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She Was Abandoned as a Baby in a Dorm Room. Now She Has Graduated From the Same College

May 31, 2016

Jillian Sobol was found in a cardboard box 31 years ago

Jillian Sobol just graduated from the very same school where she was born.

Sobol, 31, had a tragic start to life when her biological mother gave birth to her on the San Francisco State University campus in 1984, threw the placenta down a trash chute and left her daughter in a cardboard box in a dormitory laundry room, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. After three hours, Esther Wannenmacher, then a 21-year-old nursing student who is now Esther Raiger, helped call an ambulance and bring Sobol to the hospital, where she was later adopted.

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More than 30 years later, Esther Raiger got to watch the baby she’d helped save graduate from the same school where she found her. The full-circle narrative sparked hope in those who’d followed Sobol’s story, but also in Sobol herself. “Hope is the thing I believe my mother had when she made her choice. I’m here today making my own choices,” Sobol wrote in a letter to San Francisco State University President Les Wong.

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Sobol also talked about her birth mother’s role in this accomplishment: “The biggest thing I needed her to know was that I didn’t hate her,” she told the Chronicle. “I wrote her a letter to thank her for giving me the gift of life. And letting her know I was going to [San Francisco] State, and that I had grown up with a wonderful family. And that I hoped to open the lines of communication.”