By Liana Jacob
MEET THE dad with dwarfism who is raising his daughter with the same condition alongside his ‘average sized’ fiancé and says he was really happy to find out his daughter was going to be ‘little’ like him.
Cristian Garcia (25), from California, USA, was born with achondroplasia, a rare genetic form of dwarfism which results in short upper arms and thighs.
Growing up was never an issue for Cristian due to his confident and positive attitude, despite being stared or pointed at. He met and fell in love with his fiancé, Jennisser Gomez, through a mutual friend and they both welcomed their daughter (now 19-months), Camila, in May 2017.
As Jennisser is of average height, Camila had a 50 percent chance of being born with the same condition as her father. During one of their ultrasound appointments, Cristian was happy to learn that his daughter would be born with achondroplasia like him. Since he was born ‘little’ he felt like he could use his own personal experiences to pass on to his daughter, who he now says exhibits his confidence.
“Growing up with achondroplasia was not as bad as people may think; I always knew I was different. I was aware of the stares and the pointing but never let any of that get to me,” Cristian said.
“I was very energetic and very positive-minded; I always loved being centre of attention, putting on a show and making people laugh. There were complications here and there but nothing a stepping stool couldn’t fix.
“My fiancé and I met through mutual friends. We all started hanging out together. We then started to hang out on our own without the group and built an awesome friendship.
“We were really into each other and saw each other more than friends. So, we got together as boyfriend and girlfriend.
“My fiancé Jennisser has always been very supportive in anything that I do since the moment we met. She is a very loving person and doesn’t see me for being little. She has a huge heart and sees me for who I am.
“Obviously we knew Camila had a fifty percent chance of being born with achondroplasia like me because I have it and the other fifty-percent chance that she wouldn’t because my fiancé Jennisser is of average height.
“The doctors were able to let us know before she was born that she would have achondroplasia through ultrasounds and studies showing that her bones were growing at a slower pace than the average child.
“I felt really happy knowing my daughter was going to be little like me. The reason I say this is because I was born little, and I know the things she will go through.
“But I know that the negative things will toughen her up and keep her strong-minded like me. She might have to go through things a bit different than the average child but I’m here to teach her and guide her.
“Jennisser loves Camila unconditionally and was never bothered by the fact that she could be born with achondroplasia like me. She knew it could happen and was all for it.”
There are two forms of restricted growth, also known as dwarfism, which are; proportionate short stature (PSS), a general lack of growth in the body, arms and legs, or disproportionate short stature (DSS), where the arms and legs are particularly short.
The rare genetic condition, achondroplasia, is the most common cause of DSS and it isn’t always inherited from the family as many children with achondroplasia have parents of average height.
Despite his confidence in Camila’s future, Cristian says he sometimes worries about other people not giving her the chances she deserves because of her condition.
“I am very excited for Camila’s future. She is very beautiful and already confident and a very smart girl. I know that she is going to impress the world with all the things she is able to do,” he said.
“She has a very smart mother and a very motivating and inspiring father who will be there for her all along the way. She will impact the world – I know it.
“The only thing that worries me is if someone doesn’t give her an opportunity at something because of her small appearance.
“Other than that, she will be great because those who do give her opportunities will be very glad they did because of what she will prove she is capable of.
“I’ve received a lot of comments from people about Camila being little but usually the negative ones are from people we don’t really know.
“For example; someone sees her and think she is so cute and beautiful (because she truly is) and they say, ‘she’s going to be tall like mummy’, because it’s kind of hard to tell she has achondroplasia since she’s still young.
“Then I tell them that she is not, and they say, ‘no way, how do you know?’ as if it’s a sickness or something will be wrong with her health or they just can’t believe it. These usually come from uneducated people.
“They also question her milestones; like her walking, ‘Why isn’t she walking yet? She should be walking by now’.
“But usually it takes a bit longer for kids with achondroplasia because of their smaller bone structure and the strength in their legs and hips.
“I definitely inform people who want to know more about her condition but also the ones who think they know it all.
“I don’t let these comments get to me because I know she’s different and will take a bit more time than others – but she will be OK. I’ve been through it all and I came out good.
“The advice I would give to someone in the same situation as me is to be confident and look at life positively.
“Everyone has issues and things they have to deal with but it’s up to us to know how to deal with it. So, make it good.”