An Abandoned Subway Baby Made Them a Family

If you have ever ridden the New York City subway, you know it can be a weird experience. You never know what you will see or find below the bustling streets of the city. However, when social worker Danny Stewart headed to the subway to meet his boyfriend, he found something that changed his life.

Subway / Danny Stewart, Kevin, Peter Mercurio / Peter Mercurio, Kevin, Danny Stewart / Newspaper Clipping.
Source: Pinterest

Danny and his boyfriend, Peter Mercurio, had been dating for three years and were living together. They had talked about starting a family one day, but Stewart never imagined a subway ride would give them that opportunity. On August 28, 2000, Danny and Peter’s lives changed forever.

It Started Like Any Other Night

On August 28, 2000, Danny Stewart left work to meet up with his boyfriend, Peter Mercurio, for dinner. It was around 8 PM, and Danny headed down to the subway heading south. He had had a long day at his job as a social worker and was looking forward to spending quality time with Peter.

An image of people waiting to board a subway train.
Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

Danny and Peter had been dating for three years and were living together in Peter’s apartment. Peter was a writer and graphic designer. The couple often went to dinner after work, so it was a night like any other. However, when Danny got off the subway, he noticed something strange.

A Bundle on the Ground

When Danny got off at the 14th Street station, he saw a bundle on the ground against a wall. He could see two little legs sticking out from the sweatshirt it was wrapped in. Initially, Danny thought a child had left their doll behind. But as he got closer, he saw the legs were moving.

Pete, Kevin, and Danny take a picture together.
Source: Pinterest

He rushed over to inspect the sweatshirt and saw that it was a baby. Danny checked to see if the baby was breathing and in good condition. The baby’s umbilical cord was still intact, so he must have been a newborn. He thought the baby could be injured.

No One Would Help

Danny tried to get other people’s attention, but everyone ignored him. It was later in the evening, so there weren’t many people going through the station. In 2000, he didn’t have a cellphone to call 911. There was a payphone on the street, so he ran up to call the authorities.

A photo of the stairs leading to the subway at night.
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

He called 911, saying, “I’ve found a baby.” Danny returned to the station to wait with the baby after he got off the phone. He felt like time was standing still, and it seemed like it was taking a while for the police to arrive. Danny quickly ran back to the phone to call Peter.

Not Far From Home

When Peter answered the phone, he could hear the panic in Danny’s voice. He knew Danny wouldn’t joke around about finding a baby. Peter’s apartment was only a block from the station, so he went down to help because it would be faster than calling the police again.

A dated picture of Peter and Danny at home.
Source: Pinterest

By the time Peter got to the station, the police had arrived. He and Danny watched as the police carried the baby out of the station, but the ambulance took a while to arrive. The officers decided to transport the baby in their car because the ambulance was delayed.

The End of the Story?

When the car drove away, Peter turned to Danny and said, “You know, you’re going to be connected to that baby for the rest of your life. Someday he’s going to learn about this night, and he may want to meet the person who found him.”

A picture of Danny and Peter feeding baby Kevin at the hospital.
Source: Pinterest

The following day, Danny went to the hospital to see how the baby was doing. The nurse told him that only family members were allowed, so he left. Danny thought that was the end of the story, and the baby would go into foster care or be given to a family member.

A Surprising Call

The baby had been born on the day Danny found him. They thought they would never hear about the baby again, but Danny got a call from Children’s Services six weeks later. He was asked to testify at a hearing to terminate the biological parental rights.

A photo of Peter and Danny kissing their son.
Source: Pinterest

The attorney from Children’s Services said she had been searching for him for a few weeks. Danny agreed to come and recount the events of that evening for the judge. When he got ready to leave, the judge asked him to stay.

Put on the Spot

When the police finished their testimony, the judge said, “Mr. Stewart, when we have a situation where a baby is abandoned, we want to place that baby in pre-adoptive foster care as quickly as possible.” Danny knew this because he was a social worker.

An image of a court gavel.

What shocked him the most was that the judge asked if he wanted to adopt the baby. It was completely unexpected, but Danny said yes. However, he didn’t think it would be so easy. The judge said he would have to come to the next hearing if he was interested.

