“I was born to be here.”
Probably the best quote you can have when you’re Jillian Sobol. The 31-year-old just graduated from San Francisco State University with a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management. Graduating from college is an accomplishment in it of itself, but that’s not what makes this story so crazy.
Over 3 decades ago Jillian was abandoned by her birth parents and left right out front of the same University she’s graduating from.
“I’m a graduate now, it’s amazing,” she said. “I tried my hardest to let my birth and those circumstances be those secondary effects because it was about me getting a education and setting out to do what I wanted to do.”
Sobol’s biological mother placed her in a cardboard box and left her in the campus laundry room hoping someone else would take her.
By the grace of God a woman named Esther who also happened to be pursuing a nursing degree found her in the laundry room that day.
“I wasn’t crying, so she knew that could be an issue,” Sobol said. “I found it very heartwarming that she was a nursing student who just took some classes handling newborns. It was interesting because it caused a stir of well, ‘Who was the mom?'” Sobol said. “It took a while for them to find the placenta, which she dropped in the garbage chute.”
Her birth mom, who was also a student at SFSU, was tracked down after she claimed she concealed her pregnancy. Even the father had no idea Sobol was born. No charges were pressed against the biological parents because Sobol was placed in an area to be found.
San Fransisco named Baby Jane Doe and she was later adopted by a woman named Helene who knew from the moment she saw her that she wanted to adopt her.
“When I saw Jill’s picture in the San Francisco paper, I immediately said, ‘This is our baby,'” Helene Sobol said. “I did know that we were on the list with the social services department. A week or so later, our social worker called me and said, ‘We have a baby for you.’ I said, ‘I’m not surprised, you’re confirming my intuition.’ It was the most amazing phone call.”
Helene was always upfront about Sobol and her adoption process, to the point where she ended up tracking down her biological father and even met him in person. She’s connected with the mother as well but they haven’t made any arrangements to meet.
“Right now, it’s about me and graduating,” Sobol said. “I think it helped, going through this.”
“Jillian’s story is one of amazing resilience and courage, traveling full circle from the beginning of her life here on campus and culminating in Commencement, surrounded by her SF State family and friends,” SFSU’s president, Les Wong told ABC News. “Jillian’s strength and determination will be her armor as she moves forward into the world.”
Against the odds and abandoned, Sobol made it to the stage and now she wants to spend her life helping others plan theirs.