Steve Flaig wasn't sure how to approach his co-worker with his big news. It would seem brash to walk up and say, ''Hi, I'm Steve, your son.'' How would she react to that, he wondered.
Flaig's long search for his birth mother ended in early October when he learned that she was the woman he previously knew only as Chris, the head cashier at a Lowe's home-improvement store just outside Grand Rapids, in Kent County's Plainfield Township.
''I would walk by her, look at her from a distance, not knowing how to approach her,'' Flaig, 22, told The Grand Rapids Press for a story published Wednesday. ''You don't come stocked with information on how to deal with this.''
When Lowe's Cos. hired Christine Tallady to work at the store last April, she had no idea that the young delivery driver to whom she was introduced was her son.
She gave birth to him on Oct. 5, 1985, while she was single and not ready to be a mother. It was a difficult decision for her to give him up for adoption.
Tallady left the adoption record open, figuring that her son might someday want to contact her. She often thought of him, particularly on his birthday, but life went on. She got married and had two more children.
Flaig, meanwhile, always knew that he was adopted. His parents, Pat and Lois Flaig, supported him when he decided to search for his birth mother. They had done the same with their younger son, Scott, who found his birth mother almost a year ago.
When Steve Flaig turned 18 four years ago, he asked DA Blodgett for Children, the agency that arranged his adoption, for his background information.
It arrived a couple of months later and included his birth mother's name. He searched the Internet for her address but came up empty.
In October, around his 22nd birthday, Flaig took out the paperwork from DA Blodgett and realized he had been spelling his birth mother's surname wrong as ''Talladay.''
He typed ''Tallady'' into a search engine and came up with a home address that was less than a mile from the Lowe's store and just around the corner from where his adoptive parents raised him.
When he mentioned it to his boss, she said, ''You mean Chris Tallady, who works here?''
Flaig was stunned: ''I was like, there's no possible way.''
On Dec. 12, on his day off, Flaig happened to be driving past DA Blodgett's offices, so he stopped in and told them of his find. An employee there volunteered to call Tallady for him.
Tallady, now 45, was surprised to get the call at Lowe's and astonished to learn that the son she had given up for adoption 22 years earlier was a co-worker.
''It was a shock,'' she said. ''I started crying. I figured he would call me sometime, but not like this.''
Flaig said he is eager to meet her other two children, 12-year-old Alexandria and 10-year-old Brandon, his half-siblings.
''I have a complete family now, all my kids,'' Tallady said. ''It's a perfect time of year. It's the best Christmas present ever.''
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