GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The day would come when Angel Thomas would learn she was adopted.
Angel was outside playing with her cousin on her adoptive father’s side.
“Angel and her were out playing, and she said, 'Well Angel, you are not really any kin to us, you're adopted.' So Angel came running in the house and she said, ‘Mama what's adopted?’ And I explained it to her and she said, ‘Well, thanks for loving me,’ and she ran back outside and started playing,” said Carrie Thomas, Angel’s adoptive mother.
All Angel cared about is that somebody loved her.
That hasn’t changed for the Thomas’ little girl who is now a young lady.
“I didn't know everything, but I knew that I had a family that loved me no matter what, even if I wasn't biologically their child. I've always been loved, and when I really accepted that and I really brought that to my heart, there was nothing that could take that away from me,” Angel Thomas said.
Carrie and Daryl were giving Angel a new life, but they didn’t try to erase her past.
They saved news clippings, documents and pictures that captured important details of Angel’s life.
But like any protective parent, they were cautious.
They had to be careful about when and how they told Angel everything.
They had not told her about the circumstances of how she was conceived until it was in the news in 2013.
In April 2013, the Guilford County Sheriff's Office was working a case that was linked to the abandoned baby found on Nov. 12, 1999.
As part of that investigation, the sheriff’s office arrested Michael Wilson - Angel’s biological father.
Wilson was arrested in connection to a sexual assault investigation of a 13-year-old girl.
“I had to put her in counseling to help her get through it, but it was rough. It was really rough for her,” Carrie Thomas said.
Sexual assault victims are not identified by law enforcement or media.
Since then, the victim has come forward as Rochetta Cheek.
Cheek gave birth to Angel when she was 13 years old.
“To the outside, he was this, this great man. But inside the house we was dealing with a monster,” Cheek said.
This is part of our series on Baby Doe.