Danny Stewart was heading home in 2000 on the New York City subway when he spotted an abandoned baby, he told People magazine.

Now, more than 20 years later, Stewart, his partner Peter Mercurio, and that baby — today a grown man — are a family.

Danny Stewart Reported an Abandoned Baby

“I got off at the 14th Street exit and noticed a bundle on the ground against a wall,” Stewart recalled when talking to People, decades later. “All I could see was two little legs sticking out of this dark sweatshirt. I’m thinking, ‘Some little girl left a doll.’”

But as he climbed the stairs to leave the station, Stewart said, the baby’s legs moved. He rushed back to the child, alone on the floor of the subway platform, to find a wide-eyed newborn staring back at him. 

“I’m realizing, ‘A baby’s been left here,’” he said. “His umbilical cord was still partially intact, so I thought he was a newborn. I thought he might have been injured, so I didn’t pick him up for fear of causing further injury.”

Danny Stewart said he frantically urged a passerby to call the police for the helpless baby. “But it was about 8 o’clock at night, and there weren’t a lot of people going through,” he told the magazine. “I couldn’t get anybody’s attention.”

Leaving the baby alone briefly while he tracked down a pay phone — “This was before we had cell phones,” Stewart noted — he dialed 911 and alerted operators that he had found an unattended newborn. 

Stewart said he rushed down the stairs, back to the child, where he waited for help to arrive for what seemed like hours. 

“Time was standing still,” he said. I was thinking it was taking a long time for the police to come. I didn’t think they believed me.” Reluctantly, he dashed up the stairs, back to the phone, to dial his partner, Peter Mercurio.  

“I picked up the phone and he said ‘I found a baby,’” Pete told People. “Danny doesn’t joke around, the tone of his voice was just so alarming. He asked me to call 911 again and told me where he was, which is one block from my apartment.”

By the time Mercurio arrived at the 14th Street station, police had arrived and taken the baby. Authorities took a statement from Danny Stewart, before promptly taking the newborn to a nearby hospital for a check up. 

“I turned to Danny and I said, ‘You know, you’re going to be connected to that baby for the rest of your life,’” Pete said. “I don’t know how, but someday he’s going to learn about this night and he may want to meet the person who found him.”

When Danny Stewart wanted to adopt the baby he rescued from the New York City subway, his now-husband Peter Mercurio wasn't sure they were ready.
When Danny Stewart wanted to adopt the baby he rescued from the New York City subway, his now-husband Peter Mercurio wasn’t sure they were ready to raise a son. Photo credit: Pete Mercurio Instagram

Danny Stewart: ‘This is a Gift’

The following day, Stewart said, he checked the hospital to find out what had happened to the child. 

“They said ‘only families are allowed,’” he told the magazine. “I wasn’t given any more information. We went on with our lives, because we’re thinking, ‘well, that’s the end of the story.’” 

Weeks passed and the tragic episode faded into memory. 

Until weeks later, when social services asked Danny Stewart to “testify at a hearing to terminate the biological parental rights for the baby,” he said

He told the court how he found the child on the floor of a Chelsea subway station and stayed with him until help arrived. But at the end of the hearing, Stewart said, the judge asked him to stick around. 

“After the police gave their testimony the judge said, ‘Mr. Stewart, when we have a situation where a baby has been abandoned, we want to place that baby in pre-adoptive foster care as quickly as possible,’” he remembered

“In my head I’m thinking, ‘well, that makes a lot of sense.’ The next thing out of her mouth is, ‘would you be interested in adopting this baby?’” Stewart said. Shocked by the question, he said he recalled feeling everybody in the courtroom watching him answer. 

“I pause for a second and say, ‘yes, but I don’t think it’s that easy.’ And she said, ‘It can be,’” he remembered. “If you’re interested in adopting, then you’ll need to show up at the next court hearing to state your intentions.’”

Danny Stewart was interested in adopting, he told the judge. But Pete was not — at least, not at first. 

“I said, ‘absolutely not,’” he recalled. “‘Go back into the courtroom right now and tell her no, you misspoke.’”

Pete Mercurio was concerned, he later explained, that the pair didn’t have the means to raise a child in the city. Still, Stewart was adamant, telling him, “‘This is a gift. We can’t refuse this. We’ll never get this opportunity again.” 

But after agreeing to visit the baby in the foster home where he now lived, Pete was convinced. 

“I’d softened up and realized that this was something that we weren’t ever going to get another opportunity to become parents,” he remembered. “This was it […] I realized that we were smart, capable men, and we can definitely make this work.”  

Danny Stewart and Pete Mercurio adopted the abandoned baby they found on the New York City subway and started a family.
Danny Stewart and Pete Mercurio adopted the abandoned baby they found on the New York City subway and started a family. They were married in 2012, the couple said. Photo credit: Pete Mercurio Instagram

A Family Was Born

The couple kept the child and named him Kevin. They were married in 2012 at a ceremony officiated by the same judge who asked Stewart to consider adoption.

Today, Kevin, is a 21-year-old athlete computer science major at an elite university, his dads told reporters. 

Danny Stewart and his partner Pete Mercurio adopted an abandoned baby they found in the New York City subway.
Danny Stewart and his partner Pete Mercurio adopted an abandoned baby they found in the New York City subway. Today, they and their son Kevin enjoy spending time together outdoors, they said. Photo credit: Pete Mercurio Instagram

 The three bond by hiking at national parks, biking, and “spending time together in nature,” Pete said.

“Sometimes life hinges on little moments, happy accidents, and miraculous surprises,” Pete reflected. “Sometimes babies are born into forever families.”