John McCain has seven children. Two he adopted from his first wife, Carol Shepp, and one he had with Shepp when they were married. He went on to divorce Shepp and married wife Cindy, with whom he had three children and adopted another. And, it was actually wife Cindy’s idea to adopt their youngest child.
When Cindy McCain first met her daughter Bridget McCain, at an orphanage called Sisters of Charity of Mother Teresa Children’s Home, in Bangladesh, she was asked to help the child, who had a severe cleft palate. Bridget had been placed in the orphanage after a cyclone hit the area in 1991, but her cleft palate made it difficult for her to be fed by the nuns at the orphanage, according to Telegraph.
According to The Huffington Post, Cindy McCain was initially bringing Bridget to the United States to give her medical care, but ended up bonding with the infant and surprised her husband with a new baby. In an interview with The Sunday Mail, Cindy recalled, “While working at Mother Teresa’s orphanage in the early 1990s, I stumbled upon the most beautiful little girl I’d ever seen. She had a terrible cleft palate. She had problems with her feet. She had problems with her hands. She had all kinds of problems. As only Mother Teresa can, she prevailed upon me to take this baby and another baby to the United States for medical care.”
Over the years, Bridget underwent surgeries to correct her cleft palate, which motivated her mother, Cindy, to become an advocate for the charity Operation Smile, according to SBS. Cindy has been working with the charity since 2001 and has even been known to participate in surgeries, putting on scrubs to assist in the operations.
According to ABC News, Operation Smile has given out free facial surgeries all over the world, fixing those with cleft palates, cleft lips or severe deformities. When discussing the impact of these surgeries to ABC, Cindy McCain explained that, “A child that would probably be kept in a closet or kept in the back part of the house and never really be seen by family friends or neighbors … can not only come out but can have a productive, fulfilling life.”
She went on to talk about how personal Operation Smile has become for her, since adopting Bridget. Cindy said, “I have a very soft spot in my heart for Operation Smile. I think many times I gain more from this than the people that we help do because it revitalizes me. I think you can lose track of things inside a campaign bubble, so I think it’s very important to get out and go back to what I do best and love most and that’s this.”
In 2008, when John McCain’s daughter, Bridget, was introduced at the Repbulican National Convention, one of the nuns from the facility said she barely recognized her, as reported by Getty Images. Sister Shuporna said that she cared for Bridget when she was born, for her first weeks of life.