TWENTY YEARS AGO, TWO TEENAGERS FOUND AN ABANDONED BABY. NOW, THEY WILL REUNITE
WASHINGTON – Christopher Astle and Emily Yanich were teenage pals strolling back from a 7-Eleven that summer afternoon – two ordinary kids on an ordinary Wednesday after school – when they found the abandoned baby.
NIKKI KAHN WASHINGTON POSTMia Fleming, 20, who was abandoned as an infant, found the two people who rescued her through Facebook. It was Sept. 6, 1989. They discovered the newborn wrapped in towels at the front door of a townhouse in their suburban Fairfax County, Va., complex and took the infant to Emily’s, where her stepfather called police.
The whole thing was over pretty quickly. Authorities took the baby girl, who was later adopted. Chris and Emily, both 15, went on with their lives, although Emily often cried when she told people the story, and the two called each other every Sept. 6. Twenty years passed. Then, on Dec. 2, a college student named Mia Fleming sent them both a message via Facebook: Might they be the same Chris and Emily who had once found a baby left at a stranger’s door? If so, she just wanted to say thanks. After all these years, the little girl they had found had found them.
The story of Mia, Chris and Emily, recounted by the three during the past few days, is a nativity narrative for modern times. There were no heavenly hosts that warm afternoon in 1989, just the distant ambulance sirens after the call to 911. But the event seemed blessed all the same.
Chris and Emily, both now 35, remained close as they grew up, moved and married, bound by their rescue of the baby.
Mia, once she learned her story, never forgot them, and after numerous tries over several years managed at last, through the power of the Internet, to track them down. “I didn’t know how they would feel,” she said.
Emily said: “It’s like a miracle. ... My heart is filled now. There was always a little spot missing.”
Chris said: “It’s the best Christmas present I have ever gotten.”
A reunion is being planned so the three can see one another again. Mia, now 20, said she was excited. Chris said:“I just want to give her a hug.”
A year after the saga on that summer afternoon, Emily’s family moved to Pennsylvania. She eventually married, had two kids and got a job driving a school bus. Chris became a computer engineer and also married.
But they always wondered who had left the infant, and why. Both got a letter and a picture of the baby sent by the adoptive mother a year or two after she was found. Emily framed the picture and kept it with her family photos.
Mia had been adopted by a British couple living in suburban Washington. The couple, who asked that their names not be used, had seen the newspaper story about the teens who found the baby and later were contacted by officials asking whether they were interested in adopting her. They were delighted and said that Mia was a joy to raise. But they put off telling her the story of her abandonment, fearing it might upset her.
Mia made the discovery herself. At about 9, she was going through the scrapbook her mother kept about her childhood and found an envelope. Inside was a newspaper story.
At first, Mia said, it bothered her that she had been abandoned, but then she became curious about the two teenagers who had saved her.
She knew their names from the newspaper and said she began trying to find them on Facebook.
On Dec. 1, Mia, a reserved and softspoken junior with dark hair and a tattoo of a bull on her left shoulder, discovered on Facebook a person who looked as though she might be Emily, and also spotted Chris’s name on Emily’s list of friends. This had to be them. And it was.
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Talk about a feel good story, just in time for the holidays.