By Tina Chen
Taya Lee has put out a call on Facebook, searching for the woman who left her on church doorstep 33 years ago. She hasn’t found her birth mother yet, but this week she was thrilled to meet the person she calls her “first friend,” the teenager who found her on the steps and rescued her.
Lee, the mother of her own two children, posted a Facebook photo of herself earlier this month holding a sign with details of the moment she was left on doorstep of St. Edwards Catholic Church in Shelton, Wash. She urged people to share the picture.
An anonymous letter sent to the Shelton Police Department two weeks after she was left on the church steps said the girl’s mother was only 16 years old.
“I know she was 16, she had no job, leaving town, and wanted a better life for me,” Lee told ABC News.
Left on that doorstep, Lee’s cries were heard by then teenager, Stephen Henry, who was passing by. “I could hear it, a baby crying in the distance,” Henry, 47, told ABC News Seattle Affiliate, KOMO News. Following the sound, “I went and found a baby covered up in a basket. I knew I needed to do something about it.”
The baby had a note attached to her stating the infant’s name actually Elizabeth Ann. The note also read, “Please find me a good home and take good care of me.”
“Fun fact,” Lee said. “The note that was left with me looks exactly like my handwriting.”
Henry, 14 at the time, crossed the street and told an adult at Mason County Courthouse. And that was the last time he saw or heard of that abandoned baby until earlier this month.
A Facebook user that Lee knows only as Penny began investigating. She found an article about St. Edwards Catholic Church being torn down in 2009, and it came with a comment by Henry that said, “I found a little baby on the doorstep one morning on my way to school!”
Penny messaged Lee the post. “I freaked out, I started crying,” Lee said.
Lee immediately sent a Facebook friend request to Henry and followed up with a blunt email: “I think you found me on the doorstep.” And he responded, “Yep, I think that was me.”
Lee and Henry met for the first time in 33 years outside his Shelton office on Tuesday.
“I told him ‘You’re stuck with me now, I hope you’re okay with that,” Lee joked when she met with “my first friend,” as Lee called him.
Lee is hopeful that her mother will come forward one day. “I know my own personality, so she’s got to be pretty cool,” Lee said. “I have this gut feeling that I will meet her, not necessarily soon, but someday. I really do truly think that I will meet her,” Lee said.
“I’ve had the urge to learn my medical history, my bloodline, and my ethnicity, just for fun,” Lee said.
Lee has received some scrutiny for using the word “abandoned” on her original Facebook post. Some commenters saying that her birth mom will never come forward because she chose to use a “negative” word. “It’s a feeling that I just can’t shake,” Lee said.
“I hope my birth mom can see past that. I know that she did it in a loving way, leaving me at a church, that obviously good people would find me, and that I know that deep down in my heart,” Lee added. “I just want her to know, ‘It’s okay, I would love to meet you, I would love to learn about you and your family and your life. I respect you for what you did. I hope that you don’t carry any guilt,’” Lee said.