Jodi Kacz, 45, is a veteran English teacher at Manuel Pena Jr. School in Phoenix, Arizona, who is loved by the hundreds of students she's taught in her time. But because of a heart condition, she's been prevented her from having children of her own with her husband for the past 16 years.
And then in 2014, a child who spoke little English joined her reading-intervention classes. She instantly fell in love: “I used to always tell my husband, ‘There’s a kid at school and if I could adopt, I would adopt a kid just like him.'”
Then one day, Orlando’s best friend made a decisive move. He pulled Kacz aside and explained that he was a foster child with an unfortunate past. Orlando, a fourth grader, was born in Tucson, making him a U.S. citizen, but somehow he ended up in a Mexican orphanage, spending several years there until the mistake was spotted and he was brought back to Arizona to live with a foster family.
“I had no idea this beautiful child I fell in love with was up for adoption,” Kacz told KGW8. “Eventually I said, ‘This is meant to be. This connection I feel is from above.’”
For two years, Jodi and her husband Scott, also a teacher, have been working to adopt Orlando. Now 11, Orlando was officially adopted by Jodi and Scott on November 19 — National Adoption Day.
"Orlando is so overjoyed he’s with my husband and I that he finally found his forever home,” Kacz said. “He tells me I’m the mom he always wished for.”
Just in time for Thanksgiving.