Washington - Beryl Wright was scrubbing her hands at the sink when she spotted it on the cold floor of the public restroom: a blue and white checkered bundle. It was completely still. As she would recount years later, Wright assumed it was just a discarded rag.
It was the afternoon of April 10, 1986, inside the busy hive of Gatwick Airport, London. Wright, a sales assistant at the terminal's duty-free store, followed her curiosity and pulled back the blanket. Inside was a newborn baby boy.
Police, social workers and airport employees were soon on the scene with the abandoned child, who was determined by doctors to be about 10 days old. According to the Guardian, a social worker wrapped the cold baby in her scarf.
The child's clothes were wet, so the airport's public relations staff used their tea money to buy him a new romper. A police sergeant and father of three bought milk to feed the baby, and even offered to take him home if the mother and father never materialized.
No one came forward. Instead, newspaper headlines across England began filling up with stories about the orphaned newborn. They dubbed him "Gary Gatwick" after the airport's teddy-bear mascot. The boy was bundled off to foster care. For the next 20 years, as Wright would later say, she did not go a day without thinking about what happened to the little boy she discovered alone in the bathroom.
The details of the day would also eventually hound the boy himself, who was adopted by a local couple and christened Steve Hydes. After growing up in a loving household, and starting his own family with a partner, Hydes decided around 2004 to launch his own effort to fill in the blank spots of his backstory.
"I want [my mother] to know that I'm not angry with her and there will be no publicity if she comes forward," Hydes told the Guardian in 2011. "But there are so many things I'd like to ask her, and so much I'd like to know about my background."
After years of false starts and frustrating dead-ends, Hydes announced earlier this month he had discovered his birth parents. On a Facebook page set up to document his search, Hydes said genealogical research had led to the breakthrough.
In 2010, Hydes published an open letter to his mystery mother in a tabloid, the Guardian reported. It was a Hail Mary, a hope to finally nudge the woman to step forward.
"Of course I realise that she's gone to a lot of trouble to stay hidden, both at the time and over the years," Hydes told the Guardian a year later. "But times change, and circumstances change. It could be that, while she couldn't acknowledge me in the past, she can now - or in the future."
The letter did not get a reply.
Scientific strides would end up furnishing Hydes with his answer. According to his Facebook post, genetic genealogists - the same group of analysts who have helped solve so many cold cases in recent years - eventually tracked down his birth family.
Although his mother has passed away, Hydes was able to connect with his birth father and siblings from both parents, "who were all unaware of my existence," he wrote.
However, the details of how he ended up abandoned in an airport bathroom on that day in 1986 are still unknown, he acknowledged.The Washington Post