A gay couple found a baby boy abandoned on the subway. Now, he’s their son

On 28 August 2000, just as the chaos of New York city’s rush hour was starting to settle down, Danny Stewarts, life was about to take a massive shift when something lying on the ground caught his eye. Little did he know that the ‘something’ was a baby abandoned on the subway of 14th Street station in the Chelsea district of Manhattan.

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Finding a baby abandoned on the subway

Danny recalled, “I noticed on the floor tucked up against the wall what I thought was a baby doll.” But a strong sense roared inside him, making him take another look as he went past. “I glanced back one more time, and that’s when I noticed his legs moved.” He then realized that this was not a doll but a tiny baby boy! “He didn’t have any clothes on; he was just wrapped up in this sweatshirt. His umbilical cord was still partially intact, so I could tell he was a newborn. I was thinking maybe a day or so old.”

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The whole situation was so surreal; he couldn’t believe what he found. It was such a shock. He tried to get someone’s attention to help him and shouted “Please, call the police,” but was ignored. Mobile phones weren’t as common at the time, so getting help was easier said than done.[1]

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Going against all instinct to not leave the baby, he charged up the stairs to find a payphone to dial 911 to alert the police and then ran back to check the baby was okay.

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I’m sure it was just a few minutes, but time was standing still as my heart was racing. I thought, well they probably think this is a prank call and they’re probably not believing me, so somebody else needs to call, and that’s when I thought of Pete.”

Danny

An unexpected turn of events

Before these events began to unroll, Danny was on his way to meet his boyfriend, Pete, for dinner. Oddly he didn’t take his usual route; it seemed like fate. Danny ran back to the payphone once more to call Pete, “Once again, I blurted out, ‘I found a baby. I don’t think the police, believe me, so call them please right now.‘” Pete was initially worried about Danny because he had not shown up for dinner, but after hearing that he found a baby abandoned on the subway, he rushed to the station to be with him.[2]

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I remember turning to Danny and saying to him on the sidewalk as the police car was driving away, ‘You know, you’re going to be connected to that baby in some way for the rest of your life.”

Pete

News quickly spread about Danny and the baby abandoned on the subway. After the event, Danny and Pete slipped back to their usual lives. Danny is a social worker, and Pete a playwright and web designer. However, in Dec 2000, Danny was asked by the Administration for Children’s Services to participate at a family court hearing to testify how he had found the baby. He was addressed by the judge:[1]

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Mr. Stewart, I want to let you know what’s happening here; in instances where we have a baby that has been abandoned, we want to place them in pre-adoptive foster care as quickly as possible. Would you be interested in adopting this baby? I think most of the mouths dropped in the courtroom, including mine. I said, ‘Yes, but I don’t think it’s that easy,‘ but the judge smiled and said, ‘Well, it can be.'”

Danny

Read: Lesbian couple adopts three separated brothers so they can grow up together

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Adopting the baby abandoned on the subway

The whole process took around nine months to complete. After much emotional upheaval Pete was still unsure this was what he wanted. There were many reasons, from financial to emotional but, in the end this baby was really meant to be with them. Pete’s turning point was when he held the baby for the first time “an instant wave of warmth” came over him, he says.[2]

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Pete, Danny, and their adopted Son as an infant. The two men are bottle feeding their son Kevin.
Peter Mercurio

He was just staring up at me, and I was just looking at him, and it was almost like he found a pressure point in my finger that just opened up my heart to my head and showed me in that moment that I could be one of his parents, one of his dads. So this was just sort of a weird way of their baby Kevin coming back to them again as a grandchild from their gay son.”

Pete

They decided to name him Kevin after the child that Pete’s mom had lost at birth. It was a special tribute that meant a great deal to his mother. Kevin came to live with Danny and Pete on the 22nd of December 2000. Even though the adoption process was delayed by the 9/11 disaster, the adoption was finally completed on 17 December 2002.

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Read: Kindergarten teacher keeps teaching from hospital room while undergoing chemotherapy

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A book for kevin

Kevin loved books. So, that inspired Pete to make a book for him about the story of how he came into their lives. “It was his favorite,” says Pete. Kevin even took it to school for show and tell when he understood this story was about him.  Of course, Kevin was curious about his biological family, but this seemed to fade away as he grew older. In 2011 New York had become the sixth state in the US to legalize gay marriage. And, to give this story a full circle meaning, who else but the judge who was integral in the adoption, would be the judge to marry them too![1]

This woman, the very reason we’re a family, is once again, the very reason we’re getting married. It was like coming full circle.”

Danny
Pete, Danny, and their adopted son Kevin.
Peter Mercurio

Now at 20 years old, Kevin is studying mathematics and computer science at college. The tiny baby abandoned on the subway is now over six feet tall and taller than his dad’s. This family spends time together visiting national parks and exploring the great outdoors.

I can’t imagine my life if it didn’t turn out this way. My life has become much more enriched and fuller. It has changed my world view, my perspective, my whole lens.”

Danny

As unimaginable it may have been 20 years ago at the thought of becoming parents, it is even more so to think about not being parents. I did not know that this level of deep love existed in the world. Until my son came into my life.”

Pete

Pete has written a children’s book about their family’s story called “Our Subway Baby

Pete, Danny, and their adopted son Kevin on a hike. A river can be seen in the background.
Peter Mercurio

Keep Reading: Yes, they’re twins! One black, one white: ‘What’s important is love’

Sources:

  1. We found a baby on the subway – now he’s our son’. BBC. Lucy Wallis. April 4th, 2021.
  2. We found an abandoned baby on the NYC subway and it changed our lives forever. NY Post.  Hannah Frishberg. April 5th, 2021.
Jade Small
Freelance Writer
Jade is a freelance writer and content creator from South Africa with over 7 years of experience writing and creating. She's also a proud single mom to a super 13-year-old boy.
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