Teacher Finds Her Student All Alone In The Hospital So She Makes Him Part Of Her Family

two Connecticut teachers

Two Connecticut teachers celebrated a very special 2022 holiday season after making one of their former students a member of their family!

In conjunction with National Adoption Day, Tim, Jenna, and Nate Riccio became an official family on November 18, 2022. Nate, along with 50 other Connecticut kids, was adopted that day. However, Nate had become part of the Riccio family long before the Waterbury juvenile court finalized his adoption!

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In fact, his journey with two Connecticut teachers started more than 1,000 days prior in 2019!

Discovering A Student-In-Need

10-year-old Nate suffers from sickle cell anemia. Complications associated with the disease brought about the amputations of Nate's legs below the knees, his left arm, and two and a half fingers from his right hand more than three years ago. And, in September of 2019, Nate was back in the hospital for emergency surgery in order to prevent an infection in his arm.

Jenna had been Nate's 1st-grade reading teacher at Waterbury's Walsh Elementary School; she'd found him to be "one of the best readers" and a joy in class. So, when he was hospitalized during second grade, she went to visit him there.

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She shared, "He was there by himself with no family. I wanted to cheer him up and have someone he knew there with him.”

Jenna learned that Nate had been removed from his home 10 days earlier, and upon his release from the hospital, Nate would be going into foster care-more than an hour away and outside the Walsh Elementary boundaries. Knowing that school was a positive, safe, and happy place for Nate, Jenna feared what might happen to the friendly, optimistic boy.

Two Connecticut Teachers Step In

Upon leaving the hospital, Jenna immediately contacted DCF to determine if and how she might become Nate's foster parent. She also spoke with Tim, her boyfriend at the time. Tim, an art teacher at the school, was initially surprised, but he became very excited about the possibility of parenting Nate, saying, "I wanted to be a part of it."

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Jenna, 37, and Tim, 38, had been teaching together for nearly ten years. They'd begun as friends and had become a couple along the way. But the two Connecticut teachers weren't yet engaged or married when they began parenting Nate. But they agreed that they wanted to help the amazing boy. Tim said, “He is so outgoing and so resilient. He finds a way to do whatever he puts his mind to.”

While Nate completed his recovery, Jenna completed the required background checks and home visits, and Nate went home with her on October 3, 2019. The three immediately became a family. Tim proposed to Jenna three months later on New Year's Eve, and they married in May 2021. And the three welcomed a baby girl into the family in early 2022! What a journey it has been!

One Big, Happy Family

Nate now has a little sister named Julian, and the two are best friends. Jenna said, "Nate is Julian's favorite person, hands down. She lights up every time he’s around."

Tim, Jenna, and Nate have celebrated many milestones over the last few years. They were together when Tim proposed to Jenna. Nate served as the ring bearer at the couple's wedding. They shared the gender reveal party before Julian came along, and Nate acted in his first play-he wants to be an actor one day. But, perhaps the most exciting day for the three was when the family they already had become became fully legal! After 1,142 days as a foster child, Nate became a Riccio!

Nate says that “Every night, I go to sleep thinking, ‘I’m very lucky.’ ” However, it is Jenna and Tim that claim to be the lucky ones.

“I’m happy that I never have to imagine life without Nate,” says Jenna.

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"When you are harvesting in your field, and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless, and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands." Deuteronomy 24:19

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h/t: People

Featured Image Credit: Facebook/Reed Lohrenz