Marcus and Mariana’s Story
Marcus and Mariana’s Story
Nina Rodrigues* loved her grandchildren. When the state called and told her that her four-year-old grandson, Marcus, and two-year-old granddaughter, Mariana, had been horrifically physically abused and were now bouncing from foster home to foster home, her heart shattered. Marcus was diagnosed with level three autism, also known as severe autism. He needed stability. Though in her mid-50s, newly widowed and just finding her own footing once more, she was determined to be that stable place.
It was harder than she could have ever imagined.
This is Marcus and Mariana’s Story.
It Would be Easier to Think about Not Living
At age 56, Nina became a new single parent, adopting Marcus and Mariana one year after they first arrived at her home. She was sure her love and a safe and secure home would be enough to help heal their early trauma and ease Marcus’ meltdowns. “They will outgrow this,” she thought, but the behaviors only intensified with age.
Now Marcus was 18, Mariana 16, and Nina was overwhelmed, resentful, and losing hope. After hearing about Chosen from a therapist, Nina picked up the phone and found a sympathetic ear.
When Nina first met with her Chosen Care Manager, her hurt was palpable. She explained the rage she felt toward the children’s mother for first putting them in harms way and then abandoning them, the resentment she felt towards Marcus and Mariana for their behaviors, and the irritation she held for herself for not being enough. How could she possibly help them heal? Sometimes, she admitted, she felt it would be easier to think about not living.
Care. At Last.
The Care Manager began there, with Nina’s own self-doubt, self-worth and self-care. Nina must take care of herself before she could care for Marcus and Mariana in a healthy way. With that in mind, Chosen helped her create her own self-care plan.
Then they turned to the kids, and the Care Manager helped Nina understand how all their early trauma had impacted Marcus and Mariana and taught her techniques and tools to parent children with that legacy of trauma.
Mariana was listening.
Because her biological mother walked out, Mariana carried a deep sense of shame. She struggled with her own resentments–toward her grandmother, her mother, her abuser, and even Marcus whose behavior often overshadowed everything else. School struggles overwhelmed her, making her feel dumb though she certainly wasn’t.
As the Care Manager coached Nina, Mariana couldn’t help but overhear, and she took the lessons to heart. One day, she entered the room and asked if she could also learn about the impact of trauma. It was an eye opener. Mariana said, “I have been in therapy my entire life. No one ever explained to me how my past impacted the way I am now.”
Nina and Mariana began to understand why they had struggled so very much together. Out of that understanding grew compassion, forgiveness and, at last, a stronger attachment.
The change in Mariana has been nothing short of remarkable. From a shy teen who only left her room to go to school, she is now a bright, joyful 16-year-old who is looking forward to dating. She’s advocating for herself in the classroom too, finding courage to ask for help and tools she needs for success.
A New Legacy
At the beginning of their Chosen journey, Nina’s Chosen Care Manager spoke with her multiple times a day. It is simply what Chosen does to help families in crisis, and what a difference it made! She needed help, support, and someone to listen. Now, Nina trusts herself to handle the behaviors she can but also understands when and how to reach out for support.
After living with a legacy of trauma, the Rodrigues’ story is still being written with new chapters on attachment, hope, healing and transformation.
How Can Chosen Help You?
Every year, Chosen helps hundreds of adoptive families build bonds of trust and connection. And we’re looking for partners to help heal their heartbreak. Your gift gives families the assurance they need to provide attachment and permanency for kids who desperately need it.
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* Names have been changed