In Waterbury CT back in 2019 then 7 year old Nate had to have both of his legs, his left arm, and two and a half fingers on his right hand amputated due to complications from sickle cell anemia. His reading teacher, Jenna Riccio, was so fond of the boy who always brightened up her classroom that she visited him in the hospital.
While there, Jenna learned that no family came to visit Nate and that after he was discharged, he was going to a foster family more than an hour from their school. His parents abandoned him because of his medical costs and difficulties that would come upon his release. Jenna was mortified and asked his caseworker about becoming his foster parent. After getting approval, a few weeks later, Nate came to live with Jenna and her then-boyfriend, Tim Riccio. "Within weeks, it felt like we were a family," Tim recalls.
A few months later, Tim proposed to Jenna and in 2021, Nate served as ring bearer in their wedding. Then in 2022, Nate became a big brother when Jenna and Tim had a daughter, Julien. "She's obsessed with him and lights up when she hears his voice," says Jenna.
Although they considered themselves a family, it was made official when they adopted Nate last fall after 1,142 days of being a Foster family on National Adoption Day. "Every night I go to sleep thinking, 'I'm very lucky,' " Nate says, but Jenna feels like she’s the lucky one, saying, “I'm happy that I never have to imagine life without Nate."