(Screengrab from @petemercurionyc’s Instagram Account)
Where there is love, anything is possible. -Peter Mercurio, from Our Subway Baby
The date was 28 August 2000, it was supposed to be just one of those days for Danny Stewart, you know, just an ordinary day like many before it.
Danny, a social worker then aged 34, was rushing home from work as he was running late for his dinner with his partner, Peter Mercurio. That day, he rode the New York City subway as per usual. But as fate would have it, he saw something bundled in a corner of the 14th St. A/C/E subway station exit that Danny didn’t think at the time would change his life forever: he found a baby.
“I noticed on the floor tucked up against the wall, what I thought was a baby doll,” Danny said. Wondering why a child would leave a doll on the ground, Danny looked back as he climbed up the stairs to the exit and that, he said, was when he “noticed his legs moved.”
Naturally, Danny went back down to check and that’s when he discovered a baby boy bundled in a “dark sweatshirt, with his tiny legs sticking out.” He told BBC News, “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.”
Danny said he called 911 through a payphone and then he called Pete who arrived at the scene from his nearby Chelsea apartment just as the police were taking the baby to St. Vincent’s Hospital for a checkup. At the time, Pete told him, “You know, you’re going to be connected to that baby in some way for the rest of your life.”
Pete’s words soon proved prophetic. On December 2020, a few months later after the incident, Danny was invited by the Administration for Children’s Services to testify about how he had found the baby. That’s when the judge asked him, “Would you be interested in adopting this baby?” A question to which Danny replied, “Yes, but I don’t think it’s that easy.” The judge, Danny recounted, smiled and said, “Well, it can be.”
But as they say, “nothing worth having comes easy” and the adoption almost came with a cost: Pete.
Pete, then aged 32, was simply not ready. He had not wanted his life to change. He said, “I was happy the way we were and this was just going to change everything.” Further, Pete explained, “We had no money, we had no space, we still had a roommate… I was also a little angry with him, ‘How could you say yes, without consulting me first?'”
Pete, however, changed his mind when they visited the baby together at the foster home. “The baby squeezed my finger with his entire hand so hard,” Pete said, recounting the moment he held the baby for the first time. “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.”
Fast forward to today, that baby boy Danny found abandoned on the subway is now 20 years old and studying mathematics and computer science in college. His name is Kevin, he stands over six feet tall, taller than his Daddy Danny and Papa Pete.
“Kevin’s always been a respectful kid,” Pete told the BBC. “He’s empathic and kind. He keeps his emotions close to the vest. He’s an observer, doesn’t crave or seek attention. He’s a private person, but also a quiet leader.”
The couple felt their story had come full circle when they got married in 2011 after New York legalized gay marriage and it was their adoption judge who married them.
“I can’t imagine my life if it didn’t turn out this way,” Danny said. “My life has become much more enriched and full. It has changed my world view, my perspective, my whole lens.”
Looking back, Danny said, “I had not had thoughts of adopting, but at the same time, I could not stop thinking that… I did feel connected.” He added, “I felt like this was not even an opportunity, it was a gift, and how can you say no to this gift.”
Pete, on the other hand, shared, “I did not know that this level of deep love existed in the world until my son came into my life.” Pete wrote a book about their story, it’s titled: Our Subway Baby. You can purchase it through this link.
Read their story on BBC News in full here.