Parents get tattoos to match toddler's birthmark

Honey-Rae with her parents Adam and Tanya Phillips.
Honey-Rae with her parents Adam and Tanya Phillips.  

When Honey-Rae Phillips was born with a strawberry birthmark covering much of her left side, the little girl's parents worried she would grow up feeling different and alone.

However the concerned mum and dad soon came up with a plan to ensure that did not happen: Tanya and Adam Phillips have both had a similar "birthmark" tattooed on their left legs.

"Most people might think it's very extreme, but to us it was the natural thing to do to ensure our daughter never felt different or alone in the world," Tanya, from the UK town of Grisby, told The Mirror .

The mother-of-four paid for her husband to have his tattoo done last Christmas, and in return Adam paid for his wife's tattoo for her 40th birthday recently.

Tanya said the four-hour process was painful and admits the tattoo is a bit "garish", but she and Adam have no regrets about having them done.

She said her daughter's birthmark has not faded since she was born and actually looks darker on some days.

The couple had been considering getting matching tattoos for some time, but the final decision was made after seeing the reaction of strangers to their daughter's birthmark.

"I was at a checkout till when I saw an old couple whispering and staring at Honey-Rae's leg," Tanya told the Mirror.

"I was distraught. It was first time I had taken her out without covering her up and it confirmed all my worries and fears. People are cruel without even realising.

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"And I knew if adults could be that insensitive, then kids at school would also be unintentionally mean."

Tanya remembers feeling heartbroken the first time she saw the birthmark shortly after Honey-Rae's birth.

"She struggled to breathe when she was first born, and was rushed to the special care unit. When I went to see her she was just lying in a little incubator and that's when I saw it. It broke my heart," Tanya said.

"I just sobbed and sobbed knowing my baby was going to permanently marked for the rest of her life.

"Like any mum, I didn't want her to be different. I wanted her to be exactly the same as every other healthy child. And as much as the birthmark isn't dangerous I knew it could have a huge impact on the rest of her life.

"Although in our eyes she was perfect, I knew other people would cruelly point and stare at her. I didn't want sympathy or pity or people feeling sorry for Honey-Rae.

"Adam and I decided straight away that we wanted Honey-Rae to feel special, that her birthmark was something to feel proud of and not embarrassed by.

"From the moment she was born, we told Honey-Rae she was beautiful and constantly covered her in kisses."

Honey-Rae, who is now 18 months old, seems pleased with her parents' new tattoos.

"When the swelling went down, I showed Honey-Rae, and she gently touched it and smiled as she said 'match', pointing to her own leg," Tanya told the Mirror.

"If I'd have needed any reassurance that I'd made the right decision that was it. She now constantly touches mine and Adam's tattoos then her own birthmark and giggles. I couldn't be happier.

"Some people will say it's odd and think what we've done is quite extreme, but in our eyes all we have done is ensure Honey-Rae never feels different. Mummy and Daddy now have the same permanent markings as she does."