Parents, Aisle 15

In 1985, a Michigan woman named Christine Tallady gave birth to a son. She was in her early-20s at the time and, not ready to be a full-time parent (and unwed), contacted an adoption agency. The agency, a Grand Rapids firm called the D.A. Blodgett for Children, placed Tallady’s son with a local couple. But while Tallady did not want to be a mom yet, she also didn’t want her baby to grow up never knowing his birth mother. She informed the agency to leave the records open, allowing her child to look up her contact information later in life if he so wished.

Twenty-two years later, she got a call from the agency — at her job, which she had started just a few months earlier.

Tallady was understandably surprised. Not only had her long-lost biological son found a way to contact her, but somehow, the Blodgett agency knew that she was the head cashier at a specific Lowe’s Home Improvement store in Grand Rapids. What was going on? Blodgett explained. Tallady’s location was provided to the agency by one of her co-workers — a delivery truck driver by the name of Steve Flaig. He had been working at this Lowe’s for about two years, but had only met Tallady a few times — passing in the aisles, perhaps here or there when he went to buy something or she had to put out something for delivery, and, most importantly, on the day Flaig was born. He wasn’t just her co-worker. He was her long-lost son.

A few years earlier, Flaig — with the blessing of his adoptive parents — contacted the D.A. Blodgett agency in hopes of reuniting with his birth mother. This should have proved rather simple, given that the agency was able to legally provide him with her name and information as of the date of adoption. Add in the power of Internet and locating “Christine Tallady” should have been as easy as a Google search or two. Unfortunately, Flaig misspelled his mother’s name — “Talladay” instead of “Tallady” — and as a result, the searchers turned up nothing.

But in 2007, Flaig noticed his error. Returning to Google, he found that a Tallady family lived just a few miles from the Lowe’s he worked at. Pleased by this discovery, he mentioned it to his boss, according to USA Today. His boss immediately mentioned that a “Chris Tallady” also worked at the same Lowe’s. Flaig was, understandably, too uncomfortable to walk up to his co-worker and ask “are you my mommy?,” but wanted to make the connection. He asked the Blodgett agency to call her (at work — the only contact info for her that he had!) and they, of course, obliged.

For some reason, the agency told Tallady that her son worked at the same Lowe’s she did and that his first name was Steve — but didn’t provide his last name. As TODAY reported, Tallady “started running down the list of Steves who worked in the store, eliminating them by age until she settled on the nice young man who drove a delivery truck. Once she verified his birthday, she knew for certain who he was.”

The two met, in person and as son and mother, for the first time (okay, second) in December of 2007.



Bonus Fact: In South Korea, at least (as of 2008), adoption isn’t seen as socially acceptable as it is in other places. According to a New York Times report, the stigma is so strong that women who have adopted babies sometimes claim that the child was the result of an affair rather than tell the truth. Further, at least one married woman intent on adopting carried a maternity pillow under her blouse to fake a pregnancy. As a result, many South Korean babies put up for adoption are placed with families overseas. The government is stepping in with financial incentives to reduce the stigma and increase the percentage of in-nation adoptions.

From the Archives: Doubting Thomas: The story of a famous adoptee.

Take the Quiz: As of 2010, what (non-US) countries do Americans most often adopt babies from?

Related: “Lowe’s Best Selling House Plans,” a book. Birth moms not included.