“I really want them to know how thankful I am,” Amanda Jones told “Good Morning America.” “The person who found me is the only person who knows exactly how I was found and I would really like to know exactly how I was found.”
Jones, now a 36-year-old mother of three, was known as “Jan Winter” after she was discovered in a dumpster in a commercial area of Atlanta in January 1983. From what she knows, she was found shortly after birth with her umbilical cord tied off.
Jones then became a ward of the state and was placed in foster care before being adopted at age 1. The adoption agency gave her adoptive parents a Parade magazine that included a mention of “Baby Jan Winter” being found abandoned at a dumpster.
“Through my life, my mother, to tell me my story, referred back to that article,” Jones said. “Years ago I moved and lost that Parade magazine and it was the only thing I had left of my story.”
Jones said she never considered doing a DNA test to find her birth family because she did not think she would get any results. Her sister-in-law though this year gave her a 23andMe ancestry kit.
Through that testing she was able to identify cousins and a great aunt and ultimately her birth parents, who are both still alive and living in Georgia, according to Jones.
Jones said she reached out to her birth father through a letter but has not received a response. She has spoken to her birth mother by phone but the two “have not forged a relationship.”
“I just want to put it out there that my forgiveness is there,” Jones said. “Through my anger I have to remember that she made the best decision for me.”
“Thank goodness she did what she did because who knows what my life would have been had she made different choices,” she added.
Jones, who grew up with an adopted sister, has shared the process of looking for her birth family and rescuers with her parents, both of whom Jones said are still alive and very supportive of her efforts.
She said that growing up as an adopted child made her realize that “family does not always mean blood,” which led her to turn to Facebook to try to find the people who first found her at the dumpster.
“These people are like family to me,” she said. “They probably just went on with their day and their lives but they’ve been instrumental in my story.”
Jones posted a photo of herself and one of her as a baby and a news clipping about her birth on Facebook with the caption, “Hi! My name is Amanda Jones. I am trying to find the person/people who potentially saved my life. I was abandoned as an infant at the Prado Business Mall at 5600 Roswell Rd (in Atlanta/Sandy Springs, GA) in January of 1983. If you have any information, please contact me at email@example.com or on FaceBook. Thank You!!!”
Jones said she only had 52 friends on Facebook at the time she posted but since she still lives in Georgia, as do most of her friends, she thought someone may be able to help. The post has since been shared more than 300 times.
It has also caught the attention of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution and other local news outlets that have been able to help Jones access the police report from her birth and put in her touch with first responders.
Since the police report is more than three decades old, parts of it are too blurry to read, according to Jones. From what she can make out, someone from either a cleaning crew or a pizzeria went to throw something out in the dumpster and saw Jones.
From there she was taken inside a nearby building and attended to by paramedics and brought to a nearby hospital. A responding police officer Jones has connected with since her Facebook post told Jones she was placed in an incubator for a week.
The police officer told Jones she came to visit her everyday in the hospital.
“That call was very emotional,” Jones said. “I told my parents I woke up the next morning and felt like a 36 year burden had been lifted off my chest because I finally knew part of my story.”
Jones also just received a Facebook message Tuesday night from one of the paramedics who took her to the hospital.
“My baby was asleep and I was in the closet crying because I didn’t want to make too much noise,” Jones said of her reaction. “I didn’t even open the message until I called my dad because I wanted him to feel the same feelings too.”
As Jones continues her search for the person or people who first spotted her that January night, she said she is willing to keep their details private, even though her search is now public.
"Anyone who has anything to do with my story, whether it be a relative or the person who found me, if they say they don’t want me to share their name or be public, I will absolutely make sure they remain private," she said.
Jones credits Facebook support groups and her family with giving her the courage and the tenacity to continue her search so she can say thank you and fill in the details of her birth.
"Here we are 36 years later and a lot of people wouldn’t have made that decision, they may have walked away," she said of her rescuers. "And considering my circumstances, I’ve done pretty well [in life]."
No matter the outcome, Jones, a stay-at-home mom, said she wants to use her experience to push for legislation that would make it easier for adoptees to access things like police reports and their parents' medical histories.
"What I love about this is I’m giving adoptees a voice," she said.