by Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN News
For the Reddig family in North Dakota, the unconditional love they have for their adopted son goes beyond physical appearance, ability, health and borders.
This is the amazing journey of 11-year-old “Ryder” Jomar Reddig.
Although blind in one eye, when Jomar Ronquillo met the Reddig family back in 2014, it was love at first sight.
“I just knew that we would be a forever family with him, because he’s such a loving and kind boy,” said Jomar’s new sister, Jadyn Reddig. “It’s just amazing.”
Born with part of his brain outside of his skull, a rare birth defect called fronto-ethmoidal encephalocele — which includes a facial deformity, partial facial paralysis, blindness and deafness to the right side — little Jomar was orphaned at age 5.
At age 9, in July 2014, he was part of the Summer of Hope hosting program in Wyoming.
When the Reddigs saw his picture from their friend, this family’s lives were forever changed.
“I opened up the picture and immediately, I recognized him as my son,” said mother Alyson Reddig. “It was kind of this intuition and feeling and connection that I had to him, and so I showed [my husband] Quinn and we agreed as a family to meet him.”
“We talked about the idea of adopting, but it wasn’t something that was really to the forefront of our minds at the time,” said Quinn. “Until we saw his picture and his profile, and like [Alyson] said, we kind of fell in love with him, and wanted to really pursue him.”
After nearly a two year adoption process, the Reddigs eventually brought Jomar from Rizal area in the Philippines to Minot, North Dakota.
Jomar eventually chose his new name — Ryder — and he has become a welcomed addition to the family which already has two children, Jadyn and Addison.
“It’s pretty awesome to have two different cultures in one family, like Americans and Filipinos,” said Jadyn. “It’s really cool, the Filipino language… we’re starting to learn Tagalog, and he’s starting learn English.”
Since Ryder’s arrival, it’s become a series of hospital visits — treating existing conditions, while diagnosing new ones.
“So he needed to have a brain surgery, and that was a pretty big operation in October,” said Alyson. “During that procedure, they did a cranial graft for the nose, to help build up the nose….so they started to rebuild and do reconstructive surgery. Afterwards, he had phone anchored hearing device surgery.”
“He’s completely blind in the right eye, and completely deaf on the right side,” she added. “Nobody knew he was deaf and legally blind before he arrived, so that’s been nice, to help him with his reading and his school work.”
But for the Reddig couple — who both have a history of humanitarian and missionary work — the gift of giving has come full circle.
Celebrity doctors have stepped up to donate procedures…
And the family has also been raising funds online to help with expenses during Ryder’s procedures — which takes the family of five out of state for long periods of time.
“It’s neat. It’s a blessing for sure,” said Quinn.
“It’s been exciting to have other people on get board with our excitement and our desire to help Ryder,” said Alyson. “Just seeing how people come together and work together, and collaborating together. It’s just awesome to be part of that.”
With his hearing improved, Ryder is discovering new talents, taking classes with his musical family, and he already knows what he wants to be when grows up — a chef.
Ryder has completed the first phase of his procedures, and will be back in Southern California in the summer, where operating doctors will make his face more mobile.
And that means one thing: that this boy’s adorable smile will only be getting bigger.
To learn more of Ryder’s story, help fund his procedures and family’s travels, donate to Ryder’s Hope: https://pages.giveforward.com/medical/page-tnnmcs3/