( Intermediate level )
Isabella always stood at the fence and wondered, “Why not me?.” The other, much younger children, would find their forever homes, but not her. She would stand, for hours, waiting for someone to look at her and pick her.
Isabella has lived at the orphanage for close to two years now. Her mom was a single mom who, routinely, found herself in trouble with the law.
The court system, finally, had taken Isabella away from this dangerous situation, severed parental rights, and placed her in the orphanage.
Normally, the courts would place a child with a relative. In Isabella’s case, she only had her elderly grandparents. This would not be an ideal situation as growing children are so active.
Now, at six years old, Isabella had understood a lot of things. Miss Emma, the head of the orphanage, would tell her that, “Mommy had sent you to live here. She knew you would be safe and have plenty of friends.”
“One day, when you get much older, you may see your mommy again.” Miss Emma knew, in the back of her mind, there may be a chance that Isabella’s mom would try to find her, once Isabella reached adulthood. Until then, her mom was ordered by the courts not to contact Isabella.
Isabella was quite fond of Miss Emma. She would spend much of her day following her around. Emma would tell Isabella she was her little shadow.
It hadn’t been long ago that Isabella realized the orphanage belonged to Miss Emma. The Desert Rose Orphanage, was founded about eight years ago by her.
She named it after the rose – shaped crystal rocks found scattered throughout the desert. She felt the crystals were like the children, beautiful, unique, and resilient to life. Each is different from the other but still, needs a place to show their beauty and grow.
Miss Emma never married nor had children. Having the orphanage was her way of having children in her life. She mentioned to Isabella,” Every child needs to feel loved and wanted. I can provide this. They will have food, a warm bed, and plenty of love.”
Isabella asked Miss Emma, “Why do the younger kids get their forever homes and some, like me, get overlooked?” Miss Emma quickly responded, “The older children will get very special forever homes with very special mommies and daddies.“
“You are not overlooked. It just takes a little longer to find that perfect match. Have patience, little one. Good things come to those who wait.” She smiled at Isabella. “Now, you run off and play. Lunch will be in an hour.”
As Isabella ran off to play, Miss Emma thought to herself, “That Isabella is such a curious one. She will make a childless couple very happy, one day.”
The school will be starting in just about a month. With twelve children at the orphanage, Miss Emma had a lot of preparation ahead. A few new children had arrived and a few were at school age, including Isabella.
She worked on a limited budget consisting of donations. Some of the community members would donate backpacks, paper, pencils, and crayons. She would need to get school clothes for a few of them, mend the ones she could and worry about shoes.
The boys seemed to grow faster than the girls and usually outgrew everything so quickly. Many of the merchants in town usually gave her a discount knowing she could afford much.
Whenever Miss Emma traveled into town one of the town’s women would come and stay at the orphanage for a few hours. This allowed her to go into town once or twice a month to buy the needed things. She had made arrangements to have someone come on Saturday. This would free her to go shopping for school items for her children.
On this particular day, Isabella wanted to tag along with her to town. Miss Emma didn’t mind and told her she could come as long as she behaved. She didn’t have to remind Isabella to be good. She was always a wonderful companion and remembered her manners.
They arrived at the discount store where you could buy anything from furniture to clothing to tools. They headed right to the clothing section.
Right away, Isabella spotted a red dress with ruffles around the waist. She saw tiny pearls sewn around the collar and a huge lace bow on the back.
Isabella brushed her hand along the ruffles and thought this was so beautiful. She looked up to see Miss Emma looking at her with a smile on her face, “This is a dress for a princess, isn’t it, Miss Emma?”
” You, Isabella, are the perfect little princess for that dress but you know we are here for school clothes. We have to focus on this task.” She saw the disappointment on Isabella’s face.
Isabella, soon, became interested in talking to the shopkeeper’s daughter that she had forgotten about the princess dress. Miss Emma wished she had the extra to buy this dress for Isabella.
All the children had enough clothes to start school now. Miss Emma had enough left, after buying clothes, for one pair of shoes. Of course, she thought of Johnny. He was in dire need of new shoes. The sole of his left shoe had worn so thin that tiny rocks made their way inside the shoe.
The school year began without any issues. Isabella would come home every day telling Miss Emma what she had learned. Each of the children, also, vied for her attention. Everyone wanted to tell her what they did at school.
It usually took her thirty minutes or more to settle them down so they could eat dinner. With twelve children to feed, some needing help with homework and baths, the night had just begun for Miss Emma.
As Miss Emma brushed Isabella’s hair out after her bath she asked Isabella, ” You were quiet tonight at dinner. Is something bothering you?”
Isabella sat quietly for a moment and said, “Janie said today that she and her mom are going on a trip this weekend to see her grandma. She is always telling the class what she and her mom do”
Miss Emma had stopped brushing Isabella’s hair and continued listening,” I wish I had a mommy to do special things with me too.”
