TORONTO, Canada (AP) -- When Lori Haas joined Facebook, she didn't know much about the popular social networking site except that most of her friends were on it. Little did she know how life-changing the online tool would be.
After spending a year searching for the son she gave up for adoption 20 years ago in phone books, adoption registries and on the Internet to no avail, a friend suggested searching for him on Facebook.
"When my friend told me about the search tool and I typed in my son's name, Travis Sheppard, I couldn't believe it when I saw a photo of him," she said.
The photo was a thumbnail shot of Sheppard wearing a hat and sunglasses and he was with a friend. Haas felt sure he was her son, but since it was difficult to clearly make out the picture, she was hesitant to send him a message. Then a week later, Sheppard changed his profile photo to a lone shot of himself.
"He was still wearing a hat, but I knew, I just knew that was him. My heart was racing when I saw the photo," said the 37-year-old nurse from Vancouver. "We have the same long face and nose! And it was listed that he was in Vancouver. I couldn't believe it. I thought, 'Oh my god, he's been living here too?!"'
The 20-year-old Sheppard had moved to Vancouver only four months earlier in the hopes of locating his birth mother. He knew she had given him up for adoption in the suburb of Richmond when she was 17.
Haas worried about contacting Sheppard through Facebook since she didn't know if he knew he was adopted. She finally sent him a message saying she was looking for a relative and provided a birth date and name. He confirmed the details were his and sent her a message saying he thought she was his birth mother. The two decided to meet the following day.
"It was exciting and scary all at the same time," said Sheppard. "I'd heard so many horror stories about adopted kids meeting their birth parents, so I went into our meeting expecting nothing, so I wouldn't get too hurt since I wanted to know for so long about my mother. But as soon as we hugged, I knew everything was OK."
The connection between the two was instantaneous and they discovered they share similar characteristics and likes and dislikes.
"It was amazing how familiar it was meeting him and the feeling of being complete," said Haas. "I carried around the pain and anxiety of giving him up for adoption at such a young age, but when I heard him say that he didn't hate me for doing that, a chapter of my life ended and a new one is beginning."
Since that meeting two weeks ago, the two have spent almost every day together touring Vancouver's landmarks, as well as meeting Sheppard's birth father, his family and Haas' extended family.
"Everything's fallen into place so perfectly and, well, so easily because of Facebook," said Haas. "This weekend Travis and his birth father and I were all together. It's been one of the happiest moments of my life."
The reunited mother and son now have a profile photo showing them together on their Facebook pages. They plan to continue getting to know each other and to become a significant part of each other's life.
"I was about to delete my Facebook profile just a few days before I got the message from Lori," said Sheppard. "I can't even imagine if I had done that. I'd still be looking for my birth mom, I wouldn't have decided to stay in Vancouver and I'd still be wondering about my roots."