It’s a modern-tale fairytale, complete with happy ending.
Back in the summer of 2000, Danny Stewart was hurrying through a New York subway station when something on the floor, near a wall, caught his eye.
It looked like a doll. Then the legs moved, and he realised it was a baby. The baby was newborn, with his umbilical cord still partially intact. He was wrapped in a sweatshirt.
Side note: The horoscopes and self-care. Post continues below.
Danny yelled out for someone to call the police, but people just walked by. Eventually he ran up the stairs, found a payphone, dialled 911 and blurted, “I found a baby!”
He ran back to the baby and waited. No one came, so he ran back up the stairs and called his partner, Pete Mercurio. Their apartment was nearby, so Mercurio hurried out to meet him.
Finally, the police arrived. They took a statement from Danny and then took the baby off to St Vincent’s Hospital for a checkup. That was it. Or so Danny thought.
The story made the news the next day. Danny was hailed as a good Samaritan.
A spokesperson for St Vincent’s told The New York Times that the baby was in “good health”, and had probably been born the same day he was found. He weighed 3.2kg, and was described as “Hispanic, with patches of brown hair on the top of his head”.
The baby was given the name Daniel ACE Doe – Daniel, after Stewart, ACE, after the A-C-E station where he was found, and Doe, because his identity was unknown. A search began for the baby’s mother.
Danny, a social worker, and Pete, an aspiring playwright, went back to their lives. They weren’t activists, just a happy couple who had been going out for three years after meeting on a softball field. They’d never talked about having children.
In December 2000, just over three months after the baby was found, Danny was asked to attend a family court hearing.
He told the story of how he had found the baby in the subway station. The judge asked him to stay in the courtroom.
She told him that the baby had been placed in pre-adoptive foster care, but the next thing she said came as a complete shock.