From the moment Hugh Dermott O'Connor--later to become Francis Joel Smith--was conceived, God's perfect plans for his life were already in motion.
Born with Treacher Collins syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects the formation of the face during the first trimester of pregnancy, Infant Hugh's face was so severely deformed emergency surgery was performed moments after his birth just so he could breathe. Soon thereafter, he was deemed deaf and retarded. If Infant Hugh survived, it was believed he was destined to live out his life inside the walls of an institution. Yet his medical team fought valiantly to save this helpless infant's life.
The LORD had other plans.
Decades earlier, his God-fearing, God-loving adopted parents--Bob and Betty Smith--were divinely brought together and prepared and placed exactly where they needed to be in order to take this struggling, suffering child who battled for survival into their home, just as they already had with ten other challenged and rejected children they adopted before him. His foster mother, Mrs. Lillian Collins--a loving Christian woman--fought to sustain him and meet his immediate needs that included his first hearing aid and hefty doses of prayer.
At two and a half years old, he was seamlessly integrated into the Smith household where daily scripture readings and prayer nourished him spiritually, and relentless ongoing tube feedings nourished him physically. Above all, Bob and Betty taught their children to love the LORD no matter what and to never give into their challenges. The LORD steadily provided for their needs, and through prayer and loving guidance, every challenge was met head-on.
Today, Dr. Francis Joel Smith is a PhD medical researcher in craniofacial development and is a world-renowned speaker, musician, and advocate for those who suffer from craniofacial anomalies as he has.
Since the book Wonderfully Made was published in 2018, Francis completed a postdoctoral fellowship in craniofacial genetics at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. He is seeking his next research and/or teaching role in the craniofacial anomalies field. He continues to do motivational speaking and lecturing in craniofacial anomalies. Alongside the piano and violin, Francis now plays the organ. He has recently returned to the Catholic church after a lifetime as a Baptist. Francis lives in Aurora, Colorado.