HomeTop StoriesThe life story of Maria Raquel Dos Santos

The life story of Maria Raquel Dos Santos

ELMIRA, NY (WETM) – Maria Raquel Dos Santos turned her life from “victim to victor” after experiencing trauma and a failed international adoption at a very young age.

Raquel had a traumatic childhood in Maceió, Brazil. She lost her father at the age of 4. At the age of 7, Raquel’s mother had no choice but to put her in an orphanage due to the challenges of raising her alone.

“I had fun, I built what was my family at the time, because that’s what I’ve always longed for, you know, so it was a fun place to be. That is where I learned that cleanliness and education became so important to me,” Raquel said.

At the age of twelve, her mother was murdered by her uncle and later adopted at the age of fourteen. She was adopted by a family in Elmira and thought her life would resemble the “American Dream” she saw on TV, but instead it was a culture shock. Raquel began to lose her identity in her adoptive parents’ home.

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“When I first came in, I was told that now that you’re in America, you’re black. As if there is no Brazilian anymore. You’re like, you know, you’re nothing special. And it was quite difficult, because here I lose my culture, my country. And also myself, just to fit into this perfect family,” she said.

Although growing up with her adoptive family wasn’t perfect, Raquel says her parents made her education her number one priority. She was homeschooled because she did not know the American language, but was able to learn it within six months. She later attended Ithaca High School for 10th grade. Her parents felt this would be a good fit given the diversity in the Ithaca community.

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“That was a little bit of a challenge, just because, you know, you’re trying to figure out who you are as a teenager, and you just don’t feel like you belong. Like I’ve been the type of person where I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere and with the trauma and abuse that I’ve experienced in my life,” Raquel continues.

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At the age of seventeen, she left her parents’ home and had to figure out life on her own, but her faith kept her going despite adversity.

“My relationship with God and just the fact that he knows me and I know he’s there to protect me because there were several and I mean several times that I should have been dead but instead I woke up, so you know him My faith in him has always kept me going,” she said.

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Raquel is grateful for the group of people who support her through life. At the age of thirty-five, she is now the mother of three girls and, after several attempts, she has passed her practical cosmetology exam.

Now she tries to support people struggling with life issues through her book ‘Victim to Victor’ on Amazon, which has sold forty-nine copies since its publication.

‘There’s always someone who has it worse than you. I know and here I am. If I could do it, you could do it too. I suffer from depression, anxiety, PTSD, ADHD, you name it, so I just wanted people like me to understand that it is possible to live with that and still be successful,” she says. “It’s possible that you don’t fully believe in yourself and are afraid, but you still do it. Just do it, because you never know,” Raquel continues.

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