Man was abandoned at birth by parents because they didn't like his face
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A man who was abandoned at birth by his parents because they didn't like his face has learned how to love himself and now uses his experiences to help others.
Jono Lancaster was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome, a rare condition that affects people's faces.
In Jono's case, he has an underdeveloped jaw, no cheekbones and what he describes as 'little Bart Simpson ears'.
Learning to embrace his unique appearance has been a long journey, one that started from the moment he was born.
In a new interview with LADbible, Jono explained that his parents abandoned him because of the way he looked, something he didn't find out until he was 24.
The West Yorkshire lad, now 38, was handed a hospital document that read: "Both parents were horrified by the child's appearance. Both parents felt no maternal bond.
"Both parents left the hospital 36 hours later, leaving the child behind."
Even prior to receiving the document, Jono said that he began to form a story in his head of how they had left him due to the way he looked.
"When I was in college, obviously I didn’t have those words," he explained.
"I was forming the pieces, I was creating the answers, and at that point they left me because I looked different.
"They left me because I looked like this and it destroyed me."
The author said growing up was tough as a result, having experienced bullying during his school years.
Although he'd suffered taunting from people on the street before, Jono said he had a 'safe, close knit environment' - but this all changed when he reached high school.
"All of a sudden there's all these kids that hadn't seen me before. I was exposed to the older kids," he said.
"And then all of a sudden the pointing, the name calling, kids pulling their eyes down towards me, just laughing at me... that's when my differences weren't cool anymore, I wasn't able to celebrate them."
As he got older and went through a relationship and breakup, Jonathan suffered what he described as his 'darkest period'.
But when he turned 20, he went through a four year period of 'growth and healing' which led to him becoming the confident and outgoing person he is today.
One person who has always backed Jono is his mum, Jean, who adopted him at the age of five.
During this period, he explained: "My mum, she'd always been there – but now I was open to her to talk.
"My friendships were there, I was talking to them. I was in a healthy relationship, I had a job, I was in a very good place."
Being in such a secure place in his life, Jono decided to reach out to his birth parents to let them know he was okay, but the contact was rejected.
Looking back, he said it was a 'mixture of emotions', although at this point he'd made peace with what had happened.
"Now I've stripped it all back and the truth is the only thing I know about my birth parents is they gave me life.
"They brought me into this world and it's down to me to live this life and make the most of this life.
"And it's a beautiful life, now anyway, so for that I'm forever blessed."
Elsewhere in the interview, Jono recalled the first time he realised he was comfortable with his appearance.
While at the gym, stood in front of a full length mirror, he explained: "I look at my face, and instead of wanting to push my eyes up, I smiled.
"For the first time in I can't remember how many years, I absolutely loved what I saw."
Today, Jono shares his story to inspire others, and has dedicated his life to helping people embrace and love themselves.
He even started his own successful charity named the Love Me Love My Face Foundation, which raises awareness and supports individuals and families with Treacher Collins Syndrome and craniofacial conditions.