TACOMA, Wash. - Stepping into the pens at Tacoma's Debbie Doolittle petting zoo is a little out of the ordinary for Tessa.
“I'm usually scared of animals, but it was really fun, petting them all,” said Tessa.
It's an odd mix of critters, from the world's largest rodents, to reptiles, to Tessa's favorite, the Fennec Fox.
Tessa is gentle and sweet, but she definitely likes to mix it up, on the mat. For the past couple of years, the 14-year-old has wrestled on her school's team. She's one of just three girls, so they have to wrestle boys.
“People usually think guys are stronger. It makes me happy to beat them,” she said.
And beat them she does. Her strategy is to go for the legs. When she wins, some boys don't know how to handle it, but she does.
Tessa is also a cheerleader for her school. She's a cool combination of tender yet tough, respectfully, but rowdy, and until she's comfortable around you, she is shy.
Tessa enjoys quiet time, in her own room, and would like to be adopted into a family that would not take offense to that, and a family that understands she's sensitive.
While Tessa wants a family to build a bond with she isn't one to easily let people into her deepest places.
Tessa's hurt goes back a long way, to January, 2010, and the Haiti earthquake.
She was about 6 years old, when she was separated from her parents. She didn't know if they survived. She was then taken to an orphanage, and an American family brought her to the U.S., where she is now in foster care.
Tessa is a survivor, a wrestler, a cheerleader, a music lover, and a book worm. And she's now ready to start a new chapter.
If you'd like to learn more about adopting Tessa, call Northwest Adoption Exchange at 1-800-927-9411.