April & Jack with Emmalyn shortly after she was born

RELATED: Cleft and Craniofacial Abnormalities Program at Riley Children’s Health

Emmalyn at 2.5 months

April and Jack Allgood

Emmalyn Allgood, at 2.5 months, prepares to receive her eternal smile

“When she was two and a half years old, almost three months old, on Halloween actually, she was given a smile here forever. Then she had her first surgery. the palate. All of these surgeries were very, very difficult,” April said.

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April and Jack Allgood

Emmalyn on the day of surgery to repair her palate

The Allgoods spent many days and nights making sure their daughter, who was not even a year old, would avoid touching her face as she healed from surgery. They also spent time learning which foods and utensils would work best for Emmalyn, as they all adapted to her everlasting smile. Now almost 5 years old, Emmalyn will undergo at least two more surgeries. His family will continue to love and support here through the challenges ahead.

“In this world, it’s a crazy place. We just learned that it’s important for her to wake up every day and realize that when she wakes up and looks in the mirror, she’s just as beautiful. than everyone else,” April said.

Emmalyn holding a picture of herself as a newborn

Jennifer Suies Photography

Emmalyn holding a photo of herself taken before cleft lip and palate surgery

Thanks to a unique connection, Emmalyn can now see herself reflected through their pet, Maverick.

“She often looks at him and says ‘you’re special, just like me. God made you special because you have a cleft lip.’ It’s just awesome because it’s helped her embrace her unique sweet difference in this world,” April said.

“He’s been a blessing, just to be honest. We didn’t plan on having a dog when we did, but the story he came to see us in is too good to be true. Truly a gift from God,” Jack said.

Maverick’s journey to the Allgoods began with Celeste Edwards, a dog breeder.

“I determined the moment I saw him that what I wanted from him was a cleft-touched family,” Edwards said.

Edwards spent weeks caring for Maverick, taking her wherever she went due to the special attention the pup needed. Although she tried, Edwards struggled to find a family for Maverick. She decided to go with people who had already adopted her, but at the last minute, this family canceled.

Celeste and Maverick

Celeste Edwards with Maverick

Celeste Edwards poses with Maverick. She spent weeks breastfeeding and caring for him because of his cleft lip

“I was so relieved. I knew this was my chance to find her the perfect home,” Edwards said.

Not knowing where to turn, Edwards called the Riley Children’s Health care team. They contacted the association Legendary smiles.

“Never in a million years would I expect a blessing this size,” said Monica Bush, the association’s founder.

Bush’s son, Henry, was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate. At 10, he has had 12 surgeries and may need more in the future.

Henry Buisson

Monica Bush

Henry Bush at birth and on his last day of 3rd grade.

Bush wants Legendary Smiles to be a beacon and guide for families like his.

“When parents actually get that diagnosis at 19 or 20 weeks, put this (leaflet) in their hands because it’s one more person connecting without having to hop on Google,” Bush said. “That was my story. We didn’t know anyone with a cleft. We didn’t know what a cleft was and I think the general public doesn’t understand how involved it is at first.”

Legendary Smiles connects families to a network of people who understand their ups and downs, their struggles and their victories. The nonprofit connected the Allgoods to Maverick. Bush shared a social media post. April saw it and knew her family had to have the dog.

“After talking with her, I knew. I knew that was where he was supposed to go,” Edwards said of his conversation with April.

“My heart is so full. I can’t even. It just makes me cry to think about it because it’s going to affect her forever. She’s going to remember this for the rest of her life,” Bush said.

The Allgoods work on training Maverick, teaching him to sit, shake, and all the things you teach a dog to be a well-trained companion. In turn, he teaches them, and anyone who hears this story, a valuable lesson that Jack sums up best.

“I really think someone is different. That’s the beauty of it all,” he said.

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April and Jack Allgood

Christine E. Phillips