Academics Assist ‘Unbelievable’ Scholar Who Braved Amputations — and Determine to Undertake Him: ‘Our Household Is Full’

Jenna Riccio rollout

Jenna Riccio rollout

Courtesy Jenna Riccio Jenna, Nate, Tim and Julien Riccio

Connecticut lecturers and spouses Jenna and Tim Riccio say their “household is full” after they adopted certainly one of their college students, 10-year-old Nate Harmless Riccio.

“He taught me easy methods to be a mom,” Jenna — a 37-year-old studying instructor at Walsh Elementary College in Waterbury, Conn. — tells PEOPLE on this week’s subject.

“He is an ideal instance of how one can persevere,” provides Tim, 38, who was Nate’s artwork instructor.

That is as a result of Nate has endured the unimaginable amid his wrestle with sickle cell anemia — and but he is at all times maintained a optimistic outlook, the Riccios say.

Greater than three years in the past, issues led to the amputation of Nate’s legs under the knees, his left arm and two and a half fingers on his proper hand.

“He’s so outgoing and so resilient,” Tim says. “He finds a solution to do no matter he places his thoughts to.”

Nate remained optimistic even when he was hospitalized in September 2019 for emergency surgical procedure to stop an an infection in his arm. To consolation the boy who at all times brightened her studying class, Jenna determined to go go to him within the hospital.

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“He was there by himself with no household,” she recollects. “I wished to cheer him up and have somebody he knew there with him.”

Jenna Riccio rollout

Jenna Riccio rollout

Courtesy Jenna Riccio Jenna, Nate and Tim Riccio

On the hospital, Jenna discovered that Nate had been faraway from his household’s dwelling simply 10 days earlier.

“Nate’s docs have been apprehensive about him lacking appointments and never getting the medical care he wanted,” says Jenna.

Upon discharge, Nate was to be despatched to a foster dwelling greater than an hour away from the college that had turn into his glad place.

“It wasn’t the best state of affairs for him,” says Jenna. “I apprehensive about what was going to occur to him.”

Jenna realized she had loads of area for Nate at her dwelling, which is close to his faculty, so she casually requested a Division of Kids and Households caseworker if she may turn into his foster guardian.

For extra on Nate’s journey, decide up the most recent subject of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.

When she headed to her automobile to go away, she instantly known as one other DCF caseworker to additional inquire about turning into Nate’s foster guardian. Then she known as Tim, who was her boyfriend on the time. His shock shortly turned to pleasure on the prospect of parenting the boy whose infectious appeal at all times made him smile.

“I wished to be part of it,” says Tim.

After Jenna underwent background checks and residential visits to get accepted as a foster guardian, Nate went dwelling from the hospital with Jenna on Oct. 3, 2019.

“Inside weeks, it felt like we have been a household,” Tim says.

Three months later, on New 12 months’s Eve, Tim proposed. Nate served because the ring bearer on the couple’s wedding ceremony on Could 15, 2021.

“The love within the room was superb,” Jackie Vidal, Nate’s social employee, tells PEOPLE. “Individuals needed to get in line to bop with Nate.”

Jenna Riccio rollout

Jenna Riccio rollout

Courtesy Jenna Riccio Nate and Julien Riccio

Final February, Nate grew to become an enormous brother when Jenna gave delivery to her and Tim’s daughter, Julien.

“She’s obsessive about him,” says Jenna, “and lights up when she hears his voice.”

Though Nate was already a part of their household, it wasn’t till Nov. 18 that he formally grew to become Jenna and Tim’s son.

“Today is superb!” Nate exclaimed at Waterbury juvenile courtroom at his adoption listening to, which occurred on National Adoption Day.

“I used to be so glad,” he tells PEOPLE.

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After 1,142 days in foster care, the courtroom was filled with Nate’s social staff and even the Connecticut Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz.

“This boy simply actually impacts individuals in such a optimistic means — he simply exudes optimistic, joyous power,” says Vidal, who’s not a social employee however is now lovingly thought-about Nate’s “Aunt Jackie.”

Nate’s organic brother Giovhany Mondestin, 22, with whom the Riccios stay shut, was additionally there for help.

Jenna Riccio rollout

Jenna Riccio rollout

Courtesy Jenna Riccio “We’ve the very best household ever,” says Nate Riccio (with Tim and Jenna and his older brother Giovhany Mondestin at his adoption listening to in November).

“We at all times inform Nate, ‘I do know you discovered easy methods to be a very good massive brother out of your massive brother,’ ” says Jenna.

By all accounts, the boy — now within the fifth grade — is prospering.

“They handle me in each means, one of the simplest ways doable — the way in which that my mother and father weren’t in a position to,” he says.

As soon as a wheelchair person, Nate now walks on prosthetic legs. He’ll want extra surgical procedures on his amputations as his bones develop by his pores and skin, however his sickle cell crises — together with gastrointestinal points and a compromised liver — “have gotten so a lot better,” says Jenna.

Lately, when he is not enjoying along with his little sister, Nate could be discovered at an appearing workshop, pursuing a ardour that he hopes will sometime land him on the large display.

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“Each evening I fall asleep considering, ‘I am very fortunate,’ ” he says.

However his mother and father say they’re the fortunate ones.

“I am glad that I by no means need to think about life with out Nate,” says Jenna.

“If our story evokes others to foster children who want a household,” she provides, “that may be superb.”

Greater than 400,000 younger persons are in foster care, in response to the U.S. Kids’s Bureau. For extra data on turning into a foster guardian, go to

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