by Nancy Terrell
It doesn’t take long to fall in love. I remember meeting with our social worker in July of 2006 to sign final paperwork just before we would meet our daughter for the first time. William, my husband, asked about health concerns, and what our options were if there were anything inherited. We had been waiting years for this day and his question caught me off-guard. After further discussion and understanding this concern, we concluded the paperwork.
Car seat in tow, we headed over to the foster family’s home to meet our sweet girl. She looked nothing like us; already 2 weeks-old, she was a beautiful baby girl with dark hair and olive skin. We took her home to meet the rest of the family, TW and Tasha, our 100 pound plus German Shepherds. I was most nervous for this introduction. They gave her the sniff test and nudged her a little. It didn’t take long before she was part of the pack. We figured out her schedule… bottle, sleep, diaper, repeat. Natasha was a happy baby and we melted with every smile she gave us. We were smitten since day one and would see her through this life journey in sickness and in health. Together with loving Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and cousins, we welcomed Natasha into our family.
It would be May the 4th, 2007, when our family became official. It is easy for us to remember, since it coincides with Star Wars day. Natasha, always excited about adoption day, would let her friends and teachers know when it arrived. One month later, Natasha was baptized and we celebrated God’s blessing as well.
William used to put Natasha in the baby carrier to sing and dance with her around the room. Not far away, I would listen with a joyful tear in my eye. Their favorite song was “I Can’t Smile Without You” by Barry Manilow. It was fitting: “You came along, just like a song and brightened my day.” Years later, when Natasha was 10, they sang that song as a duet together for the City of La Quinta’s talent show. Natasha discovered early that she had a love for music and a talent for singing.
The hardest part of loving someone so much is the worry. There were all-nighters, usually due to an earache, teething, a tummy ache or worse, a fever. When Natasha was around four, she started having night terrors. I’d never heard of them before. She seemed to be dreaming out loud, fearful and tearful. It was a scary 30 minutes or so until she calmed down. Afterward, we would let her stay in our room with a comforting show or movie to help her fall back asleep. This went on for years and we tried to find answers without much help. I read books to try and understand. I even wrote a children’s story, “Monsters for Tea, “where in the story, the “monsters” – aka night terrors – would go away. Eventually they did go away when Natasha was about 10. No one could have prepared us for all the ups and downs of parenting. But the joys far outweigh the lows.
As I mentioned, Natasha had an early love for music. She started piano lessons at age five. In elementary school, she had a positive, supportive choir director who encouraged her singing then and for many years to come. She sang her first solo at age 7. It was “Tomorrow,” from Annie, and she would go on to sing many solos after that. At the age of 12, Natasha won a talent show competition through the Boys & Girls Club. This led to an invitation to sing with a professional youth band, “Heatwave Show Band,” performing at many local and corporate events, plus some that took them to Las Vegas. She also participated in the Academy of Musical Performance, a local youth music program (band camp style). She has performed at the McCallum Theatre, The Rock Yard, Tamale Festival and more. Most recently she sang the National Anthem at the new Acrisure Arena to a crowd of thousands. I am still amazed to see our quiet girl have such a beautiful presence on stage.
I sometimes wonder what part is “nature versus nurture.” Natasha is kind and despite a little shyness, she makes friends easily. She has always been a good kid and self-motivated to do well in school. The little attitude she has, she saves for us at home. We are so blessed for this beautiful, talented young lady that has grown up before our eyes. Natasha will be graduating high-school this school year (2024) with honors and is in the top 5% of her graduating class. College applications are going out and next year she’ll be away at college pursuing her dream of music (insert tears). We couldn’t be more proud and so grateful to Holy Family Services for entrusting us and placing this beautiful girl into our arms.