Mail-Order Kid by Marilyn June Coffey


Mai- Order KidReviewed by Teri Davis

Naturally the hope was to be adopted by a loving family. The name for this movement was usually through by train. This became known as the orphan train.

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Like all children, some were fortunate and loved by their new families. However some of these children had horrific experiences, being beaten and even slaves to their adopted family. Probably most of these orphaned and unwanted children lived with families that were somewhere between these two extremes.

Teresa Martin was three-years-old when she became a passenger of the Orphan Train. Having lived in the orphanage for awhile, she never really knew the identity of her parents but relied on the nurturing nuns who had so far mothered her. They sent her away with the hopes of a better life. Although very young, she remembered many impressionable events from her life in the convent. These were her earliest memories, never knowing her parents but fond thoughts of loving nuns who favored, mothered and truly loved her.

Unfortunately for Teresa, she was assigned to a German family in Kansas. This petite, dark-haired, olive-skinned beauty did not easily fit into the life of two older adults who had grown children. She did not speak German and they did not speak English. Living with a different language and customs was difficult for Teresa who truly felt that she did not belong. Fortunately she befriended a German priest who nurtured her while also teaching her the language of her new life. Even though she lived in the U.S.A., English was not the preferred language of this town.

Teresa lived with this family who fed, sheltered and clothed her. However her new parents were not affectionate or loving. Their relationship was always strained which resulted in her being sexually abused and even whipped.

Later as an adult, Teresa frequently still felt isolated and unconnected resulting in her search for who were her parents. Who was she? What happened to her parents? Why?

Author Marilyn Coffey was relocating to Nebraska after spending thirty years in New York, She decided to become a speaker for the state humanities council but she needed a specialty, a unique topic. Someone mentioned the orphan trains and she immediately discounted the thought. Who would put orphans on trains and send them to unknown destinations?

Surprisingly as she began to research this topic, she was surprised to discover that more than half of these children actually were not orphans but had at least one parent with one quarter of them having both parents. So why?

Marilyn Coffey was hooked. The topic was fascinating. She searched for an actual orphan train survivor but most were elderly or deceased. While lecturing about the orphan train, she received a letter from an actual orphan train rider who asked about why she had no first hand experiences.

This led to an unusual friendship that became this biography.

Mail-Order Kid is the product of this phenomenal friendship allowing the readers to become a part of this historical and memorable experience combining Teresa’s life story with Marilyn’s writing gifts.

This collaboration is an enthralling biography capturing the past into a loving and reflective novel between Marilyn Coffey and Teresa Martin.

This book is for everyone to read, reflect, learn, and enjoy.


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