‘This is weird, but I feel like I know you.’ My heart dropped. ‘Were you adopted?’ Yes. ‘How old are you?’ 40. ‘I gave birth to a child 40 years ago.’: Woman gives son up for adoption, runs into him 40 years later at supermarket

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“I was never a believer in miracles. Growing up, my sister and mother would always hail to some higher power, whether it be god or some unearthly force beyond human understanding, whenever some minuscule facet of life went remotely their way. It could’ve been something as simple as a clear sky on the day of a planned event, an extension on a school project, remembering to take out the trash just in time for the garbage truck so it didn’t have to sit in the backyard, rotting another week, sending welcoming waves of stench to eager animals. You name it and, sure enough, it was deemed a ‘miracle’.

I was the odd ball out that always silently scoffed at the thought of this. For me, the notion that the world was random chaos, and everything in it unorchestrated coincidence, gave me comfort. It’s just what made the most sense to me. Religion was shoved down my throat and, out of respect for my family, I simply went along with it. But I always consumed it with an open ear, a doubtful, questioning eye.

It’s clear to me now that something is out there. Be it a god or a force, who knows. But I do know now that there is meaning in life. Something greater than just you and me.

When I was 25 years old, my birth control failed. I wasn’t ready to be a mother, hence the preventive pregnancy measures. I didn’t have the money, the life, the mental health, or maturity to give life to another precious little being. Having children at the right time meant a lot to me. I wanted to be able to give them the world and more. I was too scared to get an abortion and had been guilted out of this decision. So, I went off the grid and gave birth to a healthy baby boy. I didn’t tell my family about it out of fear of judgement. They thought I was taking time away to travel and discover myself. It was my little secret.

After giving birth, my child was given up for adoption, as I had planned many months before. I didn’t care to know about the adoptive family. I didn’t even know what they named him. Any detail was like a knife digging an inch deeper, so I asked for none. I couldn’t handle the wounds. The guilt was unbearable. But I knew it was better off this way and the best decision for me at the time.

Fast forward nearly 40 years later. I’m a woman, divorced. No children. This time around it wasn’t a choice. I wanted children very badly for over three decades, but could no longer stomach the pain of miscarriage, physical and emotional. I couldn’t handle one more trial of waking suddenly to a pool of blood, one more emergency trip to the hospital to be reminded again and again and again that yes this was a confirmed miscarriage. So, I closed that chapter for good and never looked back, like I’d done with my secret labor. I couldn’t help but think this was some sort of bad karma.

So, I focused on being a sister, an aunt, a daughter, a strong woman. I focused on loving and strengthening my body, pouring my heart into my work, spreading kindness. And I truly did feel happiness deep to my core. But there was always something missing in my life. It was like no matter how hard I loved, fought, laughed, the sun shone down on me, there was this ever-emerging sadness. This depression that poked its stupid head through the clouds to remind me of this pit deep within me.

But that’s all changed now.

When I moved out to Calabasas, I was happy for a change of scenery. Despite the beautiful memories, I was about done with the black clouds and never-ending downpours of Portland. I didn’t know that along with the sunny California sun, something else was about to light up my skies, my world. Fill that aching hole within my chest.

I was out one regular morning for my Sunday shop. I wheeled into the grocery store with my cart, as usual, and began throwing in some fresh produce, squash, zucchini, fresh herbs, nuts, and berries. I’m a quick shopper, the type to bring a list every time (even if I always get the same things). I like to get in and get out as fast as I can. Heading over to the condiment’s aisle, I turned my cart over a corner, a sharp left, and smashed into a man. He was over six feet tall and wearing his uniform.

He was restocking the shelves and I knocked the boxes right out of his hands. ‘I am SO SORRY,’ I said, rushing to the ground to frantically pick up the items. ‘Don’t worry, ma’am. I got it,’ he said, smiling. It was a split-second interaction, but one I’ll never forget.

I went home that day in the strangest of moods. I felt like my brain was trying to tell me something but couldn’t get over the cloudy fog hovering over it. Grocery bags on the table, unpacked, I sat and contemplated at my dining room table. I kept thinking about the man in the store. His smile. Not in a romantic way, but in a bizarre, uncontrollable, heart-tugging, soul-quaking kind of way. I felt like I had known him before, seen him in a past life. Or maybe in a dream. It was such a miniature little moment of my life, but yet I felt so much warmth from it.

