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GREENSBORO, N.C. — She came into the world as “Baby Doe” on Nov. 12, 1999.

She was a baby girl abandoned under an apartment stairwell at what was then known as Carolina Circle Apartments.

Her story made headlines across the Piedmont.

Carrie Thomas remembers watching the story on the news.

“First of all I was thankful that they found the baby and that she was alright,” Thomas said.

It was a miracle the baby survived.

She was found by strangers.

When taken to Women’s Hospital, it was determined that she had moderate to severe hypothermia.

Little did Thomas know, the baby girl she heard about on the news, would become a big part of her life.

A social worker reached out to her because Thomas was a foster parent at the time.

The initial plan was to place “Baby Doe” into a home for 30 days where she would eventually have the opportunity to become adopted.

“I didn’t feel like I would adopt her until I held her in my arms. I picked her up Dec. 19 and the day I held her in my arms, I knew she would never leave my house,” Thomas said.

Thomas adopted the baby, who was named Caroline, at 6 weeks old.

But Thomas thought a different name was better suited for Caroline.

“I felt like the angels were watching over her that day, so that’s why I named her Angel,” she said.

Angel Thomas is now 17 years old.

Wednesday was the first time she returned to the apartment complex where she was found, which is now Ashleigh Park Apartments.

It was overwhelming emotionally – bringing her to tears.

“I knew I would come here one day and I’m here,” she said. “There [are] people I don’t know, there’s other family that are probably like ‘What happened to this little girl?’ so I shouldn’t just hide myself.”

Despite having a rough start in life, Angel has found her wings and is soaring.

“I wasn’t supposed to make it, but I did, and because I did, I feel like I have to share this story,” she said.

Angel is a 4.0 rising senior at Andrews High School in its Aviation Academy. She dreams of becoming a commercial pilot.

She is a member of The National Honor Society, Upward Bound and Smart Girls Leadership Academy. She also enjoys robotics.

She plans to attend college in Florida, but before she goes away to school, she has one wish.

She wants to meet the mother and son who found her.

“They saved my life. I almost died. They saved my life and that’s a blessing within itself. I feel like I have to. I really want to,” she said.

In the meantime, Thomas hopes her story will encourage others.

“I feel like if I can motivate other people, then I’m doing something right,” she said.