ST. MARYS — When he gave his daughter up for adoption, Matt Paul, a college student in Arizona at the time, knew it was what was best for her.
“I had no future yet,” he said. “I was still in college, I had a part-time job, and her mother was the same that I was.”
Having been raised by a loving adoptive family himself, Paul said his positive experience helped him come to the decision.
“I think if I would not have gone through it, I might not have thought about it, but I had a great childhood,” he said.
After holding her as a baby the day she was born, Paul said he hoped he would meet her again, and 24 years later, he received a letter in the mail from Arizona.
“I just had a feeling when I opened that letter from Arizona that it had to be her, and I was right,” Paul said. “I was so happy.”
More than 1,500 miles away, Anna Swahn had hired a detective to find her birth parents.
“I’ve been trying to find him my whole life,” Swahn said. “I was actually looking on the internet for my original birth certificate and I came over a thing called Confidential Intermediary.”
An Arizona service, the Confidential Intermediary Program helps “facilitate contact between parties of an adoption,” according to the Arizona Judicial Branch website.
“First we tried to find my birth mom, but she didn’t want to find me, so then, he said we could find my birth dad, an on St. Patrick’s Day, it was like the St. Patrick’s Day miracle,” Swahn said.
“I got to talk to my father, and we’ve been talking pretty much every Sunday.”
After spending several months getting to know each other through phone calls and social media, the two found a similar interest in movies and videos, a laid back attitude and their eyes. Swahn was planning a trip and decided to add a stop at JB Pastries Thursday morning to meet her father for the first time.
“I’ve always wondered what he looks like and now that I’ve gotten to talk to him and see him, everything makes sense like why I am how I am,” Swahn said. “Everything just makes sense.”
Swahn said she was “very excited” to finally meet her father in person.
“I’ve waited for this moment my whole life,” she said. “It’s just weird that it’s here. It doesn’t feel real.”
Swahn also brought along her 5-year-old daughter, Kendra, on the trip to meet her grandfather.
“I was just getting used to having a daughter, and now I’m a grandpa, too,” Paul said with a laugh. “They’re both beautiful, and I’m glad to meet them.”
Swahn said her adoptive family has been supportive of her journey to find her father.
“I have a very good family, and they’re supportive of this,” she said. “They’re a little nervous for me but they understand that I always was curious. Even though you have your parents, you still want to know, ‘Where do I come from.’”
While their time spent together was brief — Swahn was only in town for the day — the two will continue to stay in contact through phone calls and social media. They also are looking into finding more family.
“I think it would be cool to find his birth mom or his birth family just to see more people from our family,” Swahn said.
“We’ll see, they might not be alive but we may be able to meet a brother or sister. You never know.”