The massive orphan train exodus whisked three-year-old Teresa from the safety of her New York orphanage, where the worst thing the Foundling nuns did was wash her curly black hair, to a desolate house and cold-hearted "parents" in Kansas. There, she entered a small and strange Volga German world whose inhabitants spoke a language she had never heard. In this odd world, she encountered whippings and sexual abuse.
Perhaps half a million children, like Teresa, were plucked from orphanages and shipped by rail (or "relocated") to nearly every state in the Union from 1854 to 1929. Mail-Order Kid looks at the orphan train movement through the eyes of one small child who yearns to know her "real" mother, survives a tortured childhood, and ultimately, as an adult, comes to terms with her past, her faith, and herself.