10-year-old overcomes health challenges, gets adopted by former teachers – NBC Connecticut

Dozens of Connecticut children have new homes. He was adopted in celebrations across the state as part of National Adoption Day.

The 50 children adopted Friday are among 440 adopted in Connecticut for the year, according to the Department of Children and Families.

It was an especially exciting morning for the fifth grader in Waterbury and his parents. They were once his high school teachers, but now they are officially one family.

With laughter and tears, 10-year-old Nate Riccio became part of the family.

“It was so amazing! I couldn’t believe it was just happening,” said Nate.

A Waterbury juvenile court judge made it official Friday morning.

Jenna and Timothy Rico adopting Nathaniel!” she announced in the courtroom.

After the ceremony, Nate is greeted with applause.

“I’m just looking forward to the amazing future I’m going to have!” They said.

However, Nate has been a member of the family for a long time.

“It’s been the most, most incredible journey. Very emotional,” said Nate’s adoptive mom, Jenna Riccio, with tears in her eyes.

“It’s been incredible,” his adoptive father, Timothy Riccio, added on the courthouse.

Jenna and Tim Riccio first knew Nate as one of their students at Walsh Elementary School. When Nate was in first grade, Jenna was his reading teacher.

“He was super smart, one of the best readers I’ve had,” Jenna said.

Later, when Nate is in second grade, Jenna learns that he is in DCF care. She played a big role by being his foster mother.

“I’m really lucky to have them,” Nate said.

Right off the bat, the family had to stick together. Nate visited the hospital several times, and faced an uphill battle against sickle cell disease.

“It was hard. And it hurt a lot,” Nate said. “But every time she said she was there for me.”

Complications eventually forced him to have amputations on his legs and one arm.

“He’s the toughest kid in the whole world,” said Tim. “He’s gone through more in his ten years than most people I know have not gone through in their entire lives.”

But after overcoming obstacles, the family has shared major milestones.

“The night my wife and I got engaged, he was with us. At our wedding, he was standing there with me, and he was the ring bearer,” Tim said.

Another milestone, the birth of Nate’s little sister, Julianne.

Jenna said, “Nate is Julianne’s favorite person.” “She lights up every time he’s around.”

Both are best friends now.

“I play with her, she has her toys,” said Nate. “Whenever she’s fussy I usually try to entertain her.”

Other big moments include the family’s first holiday celebration, first birthday, and Nate’s first time playing in the snow or going to an amusement park.

“So many firsts with him, so many great memories and I can’t wait for what’s to come,” Jenna said.

There’s more to come, as the emotional adoption ceremony leaves Nate forever Riccio.

“I feel so happy!” Nate said after the ceremony. “And I can’t wait for this day. I’m so glad it’s finally here!”

Nate’s adoption ceremony had a special guest: Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz stood by his side.

“To see a young man who has had to overcome emotional, physical challenges that are unimaginable. And to come through all of that,” said Lieutenant Governor Bysiewicz. “Now she has found her forever home. It’s just a story of hope and resilience and it’s also a story of the great work that Department of Children and Families social workers do every day.”

In addition to more than 400 adoptions in the state this year, the Connecticut Department of Children and Families has reunited 289 children with their families and helped more than 282 children find a permanent home by transferring guardianship.

According to the department, the number of children in DCF custody or care has decreased by 30 percent since 2019.

DCF Commissioner Vanessa Dorantes said in a statement, “If a child cannot remain safely at home, we work extensively with their families and other stakeholders to provide assistance toward reunification ” Have also extended a hand to support the families in different ways.”

DCF has also set up a Heart Gallery for children who are waiting to find families.

“Whether stepping up for children with complex needs, sibling groups, teens or youth who identify as LGBTQIA+, Connecticut families have taken steps to open their hearts and homes to all children in need,” Commissioner Dorantes said. continued to pick up.”

Nate has already been living with his family for years, but he looks forward to next year of middle school as he settles into his home.

He dreams of becoming an actor when he grows up, and his parents are already helping him pursue that passion by involving him in theatre.

“It’s so bright,” Jenna said of her son’s future. “I can’t wait to see what Nate does in this world. In three years, he’s still in our family. He’s done a lot, but I’m very excited about his future.”

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