Liza Dacian found a fulfilling career as a nurse at NYU Langone Hospital. It’s also where she met her partner, Alex.
The couple, who were emergency room nurses at the time, met in 2008 and began dating after three years of friendship. They eventually moved into new roles – Liza as a nurse case manager and Alex as a cardiac catherization nurse – and have grown their family.
Liza and Alex always knew they would become parents. Liza was mostly raised by her grandparents and wanted to create a stable home for her children – something she said she lacked growing up. Alex was an only child who was raised by both his parents and grandparents in Russia.
“I had quite a difficult childhood,” she said. “Alex always wanted to be a dad because he had a very happy childhood. So the idea of why we wanted to be parents was the opposite.”
Their initial plan was to have children of their own and then eventually expand their family through adoption. But after struggling to conceive, Liza and Alex reached out to Children’s Aid to begin the adoption process. They met with our placement services team, who encouraged them to foster a child.
“I was very lucky the first person I spoke with was Denise Eugene,” Liza said. “She was very knowledgeable about the whole process. She seemed very encouraging.”
On July 30, 2020, Liza and Alex welcomed Nova to their Staten Island home. She was six days old. Liza felt a mix of emotions – excitement, anticipation, and fear. She also felt reassured since many of her close friends were mothers. Alex’s parents, who live with the couple, were another crucial support system. They were able to help raise Nova and allow Liza and Alex to go back to work.
“It’s exciting – you have a baby in the home. But it’s scary. I literally had to learn everything from scratch,” she said. “I have a large group of friends who were very, very supportive and were always willing to assist whenever I needed anything. I would get a phone call from them every day.”
Three years later, the temporary foster placement turned into an opportunity to adopt Nova. On Sept. 6, 2023, the Dacian’s were joined by Social Work Supervisor Denise Eugene and Nova’s grandfather and stepmother to make the adoption official.
Nova, who is currently attending a 3K program, speaks English and Russian and is learning Mandarin in school. According to Liza, she is “full of personality.”
“She’s very outspoken, and she’s not shy at all,” she said. “She’s very strong minded, but she’s also very sweet. She loves animals.”
Her love of animals was nurtured by Liza and Alex, who have two Chihuahuas – Rocko, 9, and Rambo, 7. Many friends suggested they get rid of the dogs before welcoming Nova into their home. But the couple knew they had to find a way for everyone to safely co-exist. Now, Nova loves her dogs and even accompanies Liza, who volunteers for a neighborhood cat group, to feed cats at a nearby cat colony.
With Alex, Nova spends much of her time outdoors at local parks and also visits Branch Brook Park in New Jersey every year to see the cherry blossoms.
“Alex is big into going to the park even if it’s winter,” she said. “He’s Russian, so he’s used to going outdoors in the middle of snow. I’m Filipino. As soon as I feel anything, I’m like nope, it’s too cold.”
While the adoption process took more than three years, Liza believes being a mother is the most important job she’s ever had.
“It’s the most important job you can do – to be a parent. You can see how they blossom and grow,” she said. “Everything they learn from you, it’s such a rewarding thing when they’re learning to speak, learning to write. You can see Nova has so much compassion for animals. Having Nova gave me that opportunity to live the kind of childhood that I wanted for myself.