On December 29, Jen headed to work on what she thought was just another Tuesday.
She had no idea that before the day ended, her world would be rocked by a message on Ancestry from the son she had given up for adoption 30 years before.
This is their incredible story.
Back in 1985
Jen was 17. She had just graduated from high school and found herself pregnant.
She decided it would be best to place her baby boy for adoption.
Determined to find him the best family, she spent 3 days reading the files a social worker had given her describing several different families and thinking about which would be the best fit.
One family stood out. They had an 8-year-old and a farm with horses. Jen thought,
“This is the family he’s supposed to be with.”
During her pregnancy, she had made a quilt for him. She bought him an outfit, wrapped him in the blanket, and the social worker took him away. To this day, she still tears up thinking about that moment.
She never saw or met the parents.
Happy Birthday, Christopher
Jen had named her baby Christopher. Every year on his February birthday, she marked her calendar. She waited and hoped that when his 18th birthday came around, he would come looking for her.
She had 4 other children, and as they each turned between 11 and 13, she would tell them about their brother. She had photos from the hospital and his adoptive parents had given her a letter, which she shared.
His 18th birthday came and went. So did the 19th, 20th, 21st, and on and on. She later reflected,
“As each year went by, I thought, ‘Oh well.’ I always wanted him to be so secure and loved that he didn’t feel like he needed to find me.”
She didn’t want to disrupt his life. But she still harbored a secret hope, marking his birthday year after year.
My name is Landen…
On December 29, 2015, about 11:17 a.m., Jen was at work, at the Ancestry offices in Utah. She had no idea that the place she happened to work was about to change her life.
She and a couple of colleagues had every reason to be working from home, but for some reason all three had gone to the office.
They started talking about their test results and how the test can uncover newfound relatives. Jen’s colleagues urged her to log in to see how many messages about newfound family connections she had. She hadn’t logged in for quite a while.
This time when Jen logged in, she saw something strange in her results: One new match was labeled as a parent-child match.
The idea that it might be her son never even crossed Jen’s mind — until she saw a message starting with a line that took her breath away:
“My name is Landen. I was born in February, 1985, in Provo, Utah, and…”
…and I’ve been looking for you
She only made it through the first line. She knew it was her son.
It turned out that her “Christopher,” now Landen, had been searching for Jen for years.
He’d known since he was 3 or 4 that he was adopted. He’d seen the picture of her holding him, but in the photo only her arm was visible.
He tried looking for her when he turned 18. He was told he had to wait until he was 21, and then he had to sign up for a registry.
Jen never knew about the registry, so her name wasn’t on it. Landen signed up and waited and waited and waited.
Reunited at last
But Landen had no luck finding his birth mother — until now.
When Jen responded to his message on Ancestry, at first he didn’t believe it. He wanted to know how accurate the test was, if she was sure.
She sent him additional facts and scanned photos of him in the hospital. He had the same photos.
They met for the first time last May, when Jen traveled to Kansas, where Landen lives with his lovely wife and 3 children (who now have a new grandmother).
Meant to be
Jen will never forget that fateful December day she found her son – and the following May when she finally got to meet him in person. Everything had begun to line up 10 years before that moment for them to connect at that time, in that way.
If she had not started working at Ancestry, taken the DNA test, and by chance seen his message in time to respond soon after receiving it, who knows how many more birthdays she might have missed.
If Landen’s friend hadn’t bought him the AncestryDNA test kit, he would not have known to reach out to Jen. Another set of circumstances and despite the years of hoping, the two may have never even met.
Thankfully the stars aligned for their once-in-a-lifetime event, a happy reunion of mother and son exactly one year ago this Mother’s Day.
Now every May, Jen and Landen have a special anniversary, 30 years in the making: the celebration of a long lost connection that was truly meant to be.