Randy and Teresa Grimes with their children and grandchildren in Cumming, GA
“Red and yellow, black and white. They are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.” In a world that’s upside down, turned around, full of hurt and loss hearing these words and humming the melody is a haunting reminder that we’re doing something wrong. The world isn’t meant for division and racial bias.
Randy and Teresa Grimes heard the words ‘Red and yellow, black and white’ and hummed the tune until the inertia of it all demanded an answer to God’s calling and each replied, “Here am I, send me.” Isaiah 6:8.
This is a love story. A true love story between two high school students that met, fell in love, pursued careers, birthed children, and offered one of the greatest gifts to another human being...a home.
Both Randy and Teresa are graduates of Paducah Tilghman High School. If you don’t know their story, it’s time to catch up.
Randy Grimes and Teresa started ‘talking’ at a football game. Grimes was a senior football player and Teresa was a high school junior cheerleader. Fate had its sights on two kids at the same place, same time, same sports program, and same high school choir. “Our first date was at a sorority Christmas Dance on December 18, 1980,” recalls Grimes. After that date, the two were inseparable.
After graduation, Grimes received a full football scholarship to Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky majoring in biology with career plans to teach and coach. Since Teresa was a year behind Grimes in school, she fast-tracked her education and graduated a semester early to join Grimes at WKU on an academic scholarship. Again, smart, athletic, ‘glee club’ couple entering the college scene with big plans ahead.
Neither Grimes’ could wait until graduation to say their forever vowels. They united in marriage on December 30, 1983 just three years shy of their first date. “We were still in college when we got married and thought that love paid the bills.” Grimes said. “We were so poor, we were each other’s entertainment. And to this day, we still entertain one another.”
Teresa pursued a career in Broadcast Journalism while Grimes pursued a career in teaching and coaching. After graduation, Teresa started working at a Bowling Green radio station and later was offered a job in marketing at the local hospital. While Teresa continued her career trajectory, Grimes received the opportunity of a lifetime, to assist former coach and mentor Dan Haley.
Haley played football at the University of Kentucky and coached for Paducah Tilghman from 1973 to 1980. Grimes played for Coach Haley during his sophomore and junior year at Tilghman. In 1984, Haley became head coach at Bowling Green High School. After Grimes graduated college, he coached alongside Haley for five years.
Here’s where ‘the dream’ shifts into fifth gear. Opportunity knocked and Grimes earned his first head coaching job and moved the family to Hancock County in Kentucky. Teresa took a job at the Owensboro Hospital as marketing director. During this move, the Grimes have their first two children, Chris and Derek, born in 1985 and 1989, respectively. It was this stint in Hancock County that changed the Grimes’ lives forever.
The couple have two perfect boys and it was time to complete the family. The Grimes’ were ready for a girl. “Teresa had a lot of difficulties with the two pregnancies and was advised by medical professionals to have no more children.” said Grimes. They always wanted three children, at least that was the plan. Grimes said, “We didn’t start adopting for very deep or spiritual reasons.” The simple truth is the couple wanted another baby.
They found an organization in Owensboro that worked with a Korean adoption agency. From start to finish, the adoption process took eleven months. Their daughter was born in Seoul, Korea and made her way to the U.S. at four months old. Today, Erica is 30 years old and recently married Cris from El Salvador.
While the Grimes were going through adoption care, they started fostering children. “This opened our eyes and our hearts to what God was leading us to do.” said Grimes.
Once the Grimes began adopting, each child was an added blessing to their family. The children are Chris, Derek, Erica, Marcus 18, Ian 16, Noah 15, Teairra 14, Jeremiah 13, Isaiah 12, Alexa 10, and Isaac 9. If you're counting, that’s 11 children. The oldest son is married to Lezlie and Derek is married to Chelsea. In addition to 11 children, they have three grandchildren, two of which are adopted.
