Objectives. A mother–child life history was analyzed to examine the multiple dimensions of adaptation in a family grouping, including temporality, maternal values, and life contexts.

Method. In-depth interviews, participant observation, and documents (e.g., therapy notes, medical records) produced the data for this study. A multiple step narrative analysis included narrative shaping, analysis of major life turnings, and macrostructural analysis of the progress toward life goals.

Results. This mother–child life history portrays the challenging life events of a Mexican-origin mother, Maricela, seeking care and assistance to further the development of her son with disabilities, Miguel. Major turnings in her life had both costs and benefits for her in the present and future. Analysis of her multiple roles of mother, professional, daughter, lover–wife, and spiritual devotee revealed that Maricela’s life choices, driven by maternal values, diminished the achievement of her personal goals, except those related to her maternal and spiritual roles. Maricela chose actions to realign current and future happenings with her desired life trajectory for her son, which instead of enhancing life conditions for the family often involved short-term and long-term costs.

Conclusion. This mother–child life history demonstrates that a series of moral, relational, and circumstantial factors influence a mother’s projected life courses for herself and her child. Adaptation appears to be a dynamic process of realigning life paths to desired life courses, with success evaluated not in a microcosm of time, but from a larger view as these actions contribute to the achievement of desired life goals within a constellation of the person’s life goals.

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