As a teacher, I never thought I would adopt one of my students, but you never know what the Lord has as His will for your life.
I work at a school located in a very urban area. It’s a fairly rough school and there are a number of students who, unfortunately, are part of the Department of Children and Families. I’m used to seeing kids who come from difficult backgrounds.
I felt nudged to get personally involved with one of my students several years ago. I discovered one of my first graders was not allowed to go back home. It broke my heart. I actually thought about fostering for the first time since I was single and had an extra bedroom. But I never acted on this.
About this time, I started to go to church once again. I went as a child but now as an adult, I only attended on holidays. But I began to go regularly, and could feel my relationship with the Lord starting to blossom.
That’s when I met Nate.
Nate transferred to our school in January, 2018 as a first grader. At the time, I was teaching reading to first, second and third graders. Nate stood out from other kids because he was in a wheelchair. Both of his legs had been amputated right below the knee, as well as part of his left arm and three fingers on his right hand. I learned this was due to sickle cell anemia where red blood cells tend to die early, creating a deficit of the necessary cells which the body needs to carry oxygen to vital organs.
During his first few months at our school, Nate was shy and cried at different times. I think transferring in mid-year and being the only kid in our classroom in a wheelchair was a lot for him to handle. It took a long time for him to feel comfortable and open up to everyone.
But there was something really special about him. He was funny and sweet, and by the end of the school year, he started to shine. As a first grader, he actually read better than kids two grades ahead of him.
In second grade, Nate had to be removed from his biological parents, apparently because he was not receiving the medical follow-ups he needed. He was placed in a foster home that turned out to be about an hour from our school.
When a child enters the DCF system and enters the foster care system, DCF tries to keep the child in the same school to help minimize the number of changes for the child. Our school had become Nate’s happy place.
That year, Nate got an infection in his arm and had to be hospitalized. I thought I’d go to the hospital to visit him just so he’d have a familiar face for a couple of hours. While I was there, the DCF case worker told me his new foster family was good, but it was all new to Nate. And where they lived made it very difficult for Nate to go to our school and receive the ongoing medical attention he needed. He was on the road nearly all the time.
As a Christian, I’m always seeing a situation and asking myself, how can I make this a little better. Seeing Nate in the hospital made me revisit the thought of becoming a foster home. Perhaps this was Jesus planting the seed with me once again.
I decided to act upon it. I went through several courses and workshops, the necessary background checks and the required inspection of my home. And in less than two weeks, I was cleared to become Nate’s foster mom. When he was released from the hospital in October, 2019, he went home with me.
It was a bit of an adjustment, but we quickly developed a close bond and I could see Nate was flourishing in his new environment. My heart was also getting more attached to this wonderful child. After a year of fostering, Nate’s parents’ rights were terminated. And the thought hit me to adopt him.
But I had been dating Tim, another teacher at our school, for about a year. We’d known each other as friends for 10 years, and we were now getting very serious as a couple. I was nervous about telling him my plans, fearing it might change our relationship. But when I finally worked up the courage and told Tim, he was all for the adoption. He had known Nate from school too.
Nate was there when Tim proposed to me, and was actually the ring bearer in our wedding in May of 2021.
Nate has lived with me for almost four years. Tim and I welcomed a baby girl a year ago so Nate is now a big brother.
Nate’s medical challenges are far from over. In fact, he has had over 120 medical appointments since he’s been with me. But he’s in such a better place, both physically and emotionally. Plus, he’s ditched the wheelchair and now walks on prosthetic legs.
He is such a special young man. There’s just this light in Nate that nothing can dim. I thank God for putting Nate in my path. And in my life forever.
The Bible says to help your neighbor, and that is what we have tried to do by adopting Nate. We are to do what we can to make the world a better place. Jesus wants us to act, not just sit and talk about how to make things better.
It’s easy to be scared and intimidated. We all feel that with taking on something big. But the drive to make things better far outweighs the anxious feelings.
I hope our story helps inspire people to foster and adopt; to help just one kid, that’s my hope.