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article imageGay couple adopted baby found abandoned in subway

By JohnThomas Didymus     Mar 3, 2013 in Lifestyle
The story of a gay couple who adopted a baby they found abandoned in a Manhattan subway station 12 years ago has touched the hearts of thousands. Peter Mercurio tells the story in a New York Times Opinionator article "We Found Our Son in the Subway."
The story, featured in The New York Times on Thursday, tells the story of how it began on a night in August 2000 when Mercurio received a phone call from his partner Danny Stewart during which he announced excitedly that he had found a baby at the Eight Avenue A/C/E subway exit in New York City.
According to Mercurio, the baby appeared to be about a day old.
After he called his partner, Stewart contacted the authorities. The story made headlines and he appeared on TV recounting how he found the baby.
Mercurio recalls that when Stewart called him, he yelled: "I found a baby! I called 911, but I don’t think they believed me. No one’s coming. I don’t want to leave the baby alone. Get down here and flag down a police car or something."
Stewart appeared in family court three months later to give an account of how he found the baby. At a point the judge asked him if he would like to adopt the child.
Everyone in the courtroom was surprised by the question. But Stewart, a social worker, answered, "Yes," and added: "I know it's not that easy."
The judge said: "Well, it can be." Then he gave instructions to have Danny, and by extension, Mercurio, adopt the baby.
Mercurio writes:
"In three years as a couple, we had never discussed adopting a child. Why would we?... Even if our financial and logistical circumstances had been different, we knew how many challenges gay couples usually faced when they want to adopt. And while Danny had patience and selflessness galore, I didn't. I didn't know how to change a diaper, let alone nurture a child.
"But here was fate, practically giving us a baby. How could we refuse? Eventually, my fearful mind spent, my heart seized control to assure me I could handle parenthood."
Parents Magazine comments that the judge's request for Mercurio and Stewart to stay during the court hearing was not usual.
Before asking Stewart if he would like to adopt the child, the judge had reportedly said: "I want to let you know what's going on. When we have an abandoned baby, we try to place him in a permanent home as quickly as possible."
Mercurio writes that throughout the adoption process he kept wondering why the judge decided to suggest that Stewart adopt the child. Did she know that he was a social worker and thus felt he would make a good parent? How she have reacted if she had known at the time she asked that Danny was in a gay relationship?
Mercurio writes that at the final hearing, after the judge had signed the official adoption order, he (Mercurio) found the opportunity to ask: "Your honor, we've been wondering why you asked Danny if he was interested in adopting?"
She answered: "I had a hunch. Was I wrong?"
The couple became foster parents to "Baby ACE" and named him Kevin. They later became the baby's legal parents.
Years later, in a twist worthy of a Bollywood movie plot, the couple became the baby's married parents.
The opportunity came in 2011, when New York State finally allowed gay couples to marry. Kevin, now 12 years old, suggested to his fathers that they ask the judge who gave him to them in adoption to marry them.
Stewart and Mercurio agreed.
Mercurio writes:
... I composed a query letter and sent it to the catchall e-mail address listed for the Manhattan family court. Within hours, a court attorney called to say that, of course, the judge remembered us, and was thrilled by the idea of officiating our marriage. All we had to do was pick a date and time.
"When he (Kevin) was a toddler, Danny and I made him a storybook that explained how we became a family, and it included an illustration of the judge, gavel in hand. A character from his book was about to jump off the page as a real person.
Kevin reached out to shake her hand.
"Can I give you hug?" she asked. When they separated, the judge asked Kevin about school, his interests, hobbies, friends and expressed her delight that we were there.
The experience of the couple brings to focus the obstacles gay couples face, especially where there are legal barriers to gays adopting children.
According to The Huffington Post, last year, Virginia passed a bill allowing private adoption agencies to refuse gay couples on religious and moral grounds.The state of Mississippi bans homosexual couples outright.
Puerto Rico recently upheld a law banning gay couples from adopting.
Peter Mercurio, a playwright, has written a screenplay about their adoption: "Found (A True Story)."
Watch a teaser of the screenplay above.
More about Gay couple, Baby, Subway, Abandoned, Peter mercurio
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