Cari and Rodney started their journey shortly after marrying in 2005. Unable to have children of their own, the couple first adopted Josh, one of Rodney's cousins. Josh needed somewhere to live and moved in with Cari and Rodney right before his 5th birthday. In 2009, their family expanded when they were granted legal custody of six-month-old Tyler. "Before we started fostering, it was just me, Rodney, Josh and Tyler," explains Cari. "Josh and Tyler were newly diagnosed with Autism and we decided to try and have one more child."
At that point, Cari and Rodney began to research foster care and began working with Mercer County Children and Youth Services. They had a child placed in their home only weeks later. Within three months, they already had three additional children in and out of their home. "We just more than anything wanted children and this was the route we decided to take," said Cari. "When we started, we just knew it was right."
The Preziosos were referred to Family Services of NW PA to receive Child Preparation Services during the process of adopting Levi. Child Preparation Services are offered to help children better understand and process their permanency journey. The caseworker meets with the child twice a month and addresses five goals: honor the child's past, answer questions, give the child a voice, create connections, and look to the future.
Levi came from a home of abuse and neglect where both parents passed away suddenly. Before meeting Cari and Rodney, Levi did not know how to play like a kid and was unable to spend more than a few hours in school due to his aggressive behaviors. Throughout the entire process, Cari and Rodney worked to help Levi process and cope with the grief of his parents' death. "After just a few months in the home, Levi was almost completely off all his medications," explained Anna Shoaf, the Family Services of NW PA Caseworker assigned to work with the Prezioso's. "He is now in first grade in a regular classroom."