Teachers Overcome Unimaginable Tragedy to Adopt Student

Jenna and Tim Riccio, who are both teachers in Connecticut, recently adopted 10-year-old Nate Innocent Riccio, a student of theirs who had endured the unimaginable amid his struggle with sickle cell anemia.

Throughout his ordeal, Nate has remained positive and resilient, despite having his legs amputated below the knees, his left arm, and two and a half fingers on his right hand. After Nate was removed from his family’s home in September 2019, Jenna, who was Nate’s reading teacher, decided to take him in as a foster parent.

“He was there by himself with no family,” she recalls. “I wanted to cheer him up and have someone he knew there with him.”

When Jenna realized she had plenty of space for Nate at her home and it was near his school, she asked a Department of Children and Families caseworker, if she could become his foster parent.

When Jenna and Tim got engaged in December 2019, Nate served as the ring bearer at their wedding in May of 2021. Nate also became a big brother when Jenna gave birth to their daughter Julien. Nate was officially adopted by Jenna and Tim on November 18th of 2020, in a courtroom filled with Nate’s social workers and Connecticut Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz.

Nate is now thriving in his new family. He no longer needs to use a wheelchair and his sickle cell crises have gotten much better. He also pursues his passion for acting, hoping to one day make it to the big screen.

The Riccios hope that their story will inspire others to foster kids who need a family. “Nate taught me how to be a mother,” Jenna says.

“He’s a perfect example of how you can persevere,” adds Tim, 38, who was Nate’s art teacher.

“He is so outgoing and so resilient,” Tim says. “He finds a way to do whatever he puts his mind to.”

Through it all, Nate remains positive, saying he “goes to sleep thinking how lucky [he is]” to have such a loving and supportive family.



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