María Ortiz grew up at the Ranch with her brother Agustin and Sister Lupita. The Ranch got word that Maria’s biological mother was gravely ill. Maria was able to see her mother just before she died. On her death bed, her mother told her that she had a younger brother who had been born with a disability and was placed as a newborn child in a different home. Maria was 16 years old at this time and had no idea she had another brother in the world.
Rod and Tina promised that they would help her find her brother. They began an exhaustive search for her brother beginning with inquires at Mexico’s Department of Social Services. All they knew was his last names. Through a friend of the Ranch who works for DSS, amazingly they found Maria’s brother, Rubén, after a long and difficult search.
They were given permission to visit Rubén but warned that Ruben was violent and lacked social skills. They arrived at the home where Ruben was placed just south of Ensenada. Maria was with Rod, Tina and their daughter Rocio. An incredible thing happened when the 4 of them walked into the room where Ruben was. Ruben got out of his chair and ran right to his sister Maria (not to any of the other three). They had never seen each other before. He hugged her and looked up to her. Mary had tears in her eyes. It was apparent that Ruben had no idea who she was but felt a connection with her.
Maria cried most of the way home that day and vowed that she would become an advocate for children… and to make sure that brothers and sisters were never separated again. Rancho Santa Marta intervened and was able to get custody of Ruben and bring him home to his brother and sisters at the Ranch. He was 12 years old when he arrived, never been to school or taught how to communicate… essentially ignored for 12 years. Ruben was born with Down Syndrome and needed intense intervention; his violent outbursts was the only way he knew to communicate: he would hit, bite, kick, attack, scream, break anything around him. He didn’t know any better.
For the next three years at the Ranch he learned signed language to communicate, he learned to use simple words to say what he needed in proper ways and now obeys instructions. He is a completely different child now. Ruben graduated from the Ranch’s elementary special needs program last year. He helps out around his home, he enjoys taking the wheel barrow around while his house father, Martin picks up the weeds. And above all he is with his family: Agustin, Maria and Lupita.
Maria is in her third year of university in Ensenada majoring in civil Law. She committed to her mission to fight for children’s rights in Mexico and hopes to affect real change as an advocacy attorney. Rod and Tina have let Maria know that Ruben and her family will always have a home with them at the Ranch. Both Ruben and Agustin (Agustin has mental disabilities as well) will move into the Victor’s house very soon. The Ranch continues to support Marie financially as she finishes her degree as she pursues her mission to make a difference in the lives of needy children.