Daisy Rivera and Mahogany Corioso had talked about raising “a kid” together.
They hadn’t imagined raising four, but that’s what happened overnight when a social worker called and asked them to take in Rivera’s four nieces and nephews in April 2012.
“I never knew that I could be a parent the way that I am to them,” Rivera said this week at their Spanaway home. She helps marshal them to sports practices and concerts, and double-checks homework assignments.
The News Tribune wrote about the family in May, just before the couple was set to adopt 12-year-old Adrian, 9-year-old Gabriel, 8-year-old Gisselle and 4-year-old Annaligh.
A few days later, the kids told a Superior Court judge that they wanted to officially take Rivera and Corioso as their parents, and the adoption was finalized May 26.
“It was just a perfect day,” Corioso said.
And now all four children are thriving.
At the time of the adoption, money was tight. The kids pitched in to help with garage sales and car washes to help raise money for the adoption fees, which were about $2,000. The state helped cover that, but not up front, the couple said.
Rivera is 25 and works for an optical lab. Corioso is 38 and works for a company where she helps run training and orientation for several local McDonald’s restaurants.
It looked like the adoption costs were going to delay their plans to find a larger rental home to fit their growing family, but a friend set up an online fundraiser that brought in about $5,000.
The money made it possible for the family to move into a bigger house in July. Going from three to four bedrooms meant Evin, Corioso’s 17-year-old son, got his own room.
Corioso said the extra space has brought her 17-year-old closer with his new siblings.
He and Adrian like to play pickup basketball games together at a local church.
“Evin used to be our cousin, and now he’s turned into our brother,” Gabriel, who is now 10, explained.
Corioso said Evin’s setting a good example for the younger kids by planning to graduate high school this year and then studying physical therapy in college.
All the kids are on the right track in school, which Corioso credited in part to the new home.
“It’s really huge as far as their confidence, their motivation, their happiness,” Corioso said. “I think it helped to make them feel like we’re an actual family.”
Gabriel has been playing trumpet in band and said he’s getting good grades.
His recent report card was the best he’s ever achieved. Asked if he was proud of that, he said he was, and that his parents were, too.
“They were super-excited,” he said, joking that his hands burned from all the high-fives his family gave him.
Now he said he’s shooting for a perfect attendance award and even better grades.
“I think I’m actually going to get honor roll this year,” he said.
Gisselle is no stranger to the honor roll and recently finished volleyball season.
“I never give up,” she said about her skills on the court.
Adrian has also been keeping up in school and plans to play football in the Spring.
And Annaligh, the youngest, is excited that her moms are getting married.
The kids took Corioso’s last name, and in August, Rivera will, too. The family Christmas tree is in the wedding colors: purple and white.
Rivera said the four-year-old likes to remind her on the drive to day care: “Mommy, you’re going to wear a dress, and I’m going to have my white dress.”
Things weren’t as happy when the couple were first given the kids.
When the social worker called, the children basically just had the clothes on their backs. The house they’d been living in was trashed, there was drug paraphernalia inside and the kids had missed a lot of school.
The first night was a tough one.
Now it’s a relief to be done with the many appointments and social worker visits that come with the foster care system, the family said. With the adoption, they get to be a normal family, without interruptions.
There’s now time to work on relationships with other family members.
The kids’ biological father called recently and, under the terms of the adoption, their biological mother is able to visit once a year.
Corioso herself grew up in foster homes, and says because of that she wants the biological mother to be involved in their lives.
“It’s extremely important for me that they have a relationship with her,” she said.
Rivera and Corioso said they hope visits with the kids can happen more often if things continue to go well.
The couple said they want to thank everyone who has helped them.
Amy Teofilo was the friend who started the online fundraiser, and she was at the adoption day.
“It was such a happy moment,” Teofilo said. “The kids were so proud to be Coriosos.”
The couple said another friend, Amy Gutierrez, helped gather support for the family.
“It made them parents,” Gutierrez said about them taking in the children. “Four more kids, that changes everybody, I think.”
Most of the funds raised went to helping them get into the new house, and some went toward a new couch. Their old living room furniture had to be returned to help front the adoption fees.
And the little bit left over went to help with a down payment for their wedding venue.
“There’s food in the refrigerator, bills are paid, there are presents underneath the tree,” Corioso said.
Things are still tight from time to time. They went down to one car recently, until Corioso received a Christmas bonus that made getting another possible.
But for now they’re doing OK.
And most importantly, she said: “We have each other.”