I have thought about this little guy many times. Like Ben and Paul, he was born in 2011, so he holds a special place in my heart. When I look at Paul and see how far he has come- how healthy he has become, how his interests, awareness and abilities have developed, how strong he is- I imagine how Cristoff could be.
In his older photos, you can see how alert he is, despite his circumstance. He is clearly small and unhealthy, but he has a light in his eye. This is much more than Paul had.
But he has been in the orphanage for a long time- he is either 5 yrs old, or close to it. These are photos from just last week:
These photos are a warning to us! He is dying before our eyes. He is at the age when orphans leave the “baby house” and are transferred to a different orphanage. The team advocating for him in his country tells us this will happen to Cristoff soon, and that where he is going is a bad place. Just as many other orphans, Cristoff will not survive long after he is transferred.
I want to take a moment to decode some of his diagnoses, because he has a seemingly intimidating list.
Down Syndrome– well, we know about this one, don’t we? Nothing to be scared of.
Profound intellectual disabilities/profound mental delay– They have no idea. Really. Yes, people with Down Syndrome have cognitive and developmental delay, but all this “profound” talk? No. He is living in an orphanage. He is understimulated and neglected. He is malnourished and unhealthy. He probably has some institutional behaviors because of how he is treated. All of these things impact how functional he is, and therefore, how intelligent he seems. But you honestly won’t know anything until he is home for years. He needs time to help undo the harm that has been done, to get healthy and safe, and in a place where he can actually learn AND show you what he knows. So basically, you should ignore this diagnosis. Just my opinion.
Eating disorder/Vomiting associated with other psychological disturbances– My best guess at what this means: he throws up as a stim. Due to neglect, some kids rock back and forth, some kids chew their fingers, some kids bang their heads. Paul shook his head back and forth and stared at his hand. Cristoff makes himself vomit. It’s not unheard of. I think that is why they are saying that it’s an eating disorder/associated with something psychological, instead of saying that it’s something physiological, like a food sensitivity. That’s not to say that it isn’t physical, because medical info on these kids isn’t always accurate. Kids with low tone often throw up (Paul did this a ton!) because tone effects every muscle, including the sphincter that closes off the stomach, so until his tone improves, he may well vomit often. It could also have to do with HOW they feed him. For expediency, they are probably slicing open the top of a nipple so formula comes out quickly, making kids eat fast. This alone could cause him to vomit at every meal (and yes, he probably still is fed primarily by a bottle!) My point is, this is manageable. Please don’t be frightened by “psychological disturbances.” It sounds worse than it probably is.
Umbilical Hernia– Mayo Clinic tells me these are common and typically harmless.
Exotropia– a type of strabismus, so basically an eye that turns in, or having crossed eyes. Depending on his type, this can be managed with glasses, eye patching, or possibly surgery.
Open foramen ovale– a little hole in the heart that doesn’t close up by birth. Most people who have this don’t even know they have it. It causes no problems or complications, and doesn’t need treatment. When you adopt a child with Down Syndrome, you’ll get a referral to a cardiologist no matter what, just to have him checked out, so this really won’t be much of an inconvenience for you.
As if all that wasn’t enough good news for you, here’s some more: He has over $3,000 in his grant to pay for his adoption! That’s a great start (and you could add to it, too!) And I do intend to blog about the money side of things because I know that is intimidating. But I will just say this for now: God will not be outdone in generosity. Please pray about adopting Cristoff, and if not him, then someone else. There is no shortage of children waiting for families, in this country and in others.
And lastly, pray for this little boy. He is innocent and pure, just trying to survive. He has lived through more trials and suffering than most of us, and he is only 4/5 yrs old. Pray for him, his health, and that his family finds him quickly.