A Lot of Confusion

Danny called Peter to tell him the news, but he wasn’t as excited. Peter told him to go back into the courtroom to tell them he couldn’t adopt the baby without them discussing it first. Danny didn’t do that, and they didn’t get a chance to discuss it until that evening.

Peter and Danny take a picture with the baby at home.
Source: Pinterest

When they spoke about it, Peter said, “What were you thinking? How could you say yes? How are we going to make this work? We don’t have any money. We don’t have the space. There’s no way we can raise a child in this city. We have nothing.”

An Ultimatum

Danny told Peter that this was a gift and an opportunity they would never get again. A few days later, Danny said he understood Peter’s opinion, but he was going to adopt the baby with or without him. He set up a visit to see the baby.

A newspaper clipping of Danny, Peter, and Kevin as a baby.
Source: Pinterest

He wanted Peter to go with him to the foster home. It would take six to nine months to finish the adoption process, so they had time to prepare. Peter was already leaning towards doing it with him because he knew it was a special opportunity.

They Thought It Wouldn’t Happen

Danny and Peter never thought they would get a chance to be parents. Even though they wanted to have a family, it didn’t seem possible because times were different in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. They were two men who didn’t have much money or space.

A picture of the baby playing with his toys at home.
Source: Pinterest

Having children didn’t fit into their lifestyle at the time, but they couldn’t say no when they had the opportunity to adopt. Danny and Peter saw this as a sign from the universe, as if they were being given a gift. It was now or never.

It Sealed the Deal

When the couple visited the foster home, it sealed the deal for them. Danny held the baby first, and Peter melted at the sight of his boyfriend with their future child. When it was Peter’s turn to take the little bundle, he felt an immediate connection.

A photo of Danny holding the baby for the first time.
Source: Pinterest

The visit helped Peter realize they were smart and capable enough to make the situation work. Holding their future son made everything feel real, and Peter was thrilled that they would be starting a family. He turned to Danny to say, “This is our son.”

Not an Ideal Place

When Danny and Peter arrived at the foster home, they quickly realized it was not a good environment. The baby had a painful sore and infected diaper rash from his belly button around his hips and thighs to his back. They weren’t taking proper care of him.

A picture of Peter holding the baby.
Source: Pinterest

The couple felt horrible that the baby was living in those conditions. It wasn’t ideal, and he deserved to be in a warm, loving home. Seeing him like that also influenced Danny and Peter’s decision to move forward with the adoption process.

Everything Happened Quickly

The adoption process started quickly after the visit. They had home visits and background checks and answered many questions. Initially, they were told it would take months for the baby to be placed in their home, so the couple thought they had time to prepare.

A photo of Peter and Danny with their son at school.
Source: Pinterest

However, Danny and Peter went to the court hearing a week after the foster home visit. The judge asked if they were there for the reason she hoped, and the couple replied, “Yes, we intend to adopt this baby.” She then asked if they wanted the baby for the holidays.

Short Notice

Danny and Peter said yes, but they quickly wondered what holiday she was referring to because Christmas was just a couple of days away. They panicked because she basically gave them two days’ notice to prepare for their son’s arrival.

A photo of the subway.
Source: Pinterest

They didn’t know it would happen so fast, but they needed to prepare everything for their son’s arrival. Their lives were about to change forever. The adoption process was supposed to include parenting training, but everything was moving quickly, so they had to skip some steps.

A Special Name

When the two started thinking about names for the baby, Peter suggested the name Kevin. It was special to him because his parents had had a baby before him that died at birth, whom they named Kevin. Peter was the only child they had after, and he always felt Kevin was protecting him.

Danny, Kevin, and Peter pose for a picture together on a sunny afternoon.
Source: Pinterest

Peter told his parents about the name, and his mom broke down in tears. They never imagined their son would have a child and name him Kevin after the baby they lost. His parents quickly jumped in to help them get ready.

An Overnight Change

They only had two days to prepare, so Peter’s mom, dad, and sister brought everything they had for a five-month-old baby. His family helped the couple transform their 400-square-foot apartment into a nursery almost overnight. Danny and Peter wanted everything to be perfect for Kevin’s arrival.

