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25 years later, baby found in dumpster finds family

A young man rescued from a dumpster as a baby is finally meeting with the police officer who found him and saved his life
Man abandoned as a baby reunited with his rescuer 00:51

SANTA ANA, Calif. -- It was November 1989, when a premature baby was found behind a trash bin in a Santa Ana alley after neighbors heard crying.

Newspaper headlines talked about the discovery as the Southland embraced the infant named "Baby Adam" by Michael Buelna, the police officer who found him.

"And I moved some of the trash, and I saw the little baby," Buelna said. "And I was kind of shocked at first because it's kind of hard to grasp what I was seeing."

robin barton michael buelna
Robin Barton, left, and Michael Buelna CBS Los Angeles

Buelna picked up the baby, breathed into its little lungs and ran to a nearby paramedic for help, who had a question. "You just had a baby; what are you doing to name him?"

"Adam," Buelna said. "Because Adam was always one of my favorite names."

Buelna went on to have a long career in law enforcement, but he always wondered what happened to that baby in the dumpster.

This week, 25 years later, the two reunited for the first time, the officer and the young man now named Robin Barton, and they spoke with CBS Los Angeles.

"Nice. Wonderful to finally have met you, to see the man who found me first," Barton said.

That story alone is enough, but there's more to this tale, a special bond shared by these two that no one could really understand.

Coincidentally, Buelna and four siblings also were abandoned as children by his mother in a twist of fate that led to a life-changing discovery in that Santa Ana alley.

"I spent over 20 years looking for my mother," Buelna said. Now, he's going to help Barton find his. And as a former officer, he has resources to help in the search.

And Barton knows exactly what he want to say to his mother if and when he finds her.

"I don't blame her, and I'm not angry or upset with her. And that I do forgive her," Barton said.

Police did find and arrest Barton's birth mother, who spent several years in prison before being deported.

He does have one clue in his search: Her name was Sabrina Fabiola Diaz, and she would be 45 now.

Barton and Buelna's meeting also led to another reunion. CBS Los Angeles reports Barton's biological father, Marcos Meza, heard about the two meeting for the first time, and stepped forward.

"Many people told me- he looks like you, the nose, the ears, everything. He looks like you," Meza said.

After Robin was found near the dumpster, a judge terminated Meza's parental rights. He never got to meet his son or hold him. He didn't even know his name until this week when he saw Barton reuniting with his rescuer.

Meza says he had five daughters and a big family - they always knew about Barton but they couldn't find him.

The adoption records had been sealed but Meza says that after Barton's story aired last week, his phone began ringing off the hook.

"It's like a dream? Or what?," he said.

Barton said his new large family might take some getting used to.

"I was raised as an only child, so this is more of a shock," he said.

They all agreed to spend more family time when they could.

"I want to try and talk like father and son, if he says it's okay," said Meza.

Barton said he was cool with that. If it's one thing he's learned in life, he told CBS Los Angeles, it was to be grateful - for the officer who saved him, his adopted parents and the family who raised him.

And now, too, for the family he's just met.

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