A Christmas wish: Finding our son - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

A Christmas wish: Finding our son

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Two Eastern Iowa birth parents on the search for their son, are reunited nearly 30 years later.  The then teens, who had given up their son for adoption at just three-days-old, are now celebrating a Christmas miracle all thanks to a simple post on social media. 

The search for these two birth parents goes back to 1988 in Dubuque, Iowa. Melissa Thompson and Troy Johansen were high school sweethearts. 

"We went to prom together," said Thompson. "I think that was our first big date."

The two, who were just 17-years old at the time, found out they were pregnant. Being young, they decided they would give their son up for adoption. 

"Troy and I have talked, and if we could go back and change that decision we would go back and do it in a heartbeat," said Thompson. "But we made the best decision we could at the time and we did it out of love. There hasn't been a day that's gone by that we haven't loved this kid."

At three-days-old they gave their son up for adoption. The two sweethearts eventually broke up shortly after the adoption, but they were always connected by the boy they didn't know. 

For only about five years, the two got pictures and letters from the adopted family through the agency. Then, they stopped hearing from the family, leaving them to wonder about their son. 

For years, they both searched, even turning to agencies. Four years ago, Johansen had learned from an agency that their son lost his adopted mother when he was 11 years old. He knew he had to find their son-so he reconnected with Thompson. 

"It doesn't sound like he's had a really easy time since then," Thompson recalls what he told her about their son.  "And my world really just dropped out under me that day, because everything that I had let myself believe, all of those years that we did this, so that he could be okay, and that he could be happy. And if that meant that a piece of us was missing, that was only fair exchange for his happiness. And to find out that maybe that wasn't the case was devastating. And then we doubled down our efforts, we joined forces to find him together. 

The two had been working through Catholic charities. Last Wednesday, they got a call from their social worker saying they were discontinuing their search because they haven't had much progress. 

But the answer to their search was right around the corner.

On Saturday, Johansen took to Facebook with a plea. He posted a picture of himself holding up a photo of his baby boy in a Cardinals shirt. Johansen wrote, "I'm asking for a lot for Christmas this year and I need everyone's help in getting what I want. If I get nothing else other than this one thing I will be the happiest man on Earth."

The Facebook post was shared thousands of times, by people in every state, and even out of the country. A search angel, better known as a private investigator, who had ties to Dubuque reached out to the two-saying she wanted to help.

"We would get so close-just to be heartbroken," said Thompson. "And in less than 24 hours of Troy's post we were talking to our son on the phone. Every single roadblock that the universe had thrown in our way had been lifted."

Within a matter of 15 minutes, she had cracked the 30 year mystery and found their son. .  

"There were eight babies born in Dubuque that day at this hospital," said Johansen. "And they said there were three Caucasians born that day so we had narrowed down to three. And so one of those was a girl so we narrowed it down to two."

Minutes later, the two were on the phone with their son, Chris Graham. 

"It was a number I didn't recognize," said Thompson. "And it said Fort Collins. And I picked it up and I said hello. And this voice said mom."

Their son Chris was calling from Fort Collins, Colorado. 

"As soon as I was calling, I was nervous," said Graham. "My heart was racing. But as soon as they answered the phone, as soon as the conversation kicked off-it just felt like it was natural as can be. The whole day I was just kind of pacing around my house with my face hurting from smiling so much, because I didn't-you know-just nonstop grinning. So many questions, so many answers solved. I feel like a complete person now."

Thompson had written a letter that she would be able to send to her son when he turned 18. But she never got the chance to send that letter to him. For the first time, his birth mother read the letter she had written over the phone. 

"I don't know where you are or when you will read this. But not matter where or when, I want you to know-that I've thought about you. I've prayed for you. And loved you everyday since you were born. When you were born you had blue eyes that looked so wise and deep. And I could tell that no matter where life lead you, you would survive. And knowing that in my heart, has helped me survive. I remember how much happiness you brought me for the few days we were together after you were born. And I'm comforted to know that you will always carry that happiness with you and to the people you love. I love you." 

This Christmas, their guardian angel is right there with all three. 

"They created me," said Graham.  I wouldn't be here today, regardless of all the struggles I've encountered-it's made me a stronger person. Adversity just builds character in the end. If anything else-I have every bit of them to thank for the person I am today."

It's a reunion nearly 30 years in the making, and it came just in time for the holidays. 

"I seriously can't tell you what an amazing guy this is," said Thompson. "He is good. He is kind, and he is forgiving. He's open to all of this. After all of this time, and he knows that we're his home. We're his family. He knows that."

The two plan on visiting Chris in Fort Collins very soon. Chris says he's looking forward to one thing in particular when he meets mom and dad for the first time. 

"I think that first hug-that first embrace," said Graham. 

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