When playwright Peter Mercurio answered the phone 12 years ago, he probably didn't realize the call would change his life.
On an August night in 2000, Mercurio received a phone call from his partner, David Stewart, who was at the Eighth Avenue A/C/E subway stop in New York City, recounts Mercurio in "We Found Our Son in the Subway," an op-ed for The New York Times.
“I found a baby!” Stewart yelled, according to Mercurio. “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.”
When the couple appeared in family court that December to give their account of what happened, the judge overseeing the case asked if they'd be interested in adopting. Stewart, a social worker, replied "yes."
The judge's request for Mercurio and Stewart to stay during the family court hearing was unusual, according to an article about the adoption previously published in Parents magazine.
"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," the judge said before asking about their interest, according to the magazine.
The judge later revealed she "had a hunch" that they'd want to adopt and took a chance, Mercurio writes. The two went on to become foster parents to baby Kevin, then legal parents and then married parents.
Although their journey had a happy ending, Mercurio and Stewart's story highlights gay adoption around the world, especially in regions where gay couples are barred from adopting children.
Last year, Virginia lawmakers passed a bill allowing private adoption agencies to reject gay couples on the basis of religious or moral beliefs. Mississippi specifically bans homosexual couples from adopting, while Utah law prohibits cohabiting couples not legally recognized as married from adopting (but doesn't mention sexual orientation), ABC News notes. "Second parent adoption" allows one same-sex parent to adopt in 18 states plus Washington, D.C., while the other must become a legal guardian.
On Feb. 20, Puerto Rico upheld a law banning gay couples from adopting. Gay father and pop star Ricky Martin expressed his disappointment, tweeting, “How sad. This is like turning your back on children. So many orphans wanting to have the warmth of a home."
However, in Germany, the highest-court bolstered gay adoption laws by allowing a person to adopt his or her same-sex partner's stepchild or adopted child. Previously, same-sex partners in the country could only legally adopt a biological child.
Peter Mercurio has written a screenplay about their adoption journey, called "Found (A True Story)." Watch a teaser below.