Missouri man finds daughter given up for adoption

Staff Writer

Don Woodson's odyssey to find his long lost daughter — armed with his truck
and a sign with his phone number on it — ended last week in Nashville.

He had been searching since July 2002, when his daughter called him at his home
in Troy, Mo. At the time she called, his mind was muddled from painkillers from
a heart surgery, so he didn't understand who was on the line.

The daughter, who had been placed for adoption before he ever saw her, never
called back, and his search for her began on the strength of a half-remembered
word: -ashville, or something-ville. Her Southern accent was very thick. Last
week, he came here convinced that she had said, ''Nashville.''

Two friends of the woman, now 39, heard him interviewed on the radio and read
about his quest in The Tennessean.

By the time they called, the 60-year-old retired St. Louis Teamsters president
had left town to try his luck in Mobile, Ala. Woodson turned his truck around,
checked back into the Nashville motel he had just left, and waited for the
phone to ring.

''I was very apprehensive,'' he said in a phone interview from Missouri
Wednesday about the prospect of talking with his daughter. ''I just couldn't
believe it was really happening. After hunting that long, then boom! It's here.
I was somewhat emotional over it.''

The two talked for about 45 minutes that night, a Saturday, and again for 1½
hours before she went to church in the morning. ''I was getting ready to hang
up with her,'' he said. ''I felt so good, I told her I didn't want to hang up
the phone.''

Woodson had gifts for her: a ring with sentimental value and a photograph of
himself in a bathing suit standing on a beach in Naples, Italy, in 1962. The
photo was taken while he was stationed overseas with the Navy just before she
was conceived.

Woodson said his daughter wasn't yet ready to meet face to face. Her two young
children didn't know they weren't actually related to Grandma and Grandpa, he
said. For that reason, she asked Woodson not to share her name with the media.

Once she's had time to talk to her family, he said, he hopes they'll be able to
get together.

He's saving the gifts until they do meet. Until then, they'll share phone
calls, letters and exchange pictures, he said.

A good friend will come and bail you out of jail . . . but, a true friend will
be sitting next to you saying, "**** . . . that was fun!"