The day your child is born will be imprinted in your memory forever. The first glimpse of your child’s adorable face is something you will never forget—but what if the baby’s face is severely deformed!

This is a heart-touching story of one amazing man, who was born with an “ugly” face and deformed legs, but in spite of his major birth defects he walked through his life courageously—truly setting an example for mankind.

Robert Hoge, now 46 years old, was born in the age where there were no scans to catch a glimpse of your baby’s face before the delivery; even if your child were to have any physical or facial abnormalities, you wouldn’t be able to detect them until the moment you saw them with your own eyes. This is exactly what happened in the case of Hoge.

When Robert’s mother, Mary, saw her fifth child for the first time, she was shocked to the point that she even refused to take her child home.

His mother confessed to her sister that “he is so ugly.” While many people may quickly condemn this mother for speaking about her own son in such a mean manner, seen from a more compassionate point, it’s also a situation where she had to deal with the shock of giving birth to a child with such debilitating physical problems. At that time, she simply didn’t want to take him home.

The family, of course, took little Robert home, even after suggestions that he be kept in an institution. Robert had to undergo several surgeries after his birth, one being the removal of the facial tumor that had grown roughly to the size of a tennis ball. He also was required to have both of his legs amputated to make room for prostheses.

Robert explained to NPR how he used to respond to other children’s awkward questions pointing out his deformities…

When they asked him “Why do you have a squished nose?” or other such questions about his abnormal appearance, Robert would simply and confidently answer, “I was born that way.” And nine times out of 10, the questioning wouldn’t go further than that… “That satisfied them, and it most certainly satisfied me,” added Robert.

He had the choice of undergoing even further reconstructive surgeries to hide the marks left by past surgeries, but at the age of 14, he decided against it. “We ended up talking about some of the potential side effects of the operations, and because they were again moving my eyes a little bit closer, there was a chance—and a significant chance—that I might go blind,” he said.

After undergoing 24 surgeries till that time in his life, he decided to stop—he was comfortable with the way he was.

Robert didn’t let his appearance be an obstacle to his life. At 30, he got married and became a father of two daughters.

Robert has spent his time as an author and a motivational speaker, and he even served as a political adviser to the former Queensland Premier and the Deputy Premier.

His experiences in life up to this point have served as the motivation for a book that was released in 2013: He authored a book called Ugly, detailing his life journey and his various struggles in life.

Robert wants children to get comfortable with all kinds of people, regardless of their appearance.

In an article that he wrote for Mamamia, Robert sums up the message that he wants to pass on to the young children struggling with differences in physical appearances. “We need to expose the kids to the beauty, and diversity of people and humanity—all kinds beautiful as well as ugly. Kids need to understand that most of us have at one time or another felt beautiful,ugly, smart or just pimply. Then they need to understand that no one is just pretty, ugly, smart, just pimply and poor or a fast runner or wheelchair bound. It is that No one is just only any one of these things.”