Tonie McNair’s son, Willie Baldwin, saw something on TV that seemed familiar—it was about a baby who had been abandoned. When he told her what he had seen, she knew to contact the TV station.
On Nov. 12, 1999, McNair was coming back from work when she thought she heard the sound of a kitten outside her apartment. But when she found the source of the sound, she realized that it wasn’t a kitten, but a baby, wrapped in a sheet underneath a stairwell.
“I saw the umbilical cord wrapped up under her arm, so I ran back into the house screaming and hollering,” McNair told Fox8.
Her two sons, Willie and Ricky, who were inside the house at the time, ran out to see what was going on.
“We saw her out there wrapped, we were like, ‘Oh my God,’ I called the police and the ambulance,” Willie Baldwin told the media.
When the ambulance came and took the baby, which they called Baby Doe, to the hospital, it was in very poor condition. Luckily, she survived.
Once Baby Doe was recovering, a social worker put her in the care of Carrie Thomas, a foster parent. At six weeks, Baby Doe was adopted by Thomas, who instantly took a liking to the baby as soon as she held Baby Doe.
“I didn’t feel like I would adopt her until I held her in my arms,” Thomas said, “I picked her up Dec. 19, and the day I held her in my arms, I knew she would never leave my house.”
Initially named Caroline after the Carolina Circle Apartments where she was found, she was given a new name by Thomas and her husband—Angel.
“I felt like the angels were watching over her that day, so that’s why I named her Angel,” Thomas said.
Although McNair was only part of Angel’s life for a brief moment, she always wondered how the baby she found outside her apartment was. McNair never stopped thinking about Angel, even after a decade had passed.
“I will never forget it and I always wondered what happened to her. I always wondered,” McNair said.
Angel lived a wonderful life as Angel Thomas, with her foster parents taking care of her, despite her shaky beginnings.
“I always said that before I laid down and died that I hoped that she was safe,” McNair told Fox8.
As Angel grew older, she realized how much she wanted to meet the people who saved her.
“They saved my life. I almost died,” Angel said. “They saved my life and that’s a blessing within itself. I feel like I have to. I really want to.”
As Angel Thomas started her senior year in high school, the local news did a story on her. McNair saw this as a chance to finally reconnect with the woman she saved.
A few days after, the two families met outside the building where McNair found Angel Thomas in November 1991. Angel Thomas was finally able to meet the people who had saved her life 17 years ago.
So thankful that I was allowed to share this story once again. For 18 years this has been my reality, and an overall…
“It’s just crazy to think that people who never knew me or knew me for just a split second of my life still thought about me 17 years later,” she said.
“It’s a blessing to see her, how she is today,” Ricky Baldwin said.
Angel Thomas’s mother, said, “it feels great to see the pieces of her life finally come together.”
Her father said he was grateful that McNair was there that fateful day, and he was grateful that McNair’s sons were there to help as well.
The two families promised that they would stay in contact.
In addition to reconnecting with the family that saved her, Angel Thomas also reconnected with her birth mother, Rochetta Cheek. Cheek explained that she was raped when she was 13, and the man who assaulted her took her daughter away from her.
“All I can do is thank God,” Cheek said.
In 2018, Angel Thomas graduated from high school and had a large crowd cheering for her as she walked across the stage to receive her diploma. Not only was her family present, but McNair and Rochetta Cheek were also there as well.
Angel Thomas, as an honors student, planned to attend college in Florida to pursue her dream of becoming a commercial pilot and fixed-based operator manager.