Patti Langdon was 22 and unmarried when she got pregnant. Her father made her give up the child for adoption because "that's how it was back then." Every April 19 for the last 43 years, Langdon, a veteran of the Tacoma News-Tribune's classifieds section, has placed the exact same ad in the paper -- only changing the age to reflect how old her child would be with each passing year -- in hopes that her long-lost son would read it on his birthday and respond. Last Monday, he finally did.
Todd Smith had never even tried to track down his birth mother before. The electrician from Lacey wasn't sure if he could handle what he might find.
"I never did any of that business because you run the risk of being disappointed," he told the News-Tribune. "I was more worried about her being disappointed with me."
Tacoma News-Tribune courtesy of Tracey Smith
Patti Langdon and her son Todd Smith were reunited by a classified ad 43 years later.
But on a whim, Smith did an internet search to see if any other kids had been born on the same day as him at Tacoma General. From there he found the two-month-old classified ad addressed to "Baby Boy Langdon."
With his wife riding shotgun, Smith drove to Langdon's apartment in Tacoma on Monday afternoon, ad in hand, and knocked on the door unannounced.
A tall, blonde woman 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," Langdon said. "I didn't want to let go of him."
Langdon and Smith have decades of catching up to do. And they plan to start at dinner with his adoptive parents, where she'll get to meet his two sons, her new grandkids, ages six and eight.
"I still can't believe that we've found each other," Langdon told the News-Tribune. "I don't have to feel alone anymore."