Duck Dynasty Kid to Cleft Lip Kids: ‘It’s Gonna’ Be a Gift Because God Will Help You’
(CNSNews.com) – Duck Dynasty’s 10-year-old Mia Robertson, who has undergone several (and painful) surgeries to correct a cleft lip and palate, said she would like to tell other kids with the condition that “it’s gonna’ be a gift because God will help you,” and that you “need to pray.”
Her father, Jase Robertson, told CNSNews.com that the experience with his daughter has led him and his wife Missy Robertson to visit with other families going through the same experience, and that this has provided an opportunity to “glorify God.”
Mia’s condition is one she shares with Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) – the only congressman with a cleft lip and palate – who invited her to speak about her experience at a Capitol Hill press conference on July 8 to raise awareness about the issue and the Mia Moo Fund, which was started by Jase and Missy Robertson to help with research and treatment of the condition.
Another young girl with a cleft lip, Rosie, and her aunt, also attended the press conference, and the two young ladies were given a Certificate of Distinction by Congressman Franks for their courageous perseverance and strong example to others.
“The Mia Moo Foundation is dedicated to trying to help all children with cleft, and they work with children here in America and across the world,” said Franks. “And I guess the gift that they give these young children is a chance to go from an almost hopeless situation, where they can't communicate with anyone, to where they can put a smile on their face and stand out in front of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. and tell their story.”Jase Robertson, the second oldest son of Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson, said, “I believe that God has blessed kids like Mia, and Mr. Franks, with an extra measure of courage because their childhood is more difficult. But instead of giving up, they persevere [and with] the pain and suffering that they undergo, they develop a lot of character.”
Before the press conference, CNSNews.com asked Mia Robertson whether she prayed before she underwent some of her palate surgeries and she said, “Well, our whole family, like, prayed every night to make sure it went well and stuff.”
Asked whether that prayer helped, and Mia nodded yes.
When asked what she would tell other kids with cleft palate and lip to help them in their situation, she said, “I would just tell them, like, it’s gonna’ be a gift because God will help you. And so, you just need to pray and maybe things will be okay.”
CNSNews.com also asked Mia if she were a good duck hunter. She said she had been hunting only once with her father and, as Jase Robertson recounts in his new book, Good Call: Reflections on Faith, Family, and Fowl, he “gave her a BB gun, and she shot the ducks after I’d already knocked them into the water. I think it took her about 50 BB’s before she finally connected, but she had a blast.”
In the book chapter on Mia and her cleft palate, Jase Robertson says that he and his wife have not “spent a lot of time asking God why Mia was born with her difficulties,” and adds, “We have accepted that it’s another opportunity to glorify Him.”
CNSNews.com asked Robertson in what specific way was that experience an opportunity to glorify God. He explained that in seeing his daughter’s difficult birth and her consequent suffering, it led him to stop feeling sorry for himself and to focus not only on helping Mia but also helping other parents with children who have cleft palates and lips.
“[W]e did all this research and there weren’t many answers, we were more confused than educated,” said Robertson. “That’s when we said, you know what, we’re people of faith. You know, we believe in the Resurrection, we believe in things like this, and then, all of a sudden something comes our way that’s gonna’ be tough and difficult, and we’re just feeling sorry for ourselves. So that’s when we decided, okay, we’re not going to do that anymore.”
“And even though her birth was difficult -- because for a moment they thought she couldn’t breathe on her own -- and when I saw this chaos happen when she was born, I thought to myself, how dare me be thinking, you know, I have to deal with this or what is she going to look like?” he said. “I thought, you know, she could possibly die here. And from that moment on, I’ve had a totally different attitude, and I’ve thought, as long as she’s alive we can get through anything.”He continued, “And so, I guess it was a few years into her [surgery] process that we were called upon to go visit other families who were expecting a child with a cleft lip or palate. And that’s when I realized that statement that you said [an opportunity to glorify God], this is something, you know, we can glorify God through and help other people.”
“Even though I never would have picked this for a ministry because it’s sad, it’s difficult, it never ends,” said Robertson. “I think the public doesn’t understand about – they think, oh, you go and have the surgery, it’s over. Nope. Because then she grows and everything does not grow right inside her mouth. So they have to have another surgery and another surgery. We don’t get too up or down. You just finish one surgery and you get ready for the next one.”
In January of this year, Mia Robertson underwent major bone graft surgery in which bone was taken from her left hip and placed in the cleft of her upper jaw. The bone grew properly and Mia can now eat normally.
The Robertsons started the Mia Moo Fund this year. As it says on its website, the Mia Moo Fund “is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to raising awareness and funds towards research, treatments and causes of cleft lip & palate. We invite everyone countrywide to participate with us as we strive to support one another, lend a helping hand and bring a smile to each and every child.”Missy Robertson says of the group, “When Mia was born [in 2003] we were living paycheck to paycheck and we decided to go into debt in order to receive the best possible care for our child. Our wish is to alleviate that stress for other families through the Mia Moo Fund.”
Rep. Trent Franks was born in 1957 with a severe cleft lip and palate. His parents were told by the doctors that he likely would not live very long. Franks told CNSNews.com, as he has recounted in earlier news stories, that his parents fashioned a special type of eye-dropper to feed him. He underwent his first surgery at two-weeks old and then underwent eight more surgeries as he grew older.
He credits his cleft palate and lip with stirring his interest in children’s health issues, which eventually led him to run for Congress. Franks has been a House representative since 2003.
Duck Dynasty, now in its sixth season on the A&E channel, is the highest rated reality-TV show in cable history. An average 10.5 million viewers watch the program each week.
Craig Millward contributed to this report.