Although the judges question had come completely out of the blue, fr1

Author : tayukoder
Publish Date : 2021-04-08


Although the judges question had come completely out of the blue, fr1

Health experts have blamed the end of the southern hemisphere summer holidays and the return of the active population to work, school and public transport for the second wave, along with a relaxation of self-care measures and movement restrictions.

Danny Stewart was rushing to meet his boyfriend for dinner when he ran past something lying on the floor of a New York subway station. Soon he would treasure it more than anything else in the world.

It was around eight o'clock on 28 August 2000, just past the frenzy of the New York rush hour when a subway train rattled down the track into 14th Street station, in the Chelsea district of Manhattan. Danny Stewart, 34, was late for dinner with his partner, Pete Mercurio, 32.

The couple had met three years earlier through a friend in Pete's softball team. Later Danny had moved in with Pete and his flatmate, but on this summer evening he had been back to his sublet apartment in Harlem to pick up the post.

As Danny was hurrying out of the station something caught his eye.

"I noticed on the floor tucked up against the wall, what I thought was a baby doll," he says.

He was puzzled - why would a child leave a doll on the ground? - but he continued up the stairs to the exit.

"I glanced back one more time, and that's when I noticed his legs moved."

He ran back down the stairs and realised that the doll was in fact a baby boy, wrapped in a dark sweatshirt, with his tiny legs sticking out.

"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," he says.

Danny could hardly believe what he was seeing. He couldn't understand how a baby had been left on the floor, or who could have left it.

The little boy was very quiet, and yet also alert, with big, wide eyes.

"He did look up and I stroked his head and then he whimpered a little bit. It seemed really unreal, the whole situation, and at that point I was trying to alert people to what was happening, but I couldn't get anybody's attention."

Danny yelled out, "Please, call the police," but almost everyone ignored him.

"I did get the attention of one woman, but she didn't speak English, so she didn't really understand what I was saying, even when I was trying to point to the baby," Danny says. "I think she probably thought I may have been a little deranged."

This was before the time when everyone had a mobile phone and Danny was afraid to pick up the baby in case he was hurt. So Danny ran up the stairs to the street to a payphone and called 911.

"I found a baby," he blurted out. Then he told the police where he was located and ran back to check the baby was still OK. He waited for what seemed like ages.

"I'm sure it was just a few minutes, but time was standing still as my heart was racing," he says. "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."

Grabbing a quarter out of his pocket he ran back to the payphone to call him.

"Once again, I blurted out, 'I found a baby. I don't think the police believe me so call them please right now.'"

Pete, who had been pacing up and down, looking out of his apartment window waiting for Danny, says the hair on the back of his neck stood up.

"Because Danny doesn't joke, he wouldn't say something if it wasn't true," he says.

He bolted out of the apartment to the subway station, arriving as the police were carrying the baby away to be taken for a check-up at the hospital. After Danny had given his statement, the two of them left.

"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,'" says Pete.

"Danny was like, 'What do you mean?' I said, 'Well, eventually, this child is going to learn of the night he was found and he may want to find the person who discovered him. Maybe there's a way that we can find out where he ends up and send a birthday gift every year on this date?'"


So Danny and Pete returned to their daily lives - Danny to his role as a social worker and Pete as a playwright and web designer.

But before too long Danny received an invitation from the Administration for Children's Services to attend a family court hearing, to testify how he had found the baby. When this took place, in December 2000, the judge asked Danny if he could stay for the entire hearing. He waited for the police to give their testimony, and then the judge addressed Danny again.

"She says, '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.'

"In my head, I'm thinking, 'Well that makes sense,'" says Danny. "And then the next thing out of her mouth was, 'Would you be interested in adopting this baby?'"

Danny looked around, all eyes were on him.

"I think most of the mouths dropped in the courtroom, including mine. I said, 'Yes, but I don't think it's that easy,' and the judge smiled and she said, 'Well, it can be.'"

Although the judge's question had come completely out of the blue, friends and acquaintances had already queried why Danny and Pete had not taken the baby boy home to take care of the night he was found. You didn't need to be a social worker, as Danny was, to realise that this wasn't how things worked.

The adoption process took six to nine months and involved background checks and parenting training.

"I had not had thoughts of adopting," says Danny, "but at the same time, I could not stop thinking that… I did feel connected, I felt like this was not even an opportunity, it was a gift, and how can you say no to this gift.

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Category :art-culture

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