Plainfield Township, Mich. Steve Flaig's long search for his birth mother ended at an incredible place: the checkout line of the home-improvement store where he works.
Flaig had met Christine Tallady after she started working at Lowe's several months ago, but it was only recently that the 22-year-old delivery driver figured out she was the woman who had given him up for adoption. It took him a few weeks, and some help from the adoption agency, to give her the news.
"I would walk by her, look at her from a distance, not knowing how to approach her," Flaig said. "You don't come stocked with information on how to deal with this."
With support from his adoptive parents, Flaig had asked the agency, DA Blodgett for Children, for information on his birth mother when he turned 18.
Tallady, who was single and not ready to be a mother when she gave birth to Flaig in 1985, had left the adoption record open, figuring he would want to contact her one day.
Flaig received information, including Tallady's name, but Internet searches turned up nothing. He didn't make the connection after meeting his birth mother because he didn't know her last name.
In October, Flaig looked at the paperwork again and realized he had been spelling Tallady's surname wrong. He soon came up with a home address around the corner from where he was raised, and less than a mile from the Lowe's in Plainfield Township, just outside Grand Rapids.
When he mentioned it to his boss, she said, "You mean Chris Tallady, who works here?"
"I was like, there's no possible way," Flaig said.
On Dec. 12, 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, head cashier at the Lowe's, was astonished to learn that the son she had given up for adoption 22 years earlier was a co-worker.
"I started crying," the 45-year-old said. "I figured he would call me sometime, but not like this."