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A Mother And Son, Lost And Found

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A Mother And Son, Lost And Found

A Mother And Son, Lost And Found

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

GUY RAZ, host:

Finally tonight, we'll wrap up our world tour with a story about strangers connecting just around the corner. It's a tale of a first encounter between a mother and a son, 20 years after he was given up for adoption.

Carol Brobeck and Joel Woodruff tell their Mother's Day story. Carol starts.

Ms. CAROL BROBECK (Mother): This is the e-mail he sent. Here goes nothing. I'm almost a hundred percent positive you are who I'm looking for. I am baby boy Brobeck, born 12/28 at Fort Belfour, except now I go by Joel. I'm six-feet tall, 145 pounds, have blue eyes and brown hair. I found a bulletin you had posted, stating you were looking for me, and anyone with info should e-mail you at this address.

There's so much to tell you. Please confirm my presumption that you are who I think you are, my biological mother. I know this is sudden and unexpected, but I'm quite excited. If I'm right about all of this, I promise we will be in contact. Love always.

Mr. JOEL WOODRUFF (Son): I had a child, and suddenly I needed to know my medical history. I was working at a furniture warehouse. Some lady that worked there, her daughter had just helped someone else find their biological parents.

I gave her my full name. I gave her my date of birth, found my birth certificate and gave her my place of birth, and that's all I gave her, and I fully expected her to say, yeah, dead end.

She called me, like, eight hours later and said, I think I found your mom. Say what?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BROBECK: I was 19. I fell in love with a boy in college. After we broke up, I found out I was pregnant. I had to tell my parents, who I'd been living with all summer. I said I couldn't think of anything to do but adoption. I was actually hoping that they would say, well, this is the start of the conversation, but they said you're absolutely right. My father called me a slut and a tart and dialed the social services.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BROBECK: I'm laughing, but it's bitter.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WOODRUFF: Being a naive 18-year-old and sort of thinking, well, if I'm going to go introduce myself to somebody who may or may not be ready to see me, whether they like it or not, I'm going to introduce myself. So I shaved, and I believe I even ironed a shirt and put on, like, you know, my sort of cheap suit that I had at that point, walked into the visitor entrance up to the front desk and politely asked for one Carol Brobeck.

Ms. BROBECK: And as I was going around the guard's desk, Nathan(ph) said to me Carol, there's someone here to see you.

Mr. WOODRUFF: The more she looked at me, the more I thought, oh, no. She knows exactly who I am. And then at that moment, as I was processing that, ding.

Ms. BROBECK: And I turned around, and there was this beautiful young man in a suit and a tie and an earring, and I looked at him, and he said, you didn't get my e-mail, did you? And I said, no, I'm sorry, I got into work late. I haven't even turned my computer on. And then he said, you don't know me, do you? And I said, well, the thing is I think I do, but should I know you as I think I know you? And he said, uh-huh. And I said, is your birth date December 26, 1980?

Mr. WOODRUFF: Were you born December 26, 1980? I said, yup.

Ms. BROBECK: I was shaking and staring at him and feeling weak in the knees, and I looked at him, and I said you're alive. You're alive. You're alive. And he pulled me into a hug, and he said yeah, I thought you needed to know that.

It's just - you have no idea what it's like to be voluntarily hugged by the child you gave away, and I said well, where do we go? What do we do? Can I feed you? Can I buy you brunch or lunch or whatever? That's all I could think I wanted to do was - let me feed my son.

He told me that day that I had this two-year-old granddaughter.

Mr. WOODRUFF: I think that excited her. I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, though, right? I was 18 with a kid, here I was, asking the lady who had a kid at 20.

Ms. BROBECK: And so I ended up walking him down to where he'd parked, and then I had to watch him drive away.

Mr. WOODRUFF: I had gotten what I needed, and she had only scratched the surface on what she needed, and that was the end of the day.

Ms. BROBECK: I didn't know if I'll ever see him again, but I know his name. I'll never lose him again. I mean, there was like - this can go on forever, but it can't get better right now. It can only go on forever.

RAZ: Carol Brobeck and Joel Woodruff remain in touch. In January, they attended the inauguration concert on the mall together. Our story was produced by Veej Millington(ph) and Shea Shackleford(ph) for the Speakeasy Storycast.

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