The Current

They had a fleeting romance — and a son he didn't know about. 50 years later, they're back together

Robin Pitt Taylor had a brief romance with Karen Paul decades ago, before she disappeared from his life without a word.

Robin Pitt Taylor and Karen Paul had a brief affair, before she disappeared from his life

Robin Pitt Taylor and Karen Paul dated in the 1960s, and reconnected later in life. (Alexa-Chanelle Lauzon/CBC)

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Originally published on June 24, 2021

In the summer of 2017, Robin Pitt Taylor got a Facebook message from Karen Paul — a woman he didn't recognize — asking if he was the man she knew at 19.

The Sutton, Que., resident racked his brain, and then it hit him: they had gone on two dates when they both lived in Montreal — some 50 years ago.

"I wrote back, and said, 'Yes, I'm that Robin, how are you?'" he told The Current.

The next message left him on the floor.

'''Your son has found his birth mother, me, and now wants to know … who the birth father is, and it's you.'" 

The pair had enjoyed a short-lived romance in 1967, but lost contact after Karen became pregnant. She never told him about the baby, or that she had given him up for adoption. 

I was annoyed, because I thought I had shut the door. I didn't want to hear from him again.- Karen Paul

When he found out all those decades later, Robin, 75, was "ecstatic" about the news of a son he never knew about, and the return of the lover he once thought he had lost. 

But Karen was busy building a relationship with the son who had come back into her life and wasn't sure she wanted to reconnect with Robin at the same time.

After a few missed calls back and forth, Karen left Robin a voicemail, relaying that their son wanted to get in touch.

She signed off with a "thank you," thinking she wouldn't hear from Robin again.

"He actually called back!" recalled Karen, 71, who was living in Oakville, Ont., at the time.

"I was annoyed, because I thought I had shut the door. I didn't want to hear from him again — just call your son!"

But that night, they stayed on the phone for hours. 

An 'upper-crust' girl and a downtown guy

Karen was an engineering student at McGill University when she was introduced to Robin, a 21-year-old jazz choreographer. Their connection was instant.

Robin and Karen lost contact for more than 50 years. (Alexa-Chanelle Lauzon/CBC)

"I honestly think I was very much in love with him then. But you know, you're young, right?" Karen said. 

But after two dates, Robin said that Karen "disappeared ... I didn't see her again."

He asked around, wondering if he had done something wrong.

"My friends said, 'Well, don't forget they're sort of an upper-crust family from Westmount, and you're a downtown guy Robin, so of course … it didn't work," he recalled.

"So that's it, life happens, keep going. And keep going I did."

During that time, Karen learned she was pregnant, but she didn't want to tell Robin out of fear of rejection. 

"I perceived him as being constantly on the go, and probably had a trail of women behind him ... and so, I thought, I can't tell him that because all he's gonna do is laugh."

Her parents didn't react well, she said, and suggested she terminate the pregnancy.

"That petrified me — an abortion was a back-alley situation," Karen said.

I always wondered what he was like, what happened to him.- Karen Paul

She worked for as long as she could, before checking into a Montreal maternity hospital that had a wing for unwed mothers. The nuns who ran it were tough on them, Karen said, but it was the protection she needed. 

Her son was born in May 1968.

"He was taken away right away. There was nothing more because I said yes, I want him to be adopted."

In the years that followed, Karen left Montreal and settled in Oakville. She married and had two children. 

Meanwhile, Robin left Montreal for the countryside outside Sutton, where he also married and had two children. 

Both said they didn't think of one another much as their lives unfolded, but for Karen, the baby she offered for adoption was often "in the back of my mind."

Karen and her son, Daniel Dupré in 2015. (Submitted by Daniel Dupré)

Search for mother

Just before his 50th birthday, Karen's son started looking for her.

Daniel Dupré grew up in Montreal's South Shore, but had never wanted to find his biological parents.

"In my head, it was: She dumped me, so why should I look for her?"

But curiosity took over as he got older.

Karen was surprised but pleased to hear from him, and wanted to know everything about him.

But when they met, Daniel wanted to know why she had given him up. 

"I was just too young, and I just couldn't support him, and I thought that he would get a far, far better upbringing," Karen said, through tears.

After their first meeting, Daniel said they kept talking, and it "developed into something nicer."

He brought a photo album to their next meeting "to show her my life."

"That's what we talked about: How was he brought up? How are his parents? What does he do? How's his love life? How's his children? Everything, 'cause I kept shooting questions," Karen said.

Daniel said it was "a good thing that it just turned around … it was just destiny I guess."

Robin and Karen with their biological son, Daniel, centre. (Alexa-Chanelle Lauzon/CBC)

Reuniting, decades later

By the time they reconnected, Karen and Robin were both single. 

They decided to meet in person, but there were a couple of stumbling blocks: Robin showed up with a cigarette in his mouth, and a goatee — two of Karen's pet peeves. 

It wasn't long before the goatee disappeared, and after 54 years of being a smoker, he quit.

"It's like fate has said to us, we belong together, and we just have to understand that this is the two of us, together," Karen said.

Daniel met Robin in December 2017, a month after his parents had reconnected in person. They hit it off, and all three have gotten to know each other's families.

Their son even helped them with a recent big move, when Karen and Robin moved in together after three years in a long-distance relationship.

Daniel, Karen and Robin Dec. 2017. That Christmas holiday was the first time all three met together. (Submitted by Daniel Dupré)

They plan to get married, and Daniel will be in attendance.

"It's all my fault," he joked.

Both Robin and Karen say it's OK that they didn't get together over 50 years ago, as long as they're together now.

"Even though we may only have 30 years left of our lives, wow, how beautiful it is to leave life, having 30 or however many years of absolute happiness with a partner you really want," Karen said.   

Robin agreed: "God bless our son for looking for you."

Written by Padraig Moran. Produced by Alexa-Chanelle Lauzon.

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