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REAL PEOPLE: Family’s personal adoption story worth sharing
Growing up, Sharilyn Martin knew a story of adoption and acceptance.
Her Aunt Mary was adopted by an American family following the Korean War. She was what was called a “GI baby,” one born to a Korean mother who did not fit in with other Koreans because of her brown hair and round face. Her father was an American soldier who had told her mother he would return but never did. When Mary was 5, she remembers flying across the ocean and meeting her new family — her birth mother had chosen to put her up for adoption in hopes that she would find a better life across the Pacific.
“It was just a story we knew about Aunt Mary,” Martin recalled last week.
When Mary was 6, she had a transforming experience on the coast. Holding her new parents’ hands, she realized she was loved and accepted — and she knew God was taking care of her, too.
“To me it’s been a really special story,” Martin says.
Her special story has now been transformed into a children’s book, illustrated by Diane Horst.
International adoption, though uncommon before the 1950s, was familiar to Martin’s family.
“I always grew up wanting to do that,” Martin, a Cove resident, said.
And she did. Two of her five children are adopted — one from Russia and the other from Belize.
“I just think God has a plan for all these children,” Martin says.
Conrad, Martin’s 6-year-old son from Belize, smiles as he points to a family portrait. The calmness of the Martin home shows Sharilyn that the lengthy and difficult process of international adoption was worth it.
“I feel fortunate. It’s a gift we’ve been given,” she says.
Her children’s book, “The Night the Angel Came,” is a story all children can relate to, though, Martin says.
“Children have a lot of fears,” Martin said. Aunt Mary, though, provided a platform for sharing about that alleviation of fear. “Her story was unique. God cared enough to take away her fears. I thought that was something worth conveying.”
Adopting Conrad from Belize was by no means an easy process. At one point, Sharilyn and her husband, James, were not sure if they would be able to take Conrad back to the United States with them because of difficulty getting paperwork in order.
“Until you hear them stamp the passport, you don’t know if you’re going to go,” she said.
And that was the second time around.
When adopting now-13-year-old Danny from Russia, the family took two trips across the ocean and ran into numerous roadblocks. Just before one visit, they were told the baby they had been considering was no longer available. They were welcome to come, but would basically be traveling blind.
They opted to go.
“It felt pretty scary,” Martin said.
After visiting different regions, James Martin’s heart melted when they met Danny.
“We pretty much agreed this was meant to be,” Sharilyn says. “Looking back it was all a good experience.”
Martin said she feels blessed to be able to share such a personal story through her writing, especially if it raises awareness of the need so many children have around the world.
The Martins have no plans at the moment to expand their family, but encourage those who have a heart for adoption to consider it.
“It’s not an easy path,” she says. “It has to be a personal decision.”