The Grimes have been ministering to other families that hoped to adopt children for 25 years. Teresa has never worked for an adoption agency but has helped hundreds of U.S. families adopt children from around the world. Grimes said, “She’s an adoption expert”. Part of their ministry includes helping churches start adoption and foster care ministries. Grimes affectionately expressed his thoughts about Teresa’s work. He said, “Her heart “for the least of these (Matthew 25:40, James 1:27)” never tires’.
From 1992 to 1997, Grimes spent five years in Paducah as head coach for the Lone Oak Purple Flash. The next move transferred the family to Cumming, Georgia. Grimes switched careers and worked in the pharmaceutical industry and the family has remained in Georgia for the last 20 years.
For a period of time, Grimes was in pharmaceutical management but in 2003, decided to get back in the field and work as a pharmaceutical representative. As time permitted, the family became increasingly involved in church and adopting more children.
Grimes said, “Having a biracial family isn’t tough. The looks and stares don’t necessarily come from the ‘different’ kids but what are these ‘different’ kids doing with these old white people.” The looks lead to discussions with strangers about love for others and the great need for adoption and foster care. Grimes admitted that the ‘tough stuff’ comes from the needs of the children.
Social, academic, and medical issues are the challenges. Conversations involve appropriate behavior and inappropriate behavior. Also, academic struggles experienced by a few of the children. “Three of the children could barely read or write and weren’t doing grade level work,” said Grimes. And some have major health issues with extensive out-of-pocket costs.
Dinner time is interesting at the Grimes’ household. “We go to the kitchen in shifts to fill plates.” said Grimes. The typical grocery bill is $400 a week and that’s keeping cost at less than four dollars a meal per person. Most of the children share bedrooms. The Grimes have converted a den into sleeping quarters for the two middle school boys. The three oldest boys share a bedroom. The two youngest share a room and sleep in bunk beds and their oldest daughter has a room to herself.
It may cross your mind, how do they keep the love alive? Grimes said, “We love to date. We love to get a cup of coffee together or go to dinner. We truly are lovers and best friends.” The couple try to take a vacation once a year for some one-on-one time.
Less than a year ago, Grimes left corporate America to return to the classroom teaching teenage students. He said, “I’ve coached for 36 years and it’s always been near and dear to my heart but for the first time, I’m not coaching. I’m just being a dad.”
Just as Grimes switched careers, COVID-19 shuttered America. The family has coped by keeping consistent routines. Taking short day trips, watching sports, and having Bible study has helped fill the days. Bedtimes remained intact as well as mealtime and chores. Now, they’re back in school. Grimes said, “They’ve missed their friends.”
One might wonder the secret to managing a large household and maintaining sanity. Grimes said, ‘“They watch me and Teresa and see how we treat one another.” he continued, “The best advice I can give is to remember your kids are always watching how you treat each other.”
Grimes said he didn’t graduate from a seminary but has taken classes. His work is more of a calling. “We use the adoption ministry to share the gospel.” In 2004, the Grimes planted a church and ministered for eleven years. In 2015, the children’s needs demanded greater attention and a decision was made to end the full time ministry.
Since the coronavirus, Grimes has been sharing the gospel Sunday mornings online. He tries to reach those whose churches are closed or folks that are older and don’t want to go back to in-person meetings. Also, he fills in for pastors when they’re on vacation or are unavailable.
The family makes it home to Paducah a few times a year. Grimes said Teresa will go back with a few kids a couple of times a year and he does the same. He said his parents and Teresa’s mother are older. “Facetime is amazing,” said Grimes.
“God has given Teresa and I a clear calling for our lives. We are asked often, are you done adopting? I used to say yes, and then God placed more in our life. We love to laugh at our crazy life because most don't understand. But to wake up each and every day and say as Isaiah said in Isaiah 6:8 ``Here am I, send me.” Grimes said that he doesn’t know what tomorrow holds but is excited to see God’s plan.