Woman Reunited With Abandoned Baby She Found 20 Years Earlier

Azita Milanian and Matthew Whitaker on his 20th birthday
Azita Milanian and Matthew Whitaker on his 20th birthday
Screenshot: KTLA-TV

Finally some good news, dammit!

Twenty years ago, a woman jogging heard the cries of a newborn baby as she ran the trails of Altadena, Calif. The little boy, half buried in the dirt, was so fresh that his umbilical cord was still attached.


Just hours old, the little guy was exposed to the elements and just a few hours away from the buzzards circling. The woman flagged down a car and got the baby to the hospital, where he grew stronger and even thrived.

That woman, Azita Milanian, and that baby, Matthew Whitaker, met earlier this week, on the very same day they had met two decades earlier.

“Finally, all my dreams came true,” said a tearful Milanian, revealing that she thought often about what happened to that baby boy from so many years before. “I was waiting for you for 20 years.”

The reunion happened after Whitaker, who was later adopted, took a genetic test to find out about his ancestry. Those results were read on Ryan Seacrest’s syndicated radio show.

In doing her research, one of the show’s producers realized that her guest was the same baby rescued so many years ago, and decided to reunite the two.


Last week, Milanian surprised Whitaker with a birthday card reading, “Happy Birthday! Baby Christian Mountain Angel Mathew.”

On the show, Milanian talked about that fateful day, when she had been asked to go dancing but decided to go running instead.


The Los Angeles Times reports:

One of her dogs, Tango, had stopped to smell and scratch at the dirt on the trail. Milanian went to investigate and saw two feet coming out of the ground. At first she thought it was an animal, but then she heard the infant cry.

When she started digging, she found a baby wrapped in a blue towel. She lifted him onto her arm and began digging the dirt from his nose and mouth.

“Please don’t die,” she said to the baby. “I will never leave you. I love you.”

After she found him, Milanian called 911 but was disconnected several times before she finally flagged down a motorist, who contacted the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.


After paramedics came, they immediately took baby Matthew to the hospital. His body temperature had fallen to 80 degrees, and he was treated for severe hypothermia. Doctors think that the baby’s size—he weighed 7 pounds, 12 ounces—enabled him to survive, in what doctors called a “miracle.”

Meanwhile, Whitaker grew up in the South Bay area of Los Angeles, never knowing the story of how he had been found. The only clue was his middle name, Christian, the name nurses gave him in the hospital.


“I was hoping that he would find me, the same way we found each other that day,” said Milanian, who is an Iranian-born American citizen.

Whitaker was 17 when he learned from a family member that he had been adopted, and then, last year, another relative told him the story of how he was found.


The day they reunited, Milanian drove Whitaker to the hiking trail where she found him. Later, she asked if he was OK.

“This could have been my grave,” Whitaker said.

Milanian softly answered, “You were wanted.”

Ms. Bronner Helm is the Senior Editorial Director at Colorlines. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.


Mercenary Chef

Curse you, Angela, for making a grown man cry* right as he’s about to leave the house. (*Not me, some other guy. This is because of spring aller-ahh, fuck it.)

I need to hold my daughter now.