Gift of Love: 3 Tyler Leaders Share Adoption Story
Tom Mullins is a successful executive. He's the CEO and President of both the Tyler Economic Development Council and the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce".
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. He ended up in an Ireland orphanage.
"Really when you think about it kids who have to go through adoption, the start of their lives is pretty chaotic," says Tom.
It was April, 1954 when 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."
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.
In 1968, another little boy is born. This one of a young girl, still in high school. "She got to see me for a very short time before they took me away," says Joel Baker.
This tiny baby was put up for adoption for $900. He would be called, Joel Baker. "It is just a real blessing that my parents wanted me and brought me to live here in Tyler," says Joel.
Joel would became a successful lawyer and in 2006 elected Smith County Judge. But as the years went on, he felt something was missing. He wanted to find his biological parents. So, he began his search.
"I sent out some letters. One of the letters ended up on the desk of my birth mothers best friend and that really started things rolling."
In 1989, Joel met his biological mother, Karen. He discovered a striking resemblance to Brenda, his adoptive mother. A short time later he met his biological dad, Rob.
Joel says, "It felt like I had finally discovered the missing pieces that I wanted to learn about and they're a wonderful family."
But Joel remains grateful to the couple who ultimately gave him the chance at a fulfilling life, CC and Brenda Baker. "I love them and I thank them so much for the blessings they have given me in my life."
Turning back to Ireland to another orphanage, there is another little baby. A red haired, blue eyed boy placed in an Ireland orphanage. He lay in a metal crib waiting for someone to love him. He would soon find an American family willing to raise him as their own. They would call him Robert James Peltier.
"I remember at 6 or 7 when my parents said that your mother loved you so much that she knew she couldn't take care of you so she gave you to us," says Robert.
Robert believes God had a plan for him, blessing him with a family who believed in him. "They were just really good parents. Solid core so no matter how people tried to shake me, or shape me, it was because of these parents. They instilled such character and leadership that I'm just so proud of them," says Robert.
Robert became a successful businessman, starting up his own auto dealership and winning several awards. He is now living the American dream, thanks to two strangers, who gave him the encouragement to succeed. "I wouldn't be where I am without them. I love them. They're the best."
Tom, Joel and Robert, three very different lives all changed by receiving the Gift of Love. Robert sums it up, "There just isn't enough you can do to thank them for giving you a whole life."
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