Danny and Peter speak during a televised interview.
Source: YouTube

Within those 48 hours, the couple speed read every baby book they could get their hands on. They wanted to ensure they did everything right because they had never had a baby. Danny and Peter were nervous first-time parents, like most expecting couples.

Welcome Home, Kevin

On December 22, 2000, Danny and Peter picked up Kevin from foster care and brought him home. It was surreal to have their son at home, and they couldn’t stop smiling. They watched as Kevin napped and couldn’t stop smiling at each other.

A picture of Danny, Kevin, and Peter spending time at the beach.
Source: Pinterest

It started to snow that evening, which made everything feel more magical. Sitting there with Kevin fast asleep on Peter’s chest gave the couple time to savor the moment. It was the first time they were able to take a moment to breathe and let reality set in.

An “Extended” Visit

The special moment ended when Kevin woke up and needed to be changed and fed. That was when their lives as parents truly began. Initially, the judge’s plan was for Kevin to stay with Peter and Danny for Christmas and New Year’s Eve before returning to foster care.

An image of a baby bottle on a desk.
Photo by Image Source/Getty Images

However, the couple asked if Kevin could stay with them even though the adoption process hadn’t been finalized. And they got good news. The so-called “holiday visit” never ended. Kevin remained in their home while they completed the home study and certified their home.

A Delayed Process

It took two years to finalize Kevin’s adoption. The Manhattan Family Court was located near the World Trade Center, so the process was delayed because of the 9/11 attacks. On December 17, 2002, the couple attended a hearing at the Manhattan Family Court.

An exterior shot of the New York Family Court.
Source: Pinterest

They asked the judge why she thought Danny would be interested in adopting the baby. She said, “I had a hunch. Was I wrong?” She wasn’t wrong because Danny felt a strong connection to the baby after the night he found Kevin in the subway station.

He Never Stopped Think About Him

When the police took the baby away, Danny couldn’t stop thinking about him, and the universe brought them back together. Their friends wondered why they didn’t take the baby home when they found him. Everyone knew they would be great parents.

A picture of a police siren.
Photo by Thinkstock Images/Getty Images

When they took Kevin home, they proved everyone right. Even the judge knew Danny and Peter were the right couple to raise Kevin. Luckily, it was a smooth transition into life as parents, and Kevin made their job easy. They praised him for being such a good kid.

They Got Lucky

Kevin was an easy baby. Peter said Kevin was “such an easy kid to raise.” He added, “We got so lucky. He slept all night. He’s always been a self-sufficient, self-motivated kid who’s really conscientious.” They felt blessed that Kevin didn’t give them trouble.

An image of a baby in his bed.
Photo by Image Source/Getty Images

As first-time parents with little time to prepare for Kevin’s arrival, they were relieved that they didn’t have to deal with many things they read about. Because Kevin was abandoned, Peter and Danny didn’t know much about his background, but there weren’t any problems.

He Loved Books

When they settled into life as a family, Danny remembered how much Kevin loved books. They would read to him every night at bedtime or sing him to sleep. Peter decided to make Kevin a picture book about his discovery and adoption story.

Peter, Kevin, and Danny take a picture in a wooden cabin during the holiday.
Source: Pinterest

Peter decorated the book with clip art, and when Kevin was about three, they read the story every night. They sometimes caught Kevin flipping through the pages, memorizing the words. He didn’t realize it was his story for about a year. But it was the sweetest thing to watch.

Wondering About His Past

Kevin eventually figured out that Danny and Peter weren’t his birth parents. He soon started to wonder about his biological family. Kevin would see people on the sidewalk or at restaurants and notice they had the same skin color as him.

Peter, Kevin, and Danny take a picture together outside school.
Source: Pinterest

It made him wonder if someone passing by was his mom or dad. However, Kevin didn’t bring it up too often. Peter and Danny didn’t stress about it too much, and eventually, Kevin stopped asking about his biological family. The problem kind of went away.

Someone From the Past

In 2011, New York state passed the law to make same-sex marriage legal. Danny and Peter had been together for over a decade, and they knew they wanted to get married. Kevin was 11 then, and they asked him what he thought about them getting married.

A photo of Danny and Kevin at the metro.
Source: Pinterest

Kevin was a bright kid and asked, “Don’t judges marry people?” Peter and Danny quickly realized Kevin asked because he wanted to meet the judge that finalized his adoption. Peter then emailed Manhattan Family Court, explaining who they were and their situation.