Despite the profoundness of this moment, I brushed it off. I continued on with my life. I returned to the grocery store many times, never seeing him until one day maybe three and a half months later. He was no longer at the forefront of my mind, but I certainly hadn’t forgotten about him. My brain wouldn’t allow it. So, when I caught a glimpse of him once more, hanging by the hot food section, perhaps on his lunch break, I sat right in front of him.

‘Do I know you?,’ I asked. I had always been a forward kind of woman. He looked up from his book. ‘No. Do I know you?’ I shook my head no. ‘Well then, I guess we don’t know each other.’ He extended his arm. ‘Nice to meet you. I’m Timothy.’

I reminded him of our brief encounter months before and how I’d crashed right into him. ‘Happens all the time. So you do know me then!’ He made some joke about how they really ought to fix the wheels on the shopping carts and I assured him it was really just my fault and clumsiness. And then he said something else that made my breathless. ‘Back to your question, I do feel like I might know you. This is going to sound weird but..’ By this point, my gaze was lazer sharp. I felt my heart drop into my chest. ‘I feel like I’ve seen you in a dream before, strangely enough.’ Then, in that moment, my mouth spoke words that hadn’t even been processed yet by my brain. ‘Were you adopted?’

He commented about how random of a question that was, but said yes. He was adopted, but both of his parents had passed. One by car accident when he was 7, and his mother by breast cancer just two days before his 38th birthday. The wound was still fresh. I asked him how old he was, to which he responded, ‘I’m about to be 40 this year.’ I felt my heart pumping out of my chest. In my head, I thought, ‘I gave birth to a child 40 years ago.’ But.. it couldn’t be. We chatted a little longer. I honestly don’t know about what. My thoughts were bouncing around like crazy. At one point, he added, ‘I still don’t know my birth mom.’

When I went home that day, I began searching like crazy online about birth moms, adoptive children, and how to find them. Very quickly, I learned about DNA ancestry tests. I had never taken one before, but it felt absolutely necessary. The mutual dreams. The age. The feeling. It all seemed to align by some inexplicable magic. I felt like my life was some scripted Lifetime movie.

I didn’t fully understand the process, so I got my niece to help me out a bit. And sure enough, after some time, I was confronted with a name. A confirmed match. My son, my baby. The DNA said it all. But his name was not Timothy, like the man in the store. I felt a bit of disappointment. I was so sure it was him. But mostly I was overwhelmed with joy at the match.

I had contemplated trying to find my birth son all these years, especially during the hard times when I couldn’t carry to full term. But I thought it selfish to go seeking out the child I had given up just because I was aching in pain. I didn’t want to disrupt the normalcy of anyone’s life and intrude on a family that had, for so long, lived their life without my presence. It felt intrusive and wrong. But something in my soul, for some reason, told me to go for it now. The timing simply felt right. I’m in my 60s and I guess I thought, ‘It’s now or never.’

The first three weeks of waiting were painful. Each day, I waited by my phone for a call. Every email sent a sinking feeling in my chest. And then it finally came. The call. I almost didn’t answer it, thinking it was some sort of insurance fraud call. I had already gotten two of those that morning. But I guess the universe made me do it.

‘Hello?,’ I said. ‘Hi, this is Timothy. This is your son. I got your emails.’ I immediately said, ‘Timothy.. I thought your name was Rob… My son’s name is Rob it said.’ He chuckled, nervously. ‘Rob is my birth name, but I go by Timothy. Or Tim if you’d like.’ My eyes filled with tears. I swear to you my body felt ten tons lighter, though my heart was heavy with love. For the first time in a while, my mouth caught up to my mind. ‘Tim. I’ve seen you in my dreams. I’ve also crashed into you with my shopping cart…’ He didn’t speak for a while. He only sobbed, my tears flowing with him. I knew in that moment what my soul had been missing all those years. It was missing my Tim.

I was never a believer in miracles, but this… this was a miracle of the utmost kind. I’m convinced the universe spoke to me and brought me to California. It brought me to that grocery story. It sent me midnight dreams, and later, my son. It brought me ceaseless joy and beauty, just when my son was hurting the most, needing a mother again. I know I won’t replace her, and I don’t want to, but I promise to love him unconditionally until the end of time and beyond.

I will never leave his side again. The universe brought us together and it’s going to take an army to tear us apart.”

Courtesy of Anthony Tran Photography

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Tanya. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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