It took Sandi Aiken six years to find BirthMom Buds, a support group for expectant mothers or mothers who found new families for their children. They were the first ones she turned to after she learned that her 17-year-old son wanted to visit her.
Two months earlier, in September 2010, the son she had named Christopher sent her a message on Facebook: "Hello Mom. I finally found you."
Aiken had hoped to one day meet the son she gave up for adoption years earlier, but she worried he would hate her. Friends from the support group told her to be brave.
She went to the airport two hours ahead of time and cried while she waited. She was unsure if she would recognize him but as soon as he rounded the corner she knew it was him. The two embraced, marking the start of a relationship that continues to thrive, she said, even with his adoptive family.
"It's like he was never out of my life even though he went down a different path," the Arkansas woman said. "I feel good about it, too, knowing he had a good life and became the fine young man he is today."
Not every encounter has a storybook ending.
Cadieux is happy he knows who his biological mother is, but it hasn't brought peace or closure to the rest of his family.
It took him two years to respond to the Facebook message and call his mother. They spoke briefly about her decision, and he concluded that Down syndrome had prevent her from making her own decision. Cadieux pitied her.
The two became Facebook friends, keeping in touch through occasional messages, he said. But in the interest of avoiding conflict, he hasn't taken the relationship any further. There's still a lot of tension between his adoptive family and the one he never knew, and he's not interested in starting another feud.
"I can't blame her for wanting to see her son grow up," he said. "This is a way for her to stay quietly in the background and be a part of my life."