Damon Davis and his mother, Ann Sullivan, treasure their time together. Save for some perseverance and twists of fate, they would’ve never met.
Thirty-eight years ago, when she was a young college student on a scholarship, Sullivan made the difficult choice to put her child up for adoption.
“I would just put my arms around my belly and talk to him about all of the things that I wanted him to know,” she said, recalling the difficult days leading up to Damon’s birth.
Once he was born, he was adopted and grew up happy and well adjusted. But as he grew into adulthood and started a family of his own, he longed to know who his birth mother was. He harbored no illusions about how such a search could end, he said.
“Anytime you try to find someone, you have no idea what they've been up to or what they’re expecting from you,” he said.
Likewise, Sullivan wondered what had become of the child she’d carried but never known. She, too, wanted to find the child she’d given up, and she worried about what emotions such a reunion would yield.
“As the person who gave him up for adoption, I thought, Maybe he won’t forgive me for that,” she said.
But Damon had forgiven her and was looking for her. He consulted an adoption caseworker, who managed to put together a file that was passed along to him. He took the next step: writing her a letter. Soon, they were exchanging information about their respective lives. They both worked for the federal government -- their offices were just blocks apart. They both attended the same graduate school. And they shopped at the same mall.
Davis sent Sullivan pictures from his wedding and of his young son, though Damon had yet to lay eyes on his biological mother. Still, when they met, he was not at a disadvantage.
“There was something about how she looked at me,” Davis said. “I knew that was the person I had come to see.”
They embraced and cried together.
Since then, they’ve been catching up on the family history, and both like to point to a particular irony of their reunion, contained in that introductory letter that Davis wrote to his mother. It harkened back to those talks she once had with her unborn son.
“Some of the things that I said to him he actually included in the letter he wrote to introduce himself,” Sullivan said. “It was amazing.”
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