44 years ago, a mother of four healthy children gave birth to her fifth child, a baby boy with severe deformities.
Robert Hoge of Australia was born with deformed legs and a massive tumor between his eyes.
Robert’s parents were so stunned by his face that his mother refused to see him for a whole week after he was born. She didn’t want to take him home. In fact, she was so horrified that at one point she said she wished he would die.
Eventually, Robert’s mother had a change of heart. She grew to accept her son’s appearance. After a pivotal family meeting, it was decided that Robert would come home. His four siblings all agreed they wanted Robert to be a part of their family.
On one hand, it may seem easy to villainize Robert’s mother. But on the other, incredibly, he has come to understand and defend her initial concerns — and that is all that matters.
Robert says she was overwrought about raising a child with special needs, and terrified at the thought of Robert and her family being bullied and ridiculed because of his appearance.
In September 2016, Robert Hoge explained to NPR how and why he knew so much about his mother’s initial feelings about him — and why he had come to accept and learn from them.
“The reason I know all of that was because one of the doctors at the time encouraged my mother to keep a diary. And she kept this lovely blue diary with beautiful handwriting in it and that was never hidden away from me. It would sit on the couch beside her, or it would be on her bedside table. … And every now and then I’d ask mum to read me a bit from her book. And so she was really open and honest in that book about her feelings about me, and she was really open and honest with me from a very young age about her feelings.
And I think I had a few times where I was a bit concerned and a bit worried and couldn’t quite understand, but I think then it just clicked one day that it was like a movie that has some sad parts in the middle but has a happy ending. I was finding all of that out after knowing that my parents had decided to bring me home.”
In 2013, Robert put his writing skills to use by penning his memoir entitled Ugly.
One reviewer on Amazon says, “This is a touching account of an innocent boy growing up thinking he was normal but slowly and sadly discovering that he wasn’t, in a society obsessed with good looks. And how he blossomed by not only accepting but celebrating who he is in the midst of what our society shuns and look away from.”