24 Jul The Happiness Gene: Efrain’s story
Every child in our home has a story, all of them difficult. Efrain’s story is especially hard, given all we know and the many things we may never know about his birth and complex medical conditions.
A Baby in Need of Help
Most of Efrain’s family history and birth story are a mystery to us. Even now, 15 years after arriving at our home, we don’t have a complete understanding of the circumstances surrounding his first few months. Most likely, his tremendous medical needs were a factor leading to his surrender into the family court system.
In early 2005, Efrain was welcomed into our home. Even as an infant, he was malnourished and showing signs of very serious medical conditions. He was blind, suffered from spastic paralysis, displayed severe developmental delays, and exhibited signs of a chromosomal disorder. Before long, seizures emerged, requiring even more specialized care to protect his fragile little body.
His case is classified by the court as one of abandonment. Technically, this is true, but without insight into his birth family, we’re left with many questions about why he was abandoned. Is it possible that relinquishing him into our care was the most loving choice his mother could make? Was she unable to provide the daily medical care he requires? Seeing his needs, was she afraid his only chance of survival was in the care of someone with greater resources? How much did poverty influence Efrain’s future?
We may never know the exact circumstances preceding Efrain’s time with us.
Caring for Efrain
Even now, the full diagnoses of Efrain’s medical conditions are not exact. He is essentially blind, with different conditions affecting each eye. Although his glasses offer minimal relief for one eye, he dislikes wearing them. The condition affecting his other eye is inoperable. Physically, he is immobile due to paralysis and contractures of his tendons, essentially confining him to a wheelchair. Based on long-term treatment from several specialists, it appears some of his conditions and developmental limitations are connected to a chromosomal disorder.
Efrain’s prognosis is stable. Doc Castro doesn’t expect any advancements in his intellectual or developmental condition. Nor, does he anticipate any major decline in his physical health, as long as Efrain continues to receive his current level of care. Our dedicated Special Mothers provide one-on-one care for Efrain, providing the absolute best nutrition, exercise, and attention he needs to thrive.
The thought of no progress in the fight against his medical conditions may seem defeating, but we understand the great purpose Efrain has in our home. He brings pure joy and happiness to our home. Efrain shows us all how to radiant happiness despite our limitations. Plus, he teaches our children how to compassionately care for others. Sometimes, our children understand his needs better than our staff because they have such a special bond with him.
Looking Ahead, Efrain’s Future
At 15 years old, Efrain is quickly approaching adulthood. Whereas such a significant birthday would mean our other children are progressing towards independence, Efrain’s case will move from one of a child in care to an adult in care.
Unfortunately, being adopted into a Guatemalan family is not a likely ending for this story. Older children, especially those with Special Needs, are significantly less likely to be adopted. In fact, Efrain has been considered adoptable since 2011. In 15 years, no family resource has been located to care for him, nor has an adoptive family been matched.
We are Efrain’s family and always will be.
The Happiness Gene
Efrain’s story is difficult, but his life has opened the eyes and hearts of thousands to a new definition of joy, happiness, and determination. As Doc recently shared, “Efrain has an amazing smile and I believe he has one good gene, the best, the gene of happiness. He is an angel among us.”
Everyone who spends time with Efrain experiences his spirit of joy and see the love that lives within him. He smiles widely and laughs when listening to the other children play. He subtly reacts when being held and spoken to gently. Efrain’s spirit is not confined to his physical or intellectual abilities. We invite you to be part of Efrain’s family too. You can help us care for him by becoming a monthly sponsor.