Mother of International Twins
May 2023 Issue
by Mary Hope Roseneau
Photography (top) by Cassidy Dunn Photography
I knew Martha O’Regan had “twin” girls, but I never understood how exactly they could be since they were in different grades and looked so very different. (My mother always said don’t ask personal questions.) Well, now I know, and it is a mystical, magical, Mama Bear story like no other you’ve ever heard.
Martha and her husband Michael sadly lost three pregnancies back in the ‘90s and decided to adopt to get the baby they longed for. They filled out the arduous paperwork for a Chinese orphan and received an approval in early July of 1998. Four days later, guess what? Martha was pregnant again. Knowing this pregnancy might not be successful, as the other three had been, they decided to stay calm, and just see what happened. The pregnancy continued beautifully as they headed into the final trimester—the same time they received word that a baby girl would be available for pickup in China in April.
That was great news, but Martha’s baby was due at the same time!
They desperately wanted both babies by this point, and Michael agreed to go by himself to China and pick up the new member of their family, while Martha stayed in Beaufort to deliver the other baby. Can you imagine the stress level of this young couple? “Kudos to Mike” was Martha’s comment, and that is so true. He was a paramedic with Beaufort County EMS and with the help of Dr. Timothy Keane, a local pediatrician, he packed extra bags full of every type of medicine and accessories a newborn might need. Kudos to Dr. Keane, too!
A group of eight American couples were scheduled to pick up their babies at the same time, April 27, 1999, and all stayed in a hotel together the required eight days with their infants. Mike was the only single parent in the group which naturally created a lot of comments!
Meanwhile in South Carolina, Martha went into labor and delivered a baby girl. Remember this was before smart phones and FaceTime! Each parent had a new baby, but the other one was not able to see her until May 7, 1999, when they met up at the Savannah airport. Mike’s baby from China was named Sarah, and Martha’s baby was Emily.
Because of spending nine months lying in a crib, Sarah could not hold her head up, sit up, or do many of the typical things a baby that age is expected to do. However, she was up and running within three months and encouraged her newborn sister to do the same.
Today the girls are in their twenties and accomplished in their own, very different fields. Sarah decided in fifth grade she wanted her name to be her Chinese name, “Ting.” Martha, very wisely told her that was alright, but she could only change it one time!
Ting graduated from USC Upstate with a nursing degree, and now is a pediatric home nurse with Agape Hospice. She began her career during COVID in the ICU at Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital in Greenville (SC) and has now found her place working with parents and children dealing with serious illnesses. Her mom said, “She loves little people and felt this was a true calling.” Ting is engaged to be married and lives in Easley, SC. She has traveled to China and visited the orphanage where she was placed as an infant. She has attempted to find her birth mother with no success yet. She keeps in touch with several of the other baby girls— “adoptee sisters”—who all met their parents the same day in China, and they have had several get-togethers.
Emily is the spitting image of her mother, but she has taken an entirely different path from Ting. She graduated from Winthrop University with a BA degree in theatre performance and a minor in dance. She is a Meta Performer at Shadowbox Live in Columbus, Ohio. This company has been around for more than 30 years and is the largest resident theater ensemble in the country. The performers learn to do everything: sing; dance; act; do technical work behind the scenes; and even wait tables and serve drinks to the guests. The positions with this company are highly competitive, and Emily thrives on the camaraderie of her fellow performers. Her parents are happy that she found a career in the theater that pays a salary and offers benefits! She will be her sister’s Maid of Honor at the upcoming wedding.
The girls remain close despite the distance of their new homes. They were called “International Twins” growing up, and very wisely, their parents encouraged them to be themselves, and do what makes them happy.
Martha’s story as a licensed sea captain going into the healing arts profession is another article, we hope! Martha is a Licensed Massage Therapist and practices an energy technique known as “BEST,” which stands for BioEnergetic Synchronization Technique. More information can be found at www.marthaoregan.com.