Miss Emma just smiled and said, ” Remember, good things come to those who wait. One day, when you least expect it, you will have what you always dreamed of .” She tucked Isabella into bed and kissed her good night. She turned off the light and told her,” Good night my little one.“
The school year continued. The children were enjoying seeing their teachers and the other children. Miss Emma kept hearing those words, “I wish I had a mommy too….”
Thanksgiving had come and gone. Many members of the community provided special holiday dishes to the orphanage. The children had eaten so much food.
Now the children were looking forward to Christmas and most of all school break. Three wonderful weeks to enjoy playing and no homework!
Emma never went overboard, on Christmas, for the children. There would be plenty of gifts from the community but she always wanted them to have something very special from just her.
Emma had picked out her Christmas presents for each of the children except for Isabella. She had a difficult time deciding what to get her. As fond as Isabella was of her, Miss Emma, too, loved this little one. She, definitely, held a special place in her heart.
A multitude of donated presents was dropped off at the orphanage and placed underneath the Christmas tree. The children checked for their names on all the boxes. Squealing each time, “This one has my name on it!”
One name was not there on any of the gifts. Isabella’s name. She had noticed this but she hadn’t said a word to anyone, not even to Miss Emma. She knew she was a good girl and Santa would surely know this. She remembered Santa only had gifts for the good little boys and girls.
Christmas morning finally came and the children were up earlier than usual. Anticipation in the air was high. Each wants to open their presents and play with the new toys.
Miss Emma woke to the children’s giggles at her bedroom door. “It is time to get up! It’s time for us to open our gifts!” Miss Emma smiled and told them,” I will be there in a moment.”
Emma got up and washed her face and brushed her hair. She tightened the belt of her robe and walked to the closet. Inside her closet was a box wrapped in bright red paper and a white bow on top. Inside was the princess dress Isabella had fallen in love with.
She placed the box on her bed and went to her dresser. She pulled out a white business envelope that had Isabella’s name on it. She placed this envelope on the gift and smiled. She turned and walked downstairs.
Miss Emma saw the children sitting around the Christmas tree. Their eyes looked at the gifts and then to her. “Go ahead, open your gifts,” she said. In an instant, the children ripped off the bows and papers. Laughter filled the room.
Isabella shared in the excitement. Watching the others open their gifts. They still had no idea there wasn’t a present for her under the tree.
After the morning’s excitement, the children headed to the kitchen where Miss Emma prepared oatmeal with blueberries and a sprinkling of brown sugar on top.
The children were eating as fast as they could. Each wants to get back to playing with their new toys. Miss Emma looked around the table. Looking at all the huge smiles of the children until she saw Isabella.
She was quietly eating. Staring into her bowl of oatmeal. She wasn’t sharing in the excitement of the others now. She was lost in her own thoughts.
Miss Emma cleared her voice, “Isabella could you do me a favor? Seems I forgot my reading glasses upstairs in the bedroom. Can you go get them for me? I have to read all these Christmas cards from our friends and neighbors,” She pointed to the pile of cards on the counter.
Isabella pushed her chair away from the table and headed to Miss Emma’s bedroom. A few moments later, Miss Emma followed. She wanted Isabella to arrive in her bedroom and discover the present and envelope on her bed.
When she arrived at her door she saw Isabella staring at the paper from the envelope. Isabella didn’t understand everything that was written on the paper but she saw the word adoption and saw Miss Emma’s name.
Miss Emma stood quietly for a moment then walked towards her. “Well my little one, would you want me to be your forever mommy and this is your forever home”?
Isabella turned and hugged Miss Emma. Tears ran down both of her cheeks. The community had helped Emma with recommendation letters, a lawyer, and money for filing fees for the adoption of Isabella.
The beautiful wrapped present with the huge white bow was left untouched. Isabella felt she had received the best gift of all. Someone to call mommy and a forever home. “Good things do come to those who wait,” as Miss Emma always told her.
Written by: Angel
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orphanage – noun: a home for orphaned children
parental rights – adjective: refers to parents’ rights and responsibilities
elderly – adjective: old or aging
in the back of her mind – idiom: part of one’s mind, thoughts and memories are kept but that are not thought about
fond – adjective: affection or liking
founded – verb: established
resilient – adjective: withstand or recover quickly
overlooked – verb: fail to notice something or someone
childless– adjective: not having children
consisting – verb: be made up of
mend – verb: repair
tag along – phrasal verb: follow another’s lead
discount – noun: a decrease from the usual cost
ruffles – noun: a strip of lace gathered along one edge of a garment
dire – adjective: serious or urgent
vied – verb: compete with someone
overboard – verb: to do something excessive
multitude – noun: large numbers
squealing – verb: make a long, high-pitched noise
anticipation in the air – collocation: excitement about something
giggles – verb: laugh in a silly manner
dresser – noun: chest of drawers for the bedroom
adoption – noun: the act of taking a child as your own
untouched – adjective: not used or touched
Are there any orphanages’ in your city?
Have you donated any old or unused clothing?