New York couple adopts late best friend's four daughters

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015
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Shirleen Allicot has the story

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Keeping their word at a time when one family really needed their help the most, an upstate New York couple is fulfilling their promise to a dying friend by adopting her four young daughters.

"She said if anything ever happens to me, I want you to take my girls," Laura Riffino said. "And I instantly said OK."

It was a promise made between friends, and one that would ultimately bring two families together.

"So Liz and I met in fifth grade at a small Christian school in West Seneca," Laura said.

And from there, a lifelong friendship was born.

"No matter where we were, we just had fun," she said.

But in August of 2014, the fun came to a heart-wrenching end. Elizabeth Diamond received a tragic diagnoses of stage four brain cancer.

"As she started to weaken, you can imagine the emotions and the fears that I had for the girls and being without her," Laura said.

In April of this year, Laura's fear became a reality. Liz lost her battle, and in keeping her promise to her best friend, Laura and her husband Rico opened their hearts and their Orchard Park home, doubling the size of their family.

"Ten years ago, I didn't think this would be my life," Rico said. "But it is. Something gets thrown at you, you just accept the challenge and do the best you can."

The Ruffinos say the integrated family is tackling their new lifestyle head on. Their four new additions -- Lily, Ella, Samona and Tara, ages 5 to 12 -- stay busy with activities and outings.

And with a bigger group, the family has had to adjust to a bigger kitchen table and a bigger fridge, both of which were donated, and soon, an addition to the house that will add more bedrooms and a place to display Liz's art work.

"When I sit back and I think about it, it's hard to think about," Laura said. "It's even still shocking to me that this is a really big thing. But to us, it's just our life."