Parents of the year: Adam and Tanya Phillips. The reason they endured hours of tattooing will warm your heart.

February 27, 2015

Forget the typical skulls or butterfly tattoos: This family went for something a little more meaningful.

When Tanya and Adam Phillips' daughter Honey-Rae was born with a large, red birthmark running from her right foot all the way up her leg to her back, they were worried she’d grow up feeling self-conscious about it. So the British couple decided to get tattoos that matched their baby's unique feature.

“We wanted Honey-Rae to feel special, that her birthmark was something to feel proud of and not embarrassed by,” Tanya Phillips told the U.K.’s Mirror. “We knew we had to do something to ensure Honey-Rae grew up knowing she was very much loved.”

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Tanya, who's a mom of four, including Honey-Rae, said the first time she saw the birthmark she broke down in tears. “I just sobbed and sobbed knowing my baby was going to be permanently marked for the rest of her life,” she said. “Although in our eyes she was perfect, I knew other people would cruelly point and stare at her.”

Unfortunately, she suspected right. For the first few months of her 18-month-old daughter’s life, the couple always covered up Honey-Rae’s legs to avoid comments and prying eyes. Then one summer day, Tanya took Honey-Rae out shopping in a pair of shorts for the first time, and was heartbroken to see people staring.

“I stood at a check out till, when I saw an old couple whispering and staring at Honey-Rae’s leg,” she said. “I was distraught. It was the first time I had taken her out without covering her up and it confirmed all my worries and fears. People are cruel without even realizing.”

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That was the deciding moment for the mom and dad, who had already discussed getting matching tattoos for Honey-Rae. As a Christmas present last year, Tanya paid for Adam’s tattoo, a two-and-half-hour-long process, and Adam returned the favor as Tanya’s 40th birthday present last week.

Tanya said the process was “incredibly painful…but worth every second.”

“When the swelling went down, I showed Honey-Rae, and she gently touched and smiled as she said ‘Match,’ pointing to her own leg,” Tanya said. “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 and then her own birthmark and giggles—I couldn’t be happier.”

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