In 1998, in Altadena, California, Azita Milanian’s decision to jog, instead of going dancing with friends or even hiking hours earlier, ended up saving Matthew Christian Whitaker’s life, and Ryan Seacrest, after 20 years, brought the two back together to reunite.
Though a run was not what Milanian had planned for her day, it is because of this decision that she jogged past the location where Whitaker was buried in a blue towel with his umbilical cord still attached.
Milanian’s dog smelled Whitaker and started acting weird. Milanian first thought her dog had found a dead animal, but upon further investigation she realized a small baby had been buried alive.
“I went there and heard a noise and … Tango [the dog] was standing exactly over his head and I was saying, ‘Come on, let’s go! What are you looking at?’ And they wouldn’t move and I’m screaming at them and it was a bunch of bushes and suddenly Christian’s feet came out of the ground in front of my feet and I didn’t know it was his feet … so I dragged my dogs to go to the car and put the dogs in the car and God told me you have to go back and I went back and I was standing far away and I’m screaming loud, ‘God what is this? What is this? It’s like a human baby’s feet’ And he started crying and I moved the bushes and I opened the towel and I saw the umbilical cord attached,” Azita continued. “I didn’t even know if it was boy or a girl and he was crying and I brought him out and I dug my nails in his nose and mouth and started taking the dirt out and all I said to you, [Matthew], was ‘Please don’t die. I will never leave you. I love you.’”
After paramedics came, and Whitaker was taken to the hospital, it was decided that the survival of Whitaker was a miracle. Due to the miraculous recovery of Whitaker, he was given the name Baby Christian at the hospital, a name Whitaker is still called.
Azita Milanian went as often as she could to the hospital to visit Whitaker but decided against adopting him since she had been publicly identified as the person who found him, and did not want her identity to be known if she was his adopted mother. Eventually Whitaker was adopted and Milanian was no longer able to visit with Whitaker, but that did not stop Milanian from wanting to be reunited with Whitaker or from caring for others in Whitaker’s same position.
From this experience, Milanian started a nonprofit organization to help orphaned children from around the world called Children of One Planet. When Milanian and Whitaker reunited on Ryan Seacrest’s radio show, On Air with Ryan Seacrest, Whitaker made it known that he wanted to help Azita Milanian with her organization.
Initially, the reason Milanian and Whitaker were able to find each other was through Whitaker taking a 23 and Me DNA kit. Whitaker had gone most of his life not realizing he was adopted. When he was around 19, his grandmother told him the story of the fateful day that Milanian found him. After taking the DNA kit, and getting his story out, Milanian was found and the two were able to reunite after Ryan Seacrest heard about their story and featured them in a recent On Air with Ryan show.
Their reunion, after twenty years, was filled with joy and many tears. Upon first seeing each other, Azita Milanian stated with tears filling her eyes and a smile as wide as one can have, “I was waiting for you. 20 years. You’re exactly what I’ve imagined. I guessed your size, everything. Thank you for coming into my life, you changed my life. … I knew we were going to connect again,” she added. “The day I met him he confirmed my faith … God brought us together for a purpose.”
Though Milanian did not know her run twenty years ago would forever affect her life, that run did, and also forever changed the life of Matthew Christin Whitaker. For now, because of the choices Milanian made that day, Matthew Christian Whitaker has the chance to go to the University of Arizona and the ability to dream of one day becoming an actor or entertainment lawyer.