In today’s society, we like to believe that we do not judge people based on their appearance, but unfortunately, that is not always the case. The truth is, we are still judged on our outside looks, and the first impression that we make is often based on our appearance. This can be particularly challenging for individuals who have physical differences that set them apart from others.
Jono Lancaster is one such individual who had a tough time growing up because of his unique physical features. Jono was born in 1985 in England with Treacher Collins syndrome, a rare genetic disorder characterized by distinctive abnormalities of the head and face. The doctors told Jono’s parents that he would probably never walk or talk, and they abandoned him after birth.
Fortunately for Jono, a wonderful woman named Jean Lancaster took him under her wing and raised him. Jean felt an instant bond with Jono when she picked him up and turned to the nurse and asked her straight: “When can I take him home?” From day one, Jono was raised like any family member: with care, love, and devotion from his mom.
Although Jono was raised well at home, he had a tough time growing up with people who judged him based on his appearance. He became more self-aware of himself and how he looked when he went to school. He felt like he was the only one in the world who was like him, and he often wondered why he had to end up looking like this. Treacher Collins syndrome doesn’t affect a child’s intelligence in any way, but his classmates only cared how he looked. They used to run away from him, saying they didn’t want to catch his “disease.”
Jono was a fighter since day one, and he wasn’t going to let people turn him down just because he looked different. His mom, Jean, taught him better than that. Jean tried to reunite him with his biological parents, but after they returned her letters for five years, she took the next step – and adopted Jono on May 18, 1990. Jono made it clear that he will never forget his foster mom in an emotional Facebook post from 2015.
Jono’s physical differences made him feel alone and isolated as a teenager. He became rebellious to draw attention and deter people from the real problem: his physical features. He drank a lot and used to bribe people with sweets so they would like him. But with love and care from his foster mom, Jono decided to take his life in another turn. He became a force for good and used his uniqueness to help others.
As a 37-year-old adult, Jono devotes his life to helping others with TCS. He’s also been working as a team leader for adults with autism. He is now a beacon of hope and support, informing parents how to set up a bright future for their kids fighting the same.
Jono’s attitude towards his physical differences has changed over the years. He says that his parents still want nothing to do with him, but what’s changed is his attitude, and that’s what’s so powerful. With the right attitude, you can achieve anything.
In 2015, Jono met the love of his wife while working as a fitness instructor, Laura Richardson. They fell in love, and unlike most people, Laura embraced all that he was. She saw his good, kind, and generous soul and the unique person that he is. Until Jono met Laura, he always thought he’d turn to adoption to start his own family.
“I’ve always dreamed of being a daddy. I crave father and son moments – my adoptive mum was absolutely amazing, but I never had a father figure in my life, and that’s something I really, really want.