Pete Mercurio was walking out the door to meet his then-partner (now husband) Danny Stewart for dinner in August 2000 when his phone rang. It was Stewart, calling to say he would be late. He found an abandoned baby in the subway and called 911 from a pay phone.
Stewart, a social worker, discovered a small bundle wrapped in a sweater while walking through an eerily deserted station. At first, he thought it was a doll, perhaps left by a child, until he saw a small moving leg. He quickly discovered it was a newborn baby, the umbilical cord still intact.
Mercurio, the author of a book about this chance encounter, spoke to CNN about that night, and how he and Stewart ended up raising the baby.
“He actually tried to take the express train and couldn’t get on,” Mercurio recalls Stewart’s path on that fateful day. “The fact that he even got on a local is a miracle because who knows if he will get on the express train or if he has even found the baby.”
Mercurio said something that made Stewart look back at the bundle and see the small movement of the infant. The baby, a boy, was still alive and breathing. Authorities said he was only a few hours old when they arrived.
Mercurio ran to the station, a block from his apartment, and found Stewart there with two policemen.
“One of them was holding the baby in his arms,” he said. “Just a chill running down my spine. Like, that’s unbelievable.”
The boy was transported to a nearby hospital, and the men were deeply moved by what had just happened.
“At one point, I just turned to Danny and I said, ‘You will – we will – connect with this baby in one way or another for the rest of your life.” I said, ‘Maybe not tomorrow or next week or a year or five years from now, but eventually he’ll know about this night and he might want to try to find you and maybe we can send a gift or contact him on this day, every year. ‘”
The couple didn’t know what was going to happen.
Best wishes for a smooth adoption
The baby, named Daniel Ace Doe after Stewart and the A/C/E subway line, is in the care of the state while a citywide search is underway to find his parents. little.
Three months later, Stewart was asked to testify in a hearing about the date the child was found. The judge asked him an unexpected question.
“In December 2000, at that hearing, the judge asked him, ‘Do you want to adopt?’ He said, ‘Yes, but I know it’s not that easy.’ She said, ‘Well, maybe.’ We don’t know what she meant by that,” Mercurio said.
The two became adoptive parents of the baby, whom they named Kevin, and adopted the boy in December 2002 two years later.
“And then that was it,” said Mercurio. “We never saw the judge again. And in 2012, when we decided to get married, Kevin walked to school saying he knew there was a judge.” participate in the creation of our family”.
“We shared everything with him, so he knew everything. He said, ‘The judges don’t marry everyone?” So I said, ‘Would you like to see the judge who finalized your adoption?’ And he nodded. And that’s how I got back in touch with the judge, ten years later. “
When the couple spoke to 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 at the time Kevin was found, there was a pilot program in New York that gave her the right to expedite the adoption process in some specific cases were abandoned to bring in a baby. a loving home.
“She can make a quick decision to get that child into foster care as quickly as possible,” says Mercurio. “So he’s not tired of the system.”
That pilot program lasted only six months and was later discontinued, according to Mercurio.
“A lot of little things like that add up without us even knowing it,” says Mercurio.
Kevin is currently a final year university student
At the time Kevin arrived, the couple did not have much money. They were in student loan debt, but they made it. Family and friends had everything they needed for Kevin, and they figured it out along the way.
Kevin, 21 years old, is a student at Swarthmore College. Mercurio is sharing their family’s story with the encouragement of 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 baby more than anything in the world, I really didn’t know this kind of love existed until my son came into our lives. And Danny felt the same way.”
As Kevin grew up, the two discussed their family stories with him.
“We talked about how our family became a family openly in front of him. When he went to social gatherings, [if] Whoever will ask, we haven’t shielded him from hearing that since he was very young,” 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 about him.
Mercurio said: ‘I pasted up a book of his story, which tells the whole story of Danny being on the subway and the baby being found.
Last year, that 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 have yet to be identified, Mercurio says they just feel sorry for them.
“One way or another, it’s a desperate measure to take. And I can only imagine the anguish leaving your child,” he said. “We’ve always told Kevin from a very young age that he was abandoned in love, so that he could be found and cared for. We never used the words abandonment or abandonment. We I said she abandoned you where you can find us.”