Elias and Maritza started calling Del Norte Children’s Home their home on August 3rd. Along with their two children, they became caregivers for siblings Jessica, Natanael and Tadeo. When they moved in, they were full of questions.
Will we be able to do this? How will this impact our family?
Elias and Maritza had many concerns and fears, but they knew one truth: God had called them to this home and they would obey.
“In our weakness, make us strong,” they prayed.
Shifting from institutionalized living to family-style care has had its challenges. But as the family sits down for dinner on a chilly February night, Maritza’s eyes fill with tears of gratitude. In just a few months, God has transformed their family. While the journey has been more challenging than she and her husband imagined, she wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Nine-year-old Jessica giggles next to Zoe, Maritza and Elias’s biological daughter. As Maritza watches the girl’s interact, it’s hard to believe they are not biological sisters. Whether working on homework, painting their nails or pushing each other on the swing, their love and connection is apparent to even the most causal observer.
A year ago, the school would call the children’s home about Jessica‘s behavior every day. Karina, Jessica‘s caregiver at Del Norte, began to anticipate the call around lunchtime. She’d memorized the conversation:
“Hello. We are calling about Jessica again.”
Again. Each time the word was said, she cringed.
Jessica‘s teachers were worn down and Karina was at a loss. When confronted with a task or assignment she didn’t understand, Jessica would throw a violent fit. Sometimes she’d hurt herself, and sometimes others. But the outcome was always the same – a staff member from her children’s home would have to pick up Jessica halfway through the school day. She rarely made it through an entire day at school. Almost immediately after moving in with Maritza and Elias’s family, the phone calls from school stopped.
Family gave Jessica context for how to treat people. Maritza and Elias have created a social dynamic through example and words. Jessica has watched and experienced how a family treats people lovingly. She no longer acts out in school.
Today, Jessica smiles as she shuffles through the front door after school, slips off her sneakers and joins Maritza in the kitchen for a snack. They talk about her day and without prompting, Jessica opens her pink and white backpack and starts her homework.