Jenna Riccio was an elementary school teacher at Waterbury, Connecticut’s Walsh Elementary School. In December 2018, she met Nathaneal, also known as “Nate,” a new student who had been moved into her class. From the minute she met Nate, Jenna felt a weird and inexplicable bond.
She noted that he was kind, reticent, quiet, and reserved. On occasion, she saw him crying uncontrollably and wished nothing more than to comfort him. Nate was the lone wheelchair-using student at his Connecticut school, where he enrolled mid-year.
According to Jenna, it took Nate a long time to get comfortable with other pupils and the school atmosphere. But there was something more about her new student that the Walsh Elementary teacher did not realize at the time.
Doctors had to amputate both of Nate’s legs below the knee, a portion of his left arm, three fingers, and a portion of his ear due to his sickle cell anemia. Jenna had heard about HbSS before, but until she met Nate, she had no idea what it was like to live with the illness.
Due to his condition, the little youngster had been hospitalized several times and faced unfathomable suffering. In 2019, he was hospitalized once again, and when Jenna found out that her cherished student was ill, she dropped everything to see him.
As a result of her deep interest in the little boy’s life, Jenna learned something heartbreaking: Nate had been taken from his biological family’s home and faced the possibility of being placed in foster care. She felt sorry for the youngster, who had no relatives or friends there during his most difficult period.
Jenna felt a peculiar calling and realized she had to do more for Nate than serve as his teacher and visit him in the hospital. Subsequently, she chose to become his foster mother, and in less than two weeks, she completed all necessary background checks and training classes.
While Nate healed, Jenna worked quietly in the background to bring him home, and on October 3, 2019, the two left the hospital together. In the meanwhile, Jenna’s love life proceeded, and she got engaged to Tim Riccio, an art teacher at Walsh Elementary who had previously taught Nate.
When the pair addressed their wedding preparations, Jenna expressed her desire to adopt Nate in the future, and she was ecstatic when Tim shared her views. On May 15, 2021, surrounded by family and friends, they exchanged vows; Nate acted as their ring bearer.
Jackie Vidal, Nate’s caseworker, commented on the event as follows: The love in the room was extraordinary. People were required to form a queue to dance with Nate. Nate became a doting elder brother in February 2022 when Jenna and Tim welcomed a baby daughter, Julien. Jenna characterized Nate and Julien’s relationship as follows that she is enamored with him and becomes ecstatic whenever she hears his voice.
Nate did not become Jenna and Tim’s son until November 19, 2022, despite the fact that the Riccios had always regarded him as a member of the family. On National Adoption Day, 10-year-old Nate was finally given a surname and a new identity: he became a beloved elder son and a proud older brother.
Nate Innocent Riccio was all smiles as he embraced his parents and younger sister after the conclusion of the adoption hearing. Giovhany Mondestin, his elder biological brother, was also there for the momentous event. He was pleased to see his younger brother happy and secure with his new family.
He emphasized how difficult it was to watch his sibling move in with another family. Giovhany was confident that things had worked out for the best after seeing Jenna and Tim’s undying devotion to and care for Nate.
Nate’s trip was everything but simple. When Jenna became his foster mother, he experienced inexplicable emotions and was uncertain of his ability to live in a new environment. But when he got constant affection, care, and attention from the Riccios, he knew he belonged with them.
During his first year with Riccios, the child experienced his first Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, as well as his first swimming and beach visits. Due to COVID-19, the Riccios were compelled to alter their original plans to celebrate their son’s first birthday with them.
Through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Nate even met his hero, actor Grant Gustin, who portrays the lead in the television series “The Flash.” Every day with the Riccios was full of excitement, love, and happiness, and he felt blessed to be a member of their family.
It was an honor and a privilege to witness the palpable love throughout the adoption ceremony of ‘Nate the Great’ today,…Posted by Office of Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz on Friday, 18 November 2022
Yet it was Jenna and Tim who daily praised God for the gift of Nate. Jenna, 37, raved about how he taught her to be a mom, while Tim, 38, saw his kid as a brilliant symbol of hope and resilience. She further mentioned that he has experienced so much in his ten years on earth, but he greets each day with a grin, eager to take on the world. He is an inspiration not just to her and Tim, but to each and every member of their family.
The Riccios hope that their tale will increase awareness of sickle cell anemia and inspire families to explore foster care and adoption.
Connecticut teacher fosters then adopts student
A Connecticut teacher fosters and then adopts her student. ❤️ “He is an inspiration,” said Jenna Riccio, who adopted Nate with her husband Tim in November 2022. https://gma.abc/3l8jJRtPosted by Good Morning America on Friday, 3 February 2023
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