Stacey Gagnon and her husband have six children, four of whom have special needs—including their son Joel, who was born with a cranio-facial impairment and is missing an ear. Last Sunday, the proud mom and dad decided to take the whole crew to a new church, because their oldest son was speaking about his camp experience. But sadly, things did not go as planned.
"Today hurt," Stacey explained in a now-viral Facebook post later than day. "The minute we walked inside, the room became silent and every child stared or pointed at my son, Joel. I know he looks different, but today hurt. I stood at the door and watched every child look with eyes wide and mouths open at my child. I stepped in and was about to address the entire class about differences; but then I stopped. I stopped and looked to the back of the room where my son had fled to hide. He had buried his head in his arms because you cannot hide in plain sight."
Stacey held and consoled her child during the service, and he wrote the words "Joel loves Mom" on her palm. So heartbreaking!
"Tears welled in my throat," she recalled. "My beautiful and loving son deserves so much more than stares and pointing. So I ask all parents this, teach your children. Teach your children that many people look different. Show them pictures of people that look different. And then explain that it is not okay to stare at someone that looks different, it's not okay to point. Teach them that my boy is the same on the inside as your child is. Teach your child that a beautiful person is found with the heart; not the eyes."
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Such beautiful words coming out of a painful experience. We applaud this courageous mama for not only sharing her story, but for trying to help make the world a better place—for her son, and all of us.