“Like, this is the best place for Nate to be in and it was a no-brainer. I don’t even think it was like a long conversation, like yes, of course we’re gonna do this for Nate, of course we’ll be his mom and dad forever,” Jenna Riccio said.
A Forever Family
The three became a permanent family unit on November 18, 2022, which so happened to be National Adoption Day. Happily, Nate’s biological older brother Giovhany was with them all at the courthouse. Jenna Riccio expressed gratefulness to Giovhany, who is eleven years older than Nate.
“Before [Nate] came into our lives, he had an amazing brother. His brother is now 22 so there’s an 11-year age difference but when I first met Nate as a first grader, his brother was his main caretaker and I give so much credit to him,” she said. “He was a young man but he did his best to make sure Nate was OK, and I think that has helped [Nate].”
Today, Nate is flourishing with his mom, dad, and baby sister Julien. Jenna says he is “the best big brother” and that his positive attitude about life inspires her every day.
Sure, she may be biased, but as Jenna points out, she’s been working with kids for a long time, and she knows an exceptional child when she sees one.
“I’ve met a lot of children — I’ve been teaching for 14 years now — and Nate has every reason to be grouchy or a grump, but he’s not” she says. “He’s actually the total opposite. There’s just this light that nothing can dim.”
Jenna hopes her family’s story raises awareness about sickle cell anemia as well as foster care and adoption. I think it does all that in spades, and also underlines the importance of what an incredible force for good a child’s teacher can be in his or her life.