It’s a morning that has haunted a Dallas couple for more than 40 years, the day they found a baby abandoned in the snow in Kansas City.
Until recently, Bob Hopkins and his partner Bob Whisnant have been left to wonder what became of the infant and why they were in the right place at that right time that fateful morning.
Behind a 1982 Kansas City Star article yellowed with time is the story Hopkins and Whisnant have recounted time and time again.
“We woke up one morning. I just bought a new Jeep and a new snowplow,” said Hopkins. “It was 33 inches of snow on the ground or something like that and it was 10 below zero,” said Hopkins, who decided he and Whisnant were gonna shovel the driveway.
At a nearby friend’s home, Hopkins said he was paying attention to the snow as Whisnant took in a lay of the land. Then, Whisnant noticed something moving on the back porch.
“My peripheral vision saw movement, but there was no one there. There was nothing moving except in my peripheral vision and so I turned and looked and there it was just moving almost like a metronome,” said Whisnant. “So we got out of the car, and went over to the porch, and there in a box is this wrapped bundle with a note pinned to it.”
Inside, the men saw a baby bundled in a green snowsuit still warm and smiling despite the frigid temperatures.
There was nothing to identify her, only a note saying she could no longer be cared for.
With help from the homeowners, the men called the police and eventually, the child was handed over to Child Protective Services.
Years later, Hopkins and Whisnant said they’ve often shared the story with friends and students, wondering where she is now.
“What happened to this little girl? Who took her in? Is she alive? Is she not? Is she a president? Is she a janitor?” said Hopkins.
Four decades later, Tyra Pearl came across an old Facebook post that Hopkins shared searching for her.
Though she’d learned years before that she’d been abandoned as a baby, she’d recently connected with her biological family and stumbled upon a more recent article in the Kansas City Star, in which Hopkins questioned where she’d ended up.
“It never crossed my mind to find them,” said Pearl.
With the help of her brother, Pearl, who learned her birth name was Shawntell Anderson, contacted Hopkins and Whisnant.
Eventually, with the help of Murray Media, the three arranged a long overdue reunion in Dallas.
“Tears, tears, lots of tears. I mean, this man saved my mind. Like had he not paid attention to this box that was on the stairs, or had he just said, ‘Oh, I’ll go on about my business,’ I would have died,” Pearl said. “It sounds corny, but that’s my hero.’
At their meeting, Pearl told the men about her happy childhood, successful career, upcoming wedding and the two children she’s raised along with a grandchild.
Though she never got the chance to meet her birth mother, Pearl said there was no ill will.
“She did what she did. She felt it was best. And in reality, I’ve lived a better life probably because of what she did,” she said.
It’s a better life that was, in part, because of the role Hopkins and Whisnant played that day and one they hope they can continue to have moving forward.
“I said to her when we left, ‘Is this the end of our story?’” Hopkins said. “And we both looked at each other and said, ‘I hope not.’”