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A boy was never supposed to know his birth mother. His adoptive parents had other plans.

How an adopted son honored his birth mom
How an adopted son honored his birth mom 02:55

Lehi, Utah — Schauna Austin is about to let you in on a secret. 

When the 46-year-old was 20 and single, she got pregnant. She says she wasn't ready to be a mom, so she made the decision to place her baby for adoption. It wasn't easy. 

"I've never talked about it — ever," Austin said.  

She said holding her baby for the first time "was perfect." 

"I knew I would have him for a short time, so I made every minute count with him," she said. 

She called the boy Riley and held him for 72 hours straight, until the time came to let go. 

Her Riley became somebody else's Steven. Like most closed adoptions, a firewall went up between Austin and Steven's new parents. There was no communication whatsoever. But that lasted about a week. 

"It was like, OK, this is the way it should be," said Jennifer Schoebinger, Steven's adoptive mom. "She is part of our family." 

Schoebinger and her husband, Chris, say they had no interest in excluding the birth mother. 

"You know, you can't have too many people loving you, right?" Chris Schoebinger said. "Why couldn't he be both of ours?" 

So, year after year, they sent Austin piles of pictures and bound books detailing Steven's every major and minor milestone — like a complete list of his vocabulary — so that when Austin and Steven were ready, they could pick up where they left off. 

The two reunited when Steven was 7. Austin taught him how to fish and they have been reeling in the memories ever since. 

"I was blessed beyond words," Austin said. 

Steven added, "I kind of got the best of both worlds, for sure." 

He is now 26 and married with a baby boy of his own, much to the delight of his birth mom. 

"That was really special," Austin said. "It just brought that full circle around." 

Especially when she heard the baby's name was Riley. 

"It felt like that name was just supposed to be in the family," Steven said. 

Chris Schoebinger says there's a lesson to be learned from their story. 

"I think the lesson we learned is that sometimes we create barriers where barriers don't need to be," he said. "And when we pull down those barriers, we really find love on the other side." 

Those are words of wisdom to live by. 

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