When Jenna Riccio learned her student was undergoing emergency surgery while also being placed in foster care, she knew she wanted to step up to the plate.
Teachers really can make such a difference in the lives of their students – even those of their former students. For one first-grade teacher in Connecticut, she has made an incredible difference in the life of a former student by adopting him.
Back in 2019, teacher Jenna Riccio discovered that her former student, Nate, had been rushed to the hospital for an emergency surgery in order to save his life from infection.
According to Good Morning America, Nate was born with sickle cell anemia, and due to some complications, surgeons needed to amputate his legs below the knees, his left arm, and two and a half fingers from his right hand. It was a traumatic experience for any kid, but one that was made even more tragic for Nate as he was living in foster care at the time of the incident.
Jenna went to see him at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, recalling to Good Morning America, “He was there by himself with no family. I wanted to cheer him up and have someone he knew there with him.”
It was when she was in the hospital for the visit that she came to find out Nate had been removed from his family’s home and placed into foster care. The family with whom he was staying lived over an hour away from where he went to school.
As Jenna stated, “It wasn’t the ideal situation for him. I worried about what was going to happen to him.”
That is when she got an idea and asked Nate’s social worker if she’d be allowed to foster Nate. When she left the hospital, she went straight home and spoke to her then-boyfriend, Tim Riccio, about her plan. Tim was also a teacher at the same school and knew Nate, so he was more than happy to proceed.
Jenna cleared the background checks and was officially about to bring Nate home October of 2019. The three quickly bonded and they began to feel like a family.
According to Yahoo!, Tim stated, “When you’re waking up with a kid in the middle of the night and helping him get dressed in the morning and giving him baths and doing all the stuff that parents do, it was only a couple months, and we were ‘mom and dad.'”
Two years passed, and Nate would go on to be the ring bearer at Jenna and Tim’s wedding. And then last February, he even became a big brother. While Nate was certainly a part of the Riccio family, it became official on November 18, 2022 when he was legally adopted.
As the now fifth grader has said, “Every night I go to sleep thinking, ‘I’m very lucky.'”
But it is his parents, Jenna and Tim, who truly feel like the lucky ones. As Jenna has explained, “I’m happy that I never have to imagine life without Nate.”
Watch the touching video below:
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