God's Beauty: Deformed Baby Unites a Community

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Raja and Jessica Paulraj see beauty in their son Adam that many others can't.

The baby boy's story began September 18, 2011, at a Christian missionary hospital in India. Adam came into the world with no eyelids, no nose, no hands, legs fused together, and other deformities. But his brain, heart and lungs were just fine.

His birth parents decided it was best to either abandon or kill him. Raja and Jessica worked at the hospital.

"The uncle came and said, 'We don't want to take the baby home,' Raja recalled. "And then the mother-in-law was like, 'We don't want to take the baby, and it's a kind of shame for us to take him back.'"

"There is a sense that the relatives don't want to take him home because I got a call from the village where the baby belongs to, and they're telling that if they bring the baby back home, 'We may poison him,'" he continued.

Meanwhile, the Paulrajs fell in love with Adam, and soon after decided to adopt the boy.

"When Adam came along it was so unexpected for me, but there was this sense from the very beginning that the Lord was just like, 'This is the child I have called for you to care for,'" Jessica told CBN News.

The Search for Help

Adam was diagnosed with the rare genetic disorder Bartsocas-Papas Syndrome.

The couple knew their new baby boy would need special medical attention. Jessica emailed her friend Brooke Gleason in search of someone who could help.

"I sent that email on to Dr. [John] Van Aalst, who's a cranial-facial surgeon," Gleason said. "He said that he wanted to provide total care for Adam and thought that we would be able to bring him here to UNC to do that."

Right away a team of doctors at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill mobilized to develop a plan for baby Adam's care.

He needed several surgeries, Some immediately, and others down the road. So doctors donated their time and went to work.

"If Adam had stayed in the northeast of India he would not be alive today. There's no question about that," Dr. Van Aalst said.

United Supported

But baby Adam's hospital bills were still very high, even with the medical team's volunteer efforts. When people heard this, they came to his rescue.

David Anderson, president of the Medical Foundation of North Carolina, organized a fundraiser that collected an astounding $100,000 in its first week.

"We quickly established an online giving page and normally that would take several days," Anderson recalled.

"We were told that really it was urgent, that really it had to happen right away because the surgery was so urgent. And so we got it up in a matter of hours," he said.

Adam's first surgeries targeted immediate needs, like being able to close his eyes and mouth for the very first time.

"It was probably the most challenging cleft lip I've ever done. At some point he's going to need nasal reconstruction and that's going to be a huge challenge," Van Aalst explained.

"So one aspect of caring for him has been a lot of prayer. I've prayed, my family has prayed. Jessica and Raja have prayed," he continued.

God's Perfection

Adam will eventually have the use of prosthetic hands and legs.

"Is he going to be perfect? Yes, he's already perfect. Is he going to be normal by the world's standards? Never," Van Aalst said.

Normal or not, baby Adam has already brought a community together.

"Nurses, cleaning people, doctors, other families, in fact a family that came to me today for a very different reason, I'm taking care of their daughter, they said, 'How is Adam doing?'" Van Aalst said.

Meanwhile, the Paulrajs will continue to delight in the everyday joys of parenthood.

*Originally aired on March 13, 2012.

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Lorie  Johnson

Lorie Johnson

CBN News Medical Reporter

Lorie Johnson reports on the latest information about health and wellness. Since medicine is constantly changing, she makes sure CBN News viewers are up-to-date on what they need to know in order to live a healthy life.  Follow Lorie on Twitter @LorieCBN and "like" her at Facebook.com/LorieJohnsonCBN.