A man found an abandoned baby on a subway. It led to an unexpected family and a great children’s story
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Pete Mercurio was going out to meet his then partner (now husband) Danny Stewart for dinner in August 2000 when his phone rang. It was Stewart, calling him to tell him he would be late. He had found an abandoned baby in the subway and called 911 from a phone booth.
Stewart, a social worker, had spotted a small package wrapped in a sweatshirt as he walked through a strangely empty train station. At first he thought it was a doll, maybe left by a child, until he saw a small leg move. He quickly discovered that it was a newborn baby with the umbilical cord still attached.
Mercurio, who has written a book about the chance encounter, spoke to CNN about that night and how he and Stewart ended up raising the baby as theirs.
“He had actually tried to get on an express train and couldn’t,” Mercurio recalls of Stewart’s run that fateful day. “The fact that he even got on a local was a little miraculous because who knows if he had taken an express if he had even found the baby.”
Mercurio says something prompted Stewart to take a look at the package and see the newborn baby’s little movement. The baby, a boy, was alive and breathing. Authorities said he only had a few hours when they arrived.
Mercurio ran to the station, one block from his apartment, and found Stewart there with two police officers.
“One of them was carrying the baby in his arms,” he said. “Just a shiver ran through my spine. Like, it’s an amazing thing.”
The little boy was transported to a nearby hospital and the men were overcome with emotion by what had just happened.
“At one point I turned to Danny and said, ‘You’re going to be – we’re going to be – connected to this baby somehow for the rest of your life.’ I said, ‘Maybe not tomorrow or next week or in a year or five years, but eventually he will learn the story of that night and he might want to try to find you and maybe we will be able to send a gift or be in touch with him on this day, every year. ‘”
The couple had no idea what was going to happen.
A fluke made the adoption process easier
The baby, who was named Daniel Ace Doe in honor of Stewart and the A / C / E subway line, was in state custody as a citywide search was underway to locate the boy’s parents.
Three months later, Stewart was invited to testify at a hearing on the day the baby was found. The judge asked him an unexpected question.
“In December 2000, during this hearing, the judge asked him: ‘Would you be interested in adopting? He said, ‘Yeah, but I know it’s not that easy.’ She said, ‘Well it can be.’ We didn’t know what she meant by that, ”says Mercurio.
The two became adoptive parents of the baby, whom they named Kevin, and adopted him two years later, in December 2002.
“And then that was it. We never saw the judge again. And in 2012 when we decided to get married, Kevin on a walk to school said he knew there was had a judge involved in creating our family, ”Mercurio said.
“We shared everything with him, so he knew everything. He said, ‘Don’t judges marry people?’ So I said, ‘Do you want to meet the judge who finalized your adoption?’ And he nodded. And that’s how I got in touch with the judge again, ten years later.
When the couple spoke with the judge, they asked her how she was able to help facilitate Kevin’s adoption so quickly.
In one of the many little miracles that brought Kevin to them, the judge said that by the time Kevin was found there was a pilot program in New York that gave him the power to speed up the adoption process. in specific cases of abandonment to place a baby in a loving home.
“She was able to make quick decisions to get this baby into a pre-adoption home as quickly as possible,” says Mercurio. “So he wasn’t languishing in the system.”
This pilot program only lasted six months and was then discontinued, according to Mercurio.
“So many little things like this have been added without our knowledge,” Mercurio says.
Kevin is now a senior in college
By the time Kevin arrived, the couple didn’t have much money. They were in debt for a student loan, but they made it work. Family and friends got them everything they needed for Kevin, and they figured it out along the way.
Kevin, now 21, is a student at Swarthmore College. Mercurio shares their family story with encouragement from Kevin and Stewart, but they declined to be interviewed.
“We still can’t believe it. I mean, we believe it because we have a 21-year-old who is graduating from college this spring,” Mercurio said. “I love this kid more than anything, I really didn’t know that kind of love existed in this world until my son came into our lives. And Danny feels the same.”
As Kevin grew up, the two discussed their family history with him.
“We talked about how our family became a family openly in front of him. When he went to social gatherings, [if] anyone would ask, we didn’t stop him from hearing it from an early age, ”said Mercurio.
They wanted Kevin to feel positive about their family origin story, so Mercurio wrote a book about it that they read to him every night. When he was five, Kevin realized it was him.
“I pasted a book of his story, which tells all about Danny being in the subway and the baby found,” Mercurio says.
Last year this very personal story was published under the title “Our Subway Baby”, which Mercurio calls a “love letter to our son”.
While Kevin’s biological parents are still unknown, Mercurio says they only feel compassion for them.
“Either way, this is a desperate step to take. And I can only imagine the anguish that was leaving your child,” he said. “We always told Kevin from an early age that he was abandoned for love, so that he could be found and healed. We never used the word abandon or forsaken. We said she brought you on. left where you could be found by us. “
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