LUBBOCK, Texas - Considered a Christmas miracle to his family, Kaidyn Olivo was born with Goldenhar Syndrome. The rare congenital defect affects the way some parts of the head develop.
"When I saw Kaidyn, I was kind of, it sounds bad but I was kind of shocked," Janette Olivo, Kaidyn's mother said.
Kaidyn was Janette Olivo's second child. There were no complications with her pregnancy and her doctors didn't report anything unusual.
"I was thinking like what did I do wrong for him to come out like this. Like I did everything that, I didn't do nothing wrong, you know but I was thinking what, why, I know you shouldn't question, but I was always questioning why did this happen, but I fell in love with him and I never left his side," Olivo said.
Goldenhar Syndrome generally targets the ears, nose, soft palate, lip and mandible. Kaidyn's had surgeries on each of those and other affected areas.
"It's just hard to see that, hooked up to all of the machines and I just hate hospitals. I hate them. It's just you don't want to see that, you don't want to see anybody go through that," Coi Gleason, Kaidyn's stepfather said.
Kaidyn was in the NICU for more than a month. By the time he was five years old, he had gone under the knife 23 times. His mother, Janette, said that's enough for now.
"He's had some bad experiences, but even with all of that, he's still a fighter and he's still happy," Olivo said.
He is nine years old now, and despite going through so much, he maintains a brilliant smile.
"Kaidyn's really, really strong. He doesn't know it, but he is and he's a fighter and he is, he's just a strong little boy," Olivo said.
"This little boy has inspired all of us, all of us. He's taught all of us," Dorothy Olivo, Kaidyn's grandmother said.
The family's motto is "God's not going to give you more than you can handle." It has kept them together and strong for their fighter and each other.
"My daughter has gone through alot, alot, alot, alot and I always told her that I admire my daughter for being that patient mother. You can't give up on a child, you can't give up on your daughter, you can't give up. You know, it doesn't matter, those are your children. You're going to be strong, even though it's so hard, you're going to be strong and you're going to be strong for them," Dorothy Olivo said.
His mom said it's tough for Kaidyn to be out in public, though.
"He's kind of shy with people because he feels like everybody is staring at him, and he tells me 'why are they looking at me' or he doesn't like to go to parks, he doesn't like to be out in public because he feels like everybody is just looking at him," Janette said.
Goldenhar Syndrome's made Kaidyn look a little different and it can be tough to talk, but it hasn't slowed him down.
"He's definitely a hand full. He likes to do all types of things and just a normal boy. Normal, crazy going, doing everything, want to do everything kid. He outdoes me most of the time, too," Gleason said.
"He can always put a smile on your face. He is such a, he's a happy boy," Olivo said.
His families message is we should all be more inclusive and love unconditionally.
"I think it's just taught me to not look at everybody like in a different way. Everybody is the same way, just treat them as we're all the same. Nobody looks the same, but we all have the same heart," Olivo said.
Kaidyn still needs more surgeries, specifically on his jaws. As he gets older, it will get larger, so it'll be a repeat procedure until he's grown up. By then, Kaidyn hopes to be an artist, drawing regularly in his spare time.