This simple teacher decided to adopt his student, no big deal!
Jenna Riccio, an elementary school teacher in Connecticut, met Nate for the first time in December of 2014, and he immediately made an effect on her.
The young youngster had transferred into Riccio’s reading class at Walsh Elementary School in Waterbury at the time.
Riccio recounted to «Good Morning America» that «He was a wonderfully sweet boy, really quiet.» «He was quite timid. He occasionally would suddenly start crying. Being the only student in our classroom in a wheelchair and transferring in the middle of the school year must have been a lot for him. He took a long time to warm up and become more approachable.»
In order to treat Nate’s sickle cell anemia, or HbSS, physicians had to amputate parts of his legs, left arm, three fingers, and one ear when he contracted a blood infection as a child.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sickle cell anemia is the most prevalent form of sickle cell disease and is a genetic condition that affects the body’s red blood cells.
Red blood cells with HbSS particularly have defective hemoglobin that has a sickle or C-shaped form. Red blood cells that the body requires to deliver oxygen to essential organs and tissues frequently die early in HbSS patients, leaving the body with insufficient numbers of these cells.
Before Nate, I had heard of sickle cell disease, but I had no idea what it entailed. It was an awful thing to witness, Riccio added. The only thing you can really do is control the pain when he experiences pain crises, which are like 10 out of 10 agonizing pain.
Riccio said she hoped Nate’s story, which affects approximately 100,000 Americans, would raise awareness of sickle cell illness. According to CDC estimates, the illness affects 1 in 365 Black children nationwide.
Riccio saw Nate in the hospital in 2019 after the disease had already led him there several times in his young life.
At that point, Riccio had discussed her student with employees from the Connecticut State Department of Children and Families and discovered that Nate had been taken from his home with his birth family and placed in foster care.
«He doesn’t have a mother, so I asked if I may go visit him in the hospital. He is not accompanied by his brother. I went to see him because I was just a little upset that he wasn’t getting any visits from anybody he knew while he was up there. And that’s when I began to consider becoming his foster mother and being there for him «She spoke.
After taking numerous classes, attending workshops, getting her background checked, and more, Riccio was given the go-ahead to take on the role of Nate’s foster mother in less than two weeks.
«It was like a crash course when workers came to check over our house and make sure everything was safe for him. We completed that in about 10 days «Riccio told a story.
She continued, «When Nate was released from the hospital, I took him home instead of sending him to his prior foster home. Therefore, I brought him up from the hospital on October 3, 2019.
In the midst of things, Riccio also became engaged to Tim Riccio, a Walsh Elementary School art teacher who also served as one of Nate’s instructors. On May 15, when the couple got hitched
Riccio said she had hoped Nate’s biological parents would one day be reunited with him, but over time, his parents’ legal rights were revoked. Riccio claimed that it was an easy choice when the state’s Department of Children and Families suggested adoption.
«It seemed obvious that Nate should be at this location because it is the best one. It wasn’t really like a lengthy conversation; it was more like, «Yes, of course we’ll do this for Nate, of course we’ll always be his mom and dad,» «She spoke.
On November 18, 2022, which just so happened to be National Adoption Day, Nate’s adoption was officially consummated. Giovhany, Nate’s older biological brother, was there with him along with the Riccios at.
«He had an amazing brother before [Nate] entered our lives. There is an 11-year age gap between him and his brother, who was Nate’s primary caregiver when I first met him as a first-grader. I am really proud of him. His brother is now 22 «said Riccio. Although he was a young man, he made an effort to ensure Nate’s well-being, which, in my opinion, has benefited Nate.
Today, Nate, 10, is «the most resilient guy» Riccio has ever met, «the best big brother» to sister Julien, and a «very extroverted» fifth grader with «the best attitude,» according to Riccio. Although the young child enjoys acting as well, he also enjoys cooking.
He has experienced a great deal in the ten years he has lived on earth, nevertheless Riccio stated, «He wakes up every day with a smile on his face, ready to confront the day. Not only to Tim and me, but to everyone in our family, he is an inspiration.
Added she, «Nate has every cause to be grumpy or grouchy—I’ve been teaching for 14 years and have met a lot of kids—but he isn’t. In reality, he is the complete opposite. There is only one light, which nothing can extinguish.»
Riccio believes that through spreading awareness about sickle cell disease, the story of Nate and her family may encourage others to think about fostering and adopting.
It will only benefit the entire world, Riccio declared.