Father horrified upon seeing newborn son, but 16 years later, he becomes famous despite labeled “monster”

The parents of a boy were shocked by his appearance at birth, but years later he became an inspiration to many despite enduring bullying and social exclusion. His life changed when a movie had a profound impact on him.

Magda Newman went through a 17-hour long labor to give birth to her first child. Exhausted from the labor, she eagerly awaited the moment to hold her son in her arms. However, doctors delayed showing her the newborn, and instead, she saw expressions of horror on the medical staff’s faces.

They Didn’t Bring Her Son to Her

“What’s going on here?” Magda asked. Magda Newman grew concerned when she didn’t hear her son’s cry after giving birth, and feared that something might have happened to him.

Rather than being brought to her for immediate bonding, her son was taken to a separate room, where more and more medical staff gathered. Magda was left alone in a room filled with deafening silence, and her worry grew as she couldn’t hear her son’s cry.

The worst thoughts began to flood Magda’s mind, and she even feared her baby had passed away because nobody was telling her what was happening.

They Informed Her Husband of Their Son’s Condition

The doctors chose to inform Magda’s husband, Russel Newman, about their newborn’s condition before telling Magda.

However, instead of expressing joy, Russel brought out a textbook, and the doctors showed him a page about Treacher Collins syndrome.

The disorder was a rare congenital craniofacial condition that affected only one in 50,000 people in the United States, and the textbook featured an image of a teenager with the syndrome.

Russel and Magda Couldn’t Believe Their Reality

Magda’s son was born with Treacher Collins syndrome, a rare craniofacial disorder that affects one in 50,000 people in the United States.

The condition was a surprise to the parents as it didn’t show up on any of the prenatal scans. The baby also wasn’t breathing initially, but the doctors managed to save him.

When Magda finally saw her son, she was shocked to see that he had no eyelids, cheekbones, ears, and an underdeveloped jaw.

They Needed Time to Accept Their Son’s Condition

After the birth of their son Nathaniel, Magda and Russel Newman struggled to come to terms with his condition. It took them a year to be able to look at him without flinching.

The couple contacted the Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery (IRPS) in search of help for their son’s Treacher Collins syndrome. They received a call from Shelley Cohen, a speech and language pathologist who worked at the hospital.

Shelley Cohen from the Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery (IRPS) called the Newman family to offer help after they left a message. When Russel answered the phone, he was surprised by Shelley’s greeting, “Congratulations! Hey, Mr. Newman, you had a baby boy, I heard. That’s wonderful!”

Gaining a Fresh Perspective from Another Person

Shelley’s congratulatory message was a welcome change from Russel’s initial reaction of shock and disbelief. However, he was still hesitant and thought Shirley might be crazy for saying that his son would lead a normal life. Nevertheless, her words gave him hope for Nathaniel’s future.

Nathaniel was eventually transferred to NYU Langone hospital where he stayed for a month. During this time, the nurses noticed how distraught Magda and Russel were.

Finding Hope

Magda and Russel, feeling devastated and hopeless about their son’s condition, found encouragement while watching the Grammys at the hospital.

Christina Aguilera was performing her hit song “Beautiful,” which they took as a personal anthem. The lyrics resonated with them, and they began to shift their perspective.

Instead of worrying about Nathaniel’s appearance, they began to focus on his personality and believed he would be beautiful inside and out.

Following the uplifting performance by Christina Aguilera, Russel and Magda rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to finally hold their newborn son. According to Magda, it was an unforgettable moment.

“I almost cried every day. Every single time I looked at him, I could not believe it’s my child. I couldn’t believe it.”

Coping with the Challenges

Nathaniel faced additional challenges with breathing and eating, but his cognitive development was unaffected by his condition. Over the course of his first year, Nathaniel underwent more than ten surgeries to improve his quality of life. However, his parents declined cosmetic surgery and instead focused on functional improvements.

Living in a big city like New York, Magda and Russel also had to deal with hurtful comments from others. Nathaniel received no compliments or congratulations, and even his own father initially struggled with his appearance, admitting that he “did not look like a person.”

Conceiving a Second Child

When Nathaniel was a toddler, Magda and Russel wanted to expand their family, but the fear of having another child with Treacher Collins made it difficult for them to proceed with their plans.

The couple conducted multiple tests and sent their DNA samples to John Hopkins to ensure their second child would not be born with Treacher Collins like Nathaniel. With a 99% chance of success, they were relieved to welcome their second son, Jacob, without any complications.

Nathaniel and Jacob had a close bond until Nathaniel began to become aware of his facial differences. He experienced uncomfortable stares and even screams from children at birthday parties due to their fear of his appearance.

He Was Called a Monster

At one point, Nathaniel was called a “monster,” and it was then that he first became aware that his face was different from other kids his age. As he grew up, he faced harsh judgment from others.

However, after undergoing 54 surgeries by the age of 11, Nathaniel became more comfortable with his appearance and was able to explain his condition more effectively.

As a teenager, Nathaniel had to change schools, and he wanted to make sure his new classmates wouldn’t be shocked by his appearance.

He wrote letters to them in advance, incorporating the book “Wonder,” which is about a girl with a facial deformity and the challenges she faces in a world that struggles to accept her looks.

How a Film Changed His Life

Nathaniel attributes the positive changes in his life to the film adaptation of “Wonder,” his own bravery, and his mother’s unwavering support.

His mother shared their story in a book titled “Normal: One Kid’s Extraordinary Journey,” while Nathaniel wrote it from his own perspective.

Nathaniel has come to accept his life with open arms, and “Wonder” has played a significant role in changing how people perceive him. People have become more empathetic and kind towards him, and he is now treated like any other student in school.

Accepting Nathaniel’s Reality

Nathaniel’s younger brother, Jacob, noticed the difference the movie “Wonder” made in how people treated Nathaniel. Jacob used to act as a protector for Nathaniel, but after the film, people were more accepting and kinder to Nathaniel.

Nathaniel has learned to accept his condition and is not envious of his brother’s “normal” appearance. His mother, Magda, also came to the realization that taking care of Nathaniel was her purpose, as God chose her to care for him.

Despite battling cancer twice, she devoted herself to caring for both of her sons while her husband, Russel, worked for an insurance company.

The Newman family supported each other through all their medical challenges. Today, Nathaniel proudly declares that he is not “normal,” but then again, neither is anyone else. “If we were all normal, we’d all have to be the same,” he concluded.

Throughout Nathaniel’s journey, his parents have been his unwavering support system, and they continue to be proud of him as he strives for a fulfilling life. With the increased acceptance and support for his condition in recent times, Nathaniel’s pursuit of a “normal” life has become less challenging.