An Important Meeting

The judge’s clerk replied to Peter’s email, saying the judge would be delighted to marry them, but she wanted to meet with the couple first. She asked that they come without Kevin. When the couple went to her office, they got some important answers.

A photo of an empty jury box in court.
Photo by Comstock/Getty Images

The judge explained that she had been involved in a pilot program for abandoned newborns. It was canceled after six months, but she was allowed to cut through red tape and place Kevin in an appropriate home within a short period.

Long-Awaited Answers

During their meeting with the judge, she told them why she really asked if Danny wanted to adopt the baby. She explained that “all babies needed a connection to somebody. And when Danny was testifying in the courtroom about finding the baby, in her mind, Danny was the most serious connection.”

An image of a sign at a subway entrance.
Photo by Jupiter images/Getty Images

The judge asked him after the testimony because she thought it made the most sense. She saw a connection that had been made and believed Danny would be the right caregiver for Kevin. The judge saw something special within him.

The Big Day

On July 13, 2012, Peter and Danny got married in the judge’s office at Manhattan Family Court. Kevin came with them, and it was the first time he met the judge who oversaw his adoption. Peter recalls that Kevin was almost star-struck because he didn’t know what to say to her.

Danny, Kevin, and Pete pose for a picture after the wedding ceremony.
Source: Pinterest

Danny was overwhelmed with emotion. He told the judge that she was the only reason they became a family. He told People magazine, “I’m incredibly grateful to her that we became a family, and her performing our wedding was a beautiful moment that came full circle.”

He’s All Grown Up

Today, Kevin is 22 and recently graduated from a top-ranked college with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and math. In school, he played ultimate frisbee and was an avid runner. Danny and Peter gave him the best life he could have had, considering his beginnings.

A current picture of Peter, Kevin, and Danny are smiling at the camera.
Source: Pinterest

When Kevin was growing up, he spent a lot of time outdoors. Peter and Danny regularly took him to the playground and park and taught him how to ride a bike. As he got older, the family traveled to national parks and bonded over their love of hiking.

A Happy Family

Whoever gave birth to Kevin wouldn’t have been able to take proper care of him. They didn’t want a baby in their life and left him in the subway just hours after he was born. However, the universe sent Danny and Peter to give Kevin the life he deserved.

Pete, Kevin, and Danny take a picture in Yosemite National Park.
Source: Pinterest

They provided Kevin with love and care. The couple gave him a happy home with everything he needed. If it weren’t for them, it’s hard to say what would have happened to Kevin. It’s possible no one would have found him in time.

They Raised a Good Kid

Peter said that Kevin has always been respectful, empathetic, and kind. They said Kevin was never an attention seeker, mostly observing things around him. He liked to be private, but he was always a quiet leader. Danny and Peter did a good job.

Peter and Kevin take a picture at the entrance of their home.
Source: Pinterest

Peter shared that whenever Kevin wanted to learn something, he would go out and do it without a second thought. Kevin taught himself piano and guitar. They also said he is very funny. He turned out to be a wonderful young man who shares their love of the New York Mets.

They Can’t Imagine It Differently

Although they couldn’t imagine becoming parents 22 years ago, Danny said he can’t picture a life without Kevin now. The couple loved every second of raising Kevin and wouldn’t do anything different. Being parents changed the way they looked at the world.

Kevin, Peter, and Danny take a photo together.
Source: Pinterest

Danny admitted, “I did not know that this level of deep love existed in the world until my son came into my life.” There is no greater love than that between a parent and their child, even if it is not a biological connection.

He Wrote a Book

In September 2020, Peter released a children’s book about their family’s story called Our Subway Baby. It gave the world a sweet look at the heartwarming story of how their family came to be. It had better illustrations than clip art.

An image of one of the pages in the book.
Source: Amazon

In the book, Peter wrote, “Sometimes life hinges on little moments, happy accidents, and miraculous surprises. Sometimes babies are born into forever families. Sometimes they are adopted. And sometimes, all it takes to find your family is a chance glace at tiny toes wiggling in the corner of a subway station.”