Tom Mullins is a successful executive. He's the President and CEO of both the "Tyler Economic Development Council" and the "Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce". He was also named 2005 Chairman of the Board of the "Texas Economic Development Council."
It's quite remarkable considering the first five years of his life were uncertain. His mother, abandoned by her husband, couldn't take care of him and he ended up in an Ireland orphanage. "Really when you think about it, for kids who have to go through adoption, the start of their lives is pretty chaotic," says Tom.
It was April, 1954. An American family adopted Tom. "Sometimes you feel like you're not the same as the other kids because you were adopted into the family and then the other way to look at it, which we were told a lot, was you were selected. You were special."
Tom grew up in Minnesota. His adopted dad died when he was in the 7th grade. In the years to come, he would learn a lot from his adoptive mother, who he calls his hero. Tom says, "She was a great role model."
His adopted mother was college educated and career driven. She was a teacher and principal. "So we always grew up knowing that you're going to work hard in school. You're going to complete school. You're going to go to college. You're going to get a degree and you're going to have a successful career. It's like that was just expected," explains Tom.
His adoptive mother died in her mid 80's but not before she saw Tom fulfill her wishes, even becoming recognized as one of the most effective Economic Development Executives in the nation.
Tom also found the love of his life and has been married 33 years. And, he started his own family. He has two children. A daughter who is 27 and about to have her first child and a 17 year old son.
Tom says, "More times than not, good things will happen if you just work at it."
And while Tom's life turned out better than he could have ever expected, he never forgets how it all began. He still has the first, and only, pair of shoes he was given in the orphanage. A reminder of where he's been and how his life is much different today.
"Our mother made a tough choice letting us go. So I'm sure she always felt badly about that but, it worked out for the best and she'd want to know that," says Tom with tears in his eyes.
Even 50 years later, it's emotional for Tom to talk about. But it's also a part of his life that made him stronger.
I asked Tom, "Would you change anything about your life if you could?" His reply, "No, I don't think so. It's worked out very well for me. I've been very lucky." Very lucky, thanks to the Give of Love.
But Tom's story doesn't end there. In 1990, he began searching for his past. Much to his surprise, he discovered he had two brothers and a sister. His sister died at the age of 17 but he was able to make contact with his brothers. After about 40 years of not even knowing they existed, he now has a relationship with both of them as well as aunts and cousins.
Gillian Sheridan reporting. firstname.lastname@example.org