Never in their wildest dreams did Rita Marlow and Seth Lentchner think they’d be adopting their son’s closest friend, but they had no choice when that boy needed aid.
After hearing that Nate, their son’s soccer buddy, had been evicted, the couple from Bensalem, Pennsylvania, volunteered to assist him. Just recently, he was legally adopted as their son.
About nine years ago, Rita and Seth met Nate, who is now 16 years old, via the sport of soccer that their son, Zachary, played. It wasn’t long before the little boys were best buddies, and their families were acquainted.
They learned of Nate’s family’s hardships as the years passed. On Friday, the family would come to get the kid and keep him for the weekend. The family saw him, and he spent more time at their place as he matured.
Rita and Seth received a phone call in 2016 at a soccer competition informing them that Nate had been taken from their house. They were hoping to find out whether they could maintain the boy’s interest in the sport.
Later that week, Nate’s caseworker approached them about fostering.
“We never even thought about it,” Rita said on TODAY. “They said they were inquiring because Nate had shown interest in relocating to our home.”
Rita initially discussed it with her son Zach. Nate needed their assistance, she said, but they would have to sleep in the same bed. When asked, the young man made no protests. Just “Absolutely,” he said. Helping Nate is a need.
It became a source of some anxiety for Rita that they would not be able to make ends meet. Also, she didn’t want to let Nate down. In the end, however, she didn’t need to worry; the other mothers at soccer practice, as well as their friends and some of their family members, all pitched in to assist in various ways. Everything from gift cards to bunk beds was given away.
Rita said that “everyone quickly stepped forward” to ensure the child’s success, adding, “and that’s why I sound so cliché about saying ‘our community.'” For the last five years, that’s the way it’s been. We put up the roof, but many others have lived here throughout the years.
Nate, then 13, had been living with Rita and Seth for approximately a year and a half when he decided to stay with them permanently.
Ultimately, he chose to live with us because “he felt at home here,” as Rita put it. When everything changed, we began the adoption procedure and returned to the reunification phase (with his birth mother). It was disheartening every time that occurred. He (seemed) doomed to (constantly) fail in his attempts to achieve his goals. He just cared about having the adoption paperwork in hand.
However, in November 2020, they received the news they had anticipated. They learned that Nate was being adopted by his case manager. Rita said this Thanksgiving was the “greatest” they’ve ever had.
And on that day in 2021, after precisely 1,758 days, or almost five years, in foster care, Nate became their son.
They were first advised that just six persons were allowed in the courtroom. Kari, JT, and Cameron had to make sacrifices to let their family members attend. Seth invited his soccer-playing relatives since they received a phone call indicating there was no limit.
On the day of Nate’s adoption hearing in Bucks County, fifty-two adults and children dressed alike in blue shirts showed up at the courthouse.
From the time people began streaming in, as recounted by Rita: “I was facing the judge, and his grin grew wider and wider with each new face that entered the room.” Having so many individuals who cared about Nate that day gave me chills.
Nedra McCormac, a soccer parent, enlisted the help of neighbours and acquaintances to surprise her children with a party in the front yard.
Nedra also got gifts from neighbours and local businesses, which she used to deck out the yard and give Nate over $1,000 in gift cards.
Rita appreciates everyone who has been there from the beginning.
“Having everyone present to participate in this happiness… It’s almost as if everyone else has been here with us the whole time,” she remarked.