Father and son reunited after 33 years

Wayne Hanson of Fulton (left) stands with his son, Christopher Davis of Illinois. The father and son recently reunited for the first time in 33 years. Hanson held onto two photographs of Christopher as a toddler and has searched for his son since 1979.

by Nicole Reitz

A Fulton resident and his first-born son were happily reunited last week after being separated for more than three decades.

Wayne Hanson, a supervisor at the Energy Recovery Facility, has four sons and one daughter.

Hanson, however, had not seen his first-born son, Christopher, for 33 years — that is, until they met last Friday.

Hanson became a father when he was 22 years old. He and his son’s mother lived together in Mississippi, but split up before Christopher’s third birthday.

Hanson, a deputy officer at the time, paid for his son’s immediate needs, but Christopher’s mother wanted a monthly child support sum.

Unsure whether or not the money would make it to Christopher, he was left with three options: get prosecuted for failure to pay child support, come up with the money, or sign off on parental rights.

He sought legal advice and chose to sign off on his son’s parental rights.

Hanson, describing himself as “young and dumb,” thought that giving up his rights meant that he had no say in matters such as discipline or what school he went to.

He realized the extent of his decision when he was told by his ex-wife that he couldn’t hold Christopher because he was no longer his son.

Three months following their split, Christopher and his mother left Mississippi, unbeknownst to Hanson.

“I didn’t know if she went across the street or to Russia,” he said.

With no Internet in the 1970s, Hanson found it impossible to track down the location of his son.

Making his search even more difficult, Christopher’s name was legally changed from Christopher Wayne Hanson to Christopher J. Davis.

Hanson moved to Fulton in the late 1980s and had two sons, Aaron and Cory. Hanson still searched for Christopher, but found that his son’s name was a common one.

“There were a million of them, but it wasn’t him,” said Hanson.

In 1985, Hanson even called the Maury Povich show, seeing if they could help. He hit a brick wall with the producers because Hanson couldn’t be certain what his son’s name was.

After years of actively searching, and assuming that his son’s middle initial was still W., Hanson’s search wasn’t producing any hits.

The last place he had seen Christopher was in Mississippi, but he could of easily of lived in any of the 50 states or abroad.

Frustrated with looking, Hanson gave up on finding his son five years ago. He figured that sooner or later, curiosity would get the best of Christopher and he would start looking.

One month ago, Christopher Davis found him.

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