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 wondered what became of the infant and why they were in the right place at the right time on that fateful morning.
Behind a 1982 Kansas City Star article yellowed with time is the story Hopkins and Whisnant have told time and time again.
“We woke up one morning. I just bought a new Jeep and a new snow plow,” Hopkins said. “There was 33 inches of snow on the ground or something like that, and it was 10 degrees below zero,” said Hopkins, who decided he and Whisnant would shovel the driveway.
At a friend’s home nearby, Hopkins said he was paying attention to the snow as Whisnant took a piece of land. Then Whisnant noticed something moving on the porch.
“My peripheral vision saw movement, but there was nobody there. There was nothing moving except in peripheral vision, so I turned and looked and there it was just moving almost like a metronome,” Whisnant said. “So we got out of the car and walked over to the front porch, and there in a box is this wrapped bundle with a note attached to it.”
Inside, the men saw a baby bundled in a green snow suit who was still warm and smiling despite the frigid temperatures.
There was nothing to identify her, just a note saying she could no longer be cared for.
With the help of the house owners, the men called the police and eventually the child was handed over to child protection.
Years later, Hopkins and Whisnant said they have 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? Isn’t she? Is she a president? Is she a janitor?” Hopkins said.
Decades later, Tyra Pearl came across an old Facebook post Hopkins shared in search of her.
Although she had learned years before that she had been abandoned as a baby, she had recently reconnected with her biological family and stumbled upon a recent article in the Kansas City Star, in which Hopkins asked where she had ended up.
“I never intended to find them,” said Pearl.
With the help of her brother, Pearl, who learned her birth name was Shawntell Anderson, contacted Hopkins and Whisnant.
Finally, with the help of Murray Media, the three arranged a long-awaited reunion in Dallas.
“Tears, tears, lots of tears. I mean, this man saved my mind. Like he hadn’t noticed this box that was on the stairs, or he’d just said, ‘Oh, I’ll get on with my business’ I wanted dead,” said Pearl. “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 has raised with a grandson.
Although 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 going 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.'”