When Patti Langdon's doorbell rang Monday afternoon, the Tacoma woman expected a UPS delivery.
Instead, she got the son she released for adoption 43 years ago.
Langdon, 65, and Todd Smith, 43, of Lacey were reunited after he tracked down his birth mother through a classified ad she placed in The News Tribune on April 19.
“I’ve been looking for him for more than 30 years,” Langdon said Monday evening. “I’m afraid that if I go to sleep, I’ll wake up and find that it was all a dream.”
“It was completely luck of the draw,” added Smith, who said the reunion resulted from him acting on a whim.
Curious about how many people were born at Tacoma General Hospital the same day he was in 1967, Smith did a basic Internet search Saturday. He found the two-month-old ad in the paper, addressed to “Baby Boy Langdon.”
For as long as she can remember, Langdon has placed the same ad in the paper every year on her son’s birthday, changing only the age.
With a copy of the ad in hand, Smith and his wife, Tracey, drove to Langdon’s apartment on Mildred Street on Monday and knocked on the door, unannounced.
“I had no image in mind of what my birth mother looked like,” said Smith, who was raised in Winlock by his adoptive parents. “I never did any of that business because you run the risk of being disappointed. … I was more worried about her being disappointed with me.”
A tall blonde with blue eyes walked out the door. Mother and son immediately saw the family resemblance. They hugged. She smelled like gardenias.
“I just squeezed him tight,” Lang-don said. “I didn’t want to let go of him.”
Langdon, who grew up in what is now University Place, became pregnant with her only child when she was 22. “I got pregnant out of wedlock; it was the worst thing I have ever done,” she said.
Her father made her release the baby for adoption, she said.
“I loved my father, but I never forgave him for that.”
After she delivered her 8-pound, 13-ounce baby, she was separated from her newborn “because that’s how it was back then.” When the baby was 5ß weeks old, she got the chance to visit him at the adoption agency. Holding her infant, she dreamed of escaping with him.
“I wanted to jump out of the window of that adoption agency with him in my arms,” she said.
As Langdon reached her 30s and her friends had children, the ache intensified.
“Every April 19 I would cry, and every Mother’s Day I would disappear,” she said.
Langdon was married twice and had a miscarriage during her first marriage.
Mother and son spent several hours Monday outside Langdon’s apartment, updating each other on their lives. He served in the Navy and is an electrician; she worked in classified advertising at The News Tribune for 29 years and is a caregiver. They plan to get together with Smith’s adoptive parents.
“I told my two boys they have a new grandma,” Smith said.
Langdon can’t wait to meet her grandsons, ages 6 and 8, and see photos of her son growing up.
“I still can’t believe that we’ve found each other,” she said. “I don’t have to feel alone anymore.”
Joyce Chen: 253-597-8426 firstname.lastname@example.org