I was born with a birth defect that made one of my legs much shorter than the other. When people hear about this, they assume that I’m unable to live a happy, normal life. The truth is on the contrary. I’ve come to find that with a positive attitude and a determined heart, this defect couldn’t affect or change my life in any way.
I grew up at my foster parents’ home and didn’t have much memory of my birth parents. I have two biological brothers. When I was nine, my foster parents adopted me and my older brother who was 13 at the time. They were planning to take my eldest brother too, but he was about to turn eighteen, so he decided not to come with us. I’ve never tried to find my birth parents. I have a strong relationship with my adopted parents and my brothers, and I feel the love I’ve received from them is enough to fill any void in my life.
In addition to me and my brother, my adopted parents raised 28 other children. By the time we were adopted, they had all been moved out with their own lives and families. I still developed a bond with a few of them. One of my adopted sisters, who is 83, lives with me now, and I take care of her in her old age.
Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio in the 1970s, I had an average childhood despite being adopted. I was always a cheerful little girl. I would spend all day outside playing with friends. I never let my leg problem stop me from enjoying my life. I knew I was a little different from the other kids, but it didn’t feel that way. I was treated like any other little girl, and that helped my confidence.
On occasions, negative thoughts would come into my head. I would wonder why I was born this way and why I was given up by my parents. I would usually give myself a reality check when these thoughts sneaked in. Yes, it is unfortunate that one of my legs is shorter than the other, but it could be a lot worse. I’d tell myself.
The only time I ever truly worried about it causing problems for me was when I was 12. I began to wonder if my condition would create any health complications. I felt normal, but would I be able to do all the things a normal person could do? Would I be able to have children? My parents were kind when I raised these questions to them. They assured me that my birth defect wouldn’t negatively affect my body. I would be able to do anything a normal person could. After they had told me that, I never had further doubts any more. I decided I would not let it present any obstacles on my way to leading a positive healthy life.
I went to Scarlet Oaks for high school where I entered a program to learn about childcare. Seeing my foster parents be so generous and raise 30 kids in the duration of their lives always blew me away. I had a lot of respect for them, and that was why I chose to study childcare. I wanted to help kids as they grew up. I wanted to impact lives as much as I could.
After high school, I worked a bakery job for a few years before getting into the childcare field. I have always loved working with kids. It has been over 20 years since I started my profession in childcare, and I love it. I develop relationships with the kids I care for like they were my own children. Their health and happiness mean a lot to me.
Along the way, I had three boys of my own. Having a job where I have to take care of children all day helped prepare me to adequately raise my own. I was dating the father of my three kids for 15 years before we decided to part our ways. We ended on good terms. Though we broke up, he was still very much involved in our lives. I was able to bring my children to work with me when I was unable to get someone to watch them, which benefited me a lot when we broke up. My job helped make raising them a lot easier.
Though I didn’t view myself as different, I can’t deny that there are a few setbacks that came with my birth defect. With my two legs of different lengths, I walk slightly slower than other people. I’m also unable to drive without modifications being made to the car. I haven’t learned how to drive yet, so my sons and my friends need to drive me everywhere. This is inconvenient, and I’m working to drive on my own, so I don’t have to rely on anyone. I believe where there is a will, there is a way.
I always teach my kids to work hard for what they want. Nothing is going to be handed to you, so you need to work for it. I worked hard in my own life to get what I want, and I want them to do the same. Working in this profession and watching my own children grow up has helped me feel fulfilled in my life. My children are now having kids of their own, and the wisdom I gave to them will now be passed onto their children.
My brothers and I may have been given up by our parents for an unknown reason, but that didn’t stop us from living a meaningful life with our foster family. I may have been born with a birth defect, but it never deterred my progress of living an extraordinary life. It wasn’t that life was easy for me by any means. To have a life where I could thrive, I had to face my situation with a positive mind. I never looked at what I didn’t have in life. I felt lucky for the things I did have, and I was thankful that my birth defect didn’t affect me as bad as other children born with complications. Being born a little different doesn’t always mean you have to live your life differently. An optimistic mindset makes all the difference.
I’m living a normal life, and I’m very happy with how it has turned out.
-This is the story of Rita Jones-
Rita Jones is a proud mother of three boys and a grandmother of two girls and a boy. She lives in Blue Ash, Ohio and works as the lead teacher at a daycare center. Though she was born with a birth defect that makes one of her legs shorter than the other, she refused to let the difference change the way she lived her life. She likes to spend time with her grandchildren in her free time. She’s currently looking forward to getting her driver’s license.
This story first touched our hearts on December 16, 2017.