Two decades ago, Azita Milanian was out for a jog in Altadena, California, with her dogs when one of the pooches stumbled upon what she initially believed was a dead animal. Instead, it was a newborn baby wrapped in a towel with its umbilical cord still attached.
The baby, just hours old, had been buried alive.
“I was shocked and scared. I was angry at the person who did that to him,” Milanian tells PEOPLE. The boy was taken to a local hospital and eventually placed for adoption. But Milanian says she never stopped thinking about the baby.
“I always knew I would find him,” she says. “I always knew we’d get together again.”
She was right. Milanian and the boy, now 20-year-old Matthew Whitaker, reunited on May 18th.
It all began when the mother of one of Whitaker’s friends wrote to the KIIS FM radio station and explained his story, according to the Los Angeles Times. One of the show’s producers read a 1998 Times story about Whitaker and decided to bring him and Milanian together.
They met with tears and hugs last week during On Air with Ryan Seacrest. “I had prayed for this moment for 20 years,” she tells PEOPLE of the reunion. “It was overwhelming to know that God answered my prayers.”
Now, Milanian says she and Whitaker plan to stay in touch.
“He texts me and we’ve talked a couple times since we met. He says he wants to help me with Save the Children,” she tells PEOPLE, referring to her non-profit organization founded to help orphaned children. “He’s kind, he’s quiet and reserved.”
Whitaker, who plans to study journalism at the University of Arizona, says he harbors no negative feelings about the person who buried him, he told the Times.
“If this was your best idea, to leave me here, then thanks. Because you weren’t mentally fit to raise a child,” he told the publication. He and Milanian went to the hiking trail where he was found all those years ago. They looked through a fence at the spot where he nearly died.
“This could have been my grave,” he told the Times.
Milanian chimed in: “You were wanted.”