Teenager Bob Halstead was on his way to school one day when he found a hat box on the street. He then opened it up to find what he thought was a very realistic doll. But as he took a closer look, the doll suddenly opened its eyes – and the boy realized that all was not as it seemed.
Halstead can remember that day like it was yesterday. It was a frosty mid-fall morning, and he was running late for school. As a result, the 16-year-old missed his car pool and had to walk to Notre Dame High School instead.
And the route may have been one he knew like the back of his hand. From his home in the North End area of Bridgeport, Connecticut, he would head westwards towards his school. That journey took him past the corner of Old Town and Acton roads, where there was a box to drop off mail.
However, on the morning of November 1, 1968, there was something different about the scene – namely, there was a blue hat box beside the mail drop-off. And curiosity got the better of Halstead, so he decided to take a peek inside that box. As he did, though, he made the most stomach-turning discovery.
Upon first inspection, Halstead believed he’d found an animatronic doll. It was moving a little bit within a velour sweater someone had wrapped it in. Then it opened an eye. And that’s when the teenager realized that this was not a doll but, instead, a living and breathing baby.
Shocked, Halstead did what many teenagers would probably have done: he ran home to tell his mom, Marie. After he had done so, moreover, the pair quickly returned to the corner and took the baby home. And soon it became clear that the infant was just hours old. In fact, her umbilical cord hadn’t even dropped off yet.
The newborn was subsequently named “Baby Susan” after staff at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport took her in. Her story was so compelling, moreover, that the local press picked it up. However, neither of her parents ever came forward to claim her. And a year after her discovery, Susan was with a new family.
Baby Susan went on to live in the hamlet of Shirley in Long Island, New York. Her name became Susan Akie-Mote, and she has known that she was adopted since she was seven years old. Her adoptive mom, Rosemarie, had been honest with her, and her past was something Akie-Mote hadn’t given much thought to for a long time.
But, eventually, Akie-Mote did become more interested in what had happened to her back in the ’60s. So, alongside her work as a nurse and a mother of three, she began searching online for any clues as to her birth mother. That wasn’t to say that she didn’t appreciate what her adoptive parents had done for her, though. “I’ve had great parents and a great life,” Akie-Mote told the Connecticut Post in September 2017.
Meanwhile, Halstead was busy living his life over in Connecticut. Before Susan’s family had taken her, he and his mom had regularly checked up on the little baby they had saved. Once she was adopted, however, it seems that they had little to no idea where she had gone. In any case, almost 50 years passed without Halstead hearing a word about Akie-Mote.
However, that all changed in September 2017. That month, Halstead was checking his Facebook page when he stumbled across a message from a 48-year-old Long Island woman. Specifically, the lady wanted to know if he was the Bob Halstead she’d read about. And was he the one who had found a baby as a teenager on his way to school all those years ago?
At first, Halstead thought the message must be a joke. However, he soon realized that the woman was not kidding. She was in fact Akie-Mote, who had managed to track her rescuer down using whatever she could find on the internet. And now that she’d uncovered him, she was keen to meet up.
That’s how, in September 2017, Akie-Mote found herself in Bridgeport, waiting for Halstead. When she arrived at the ferry port, though, he was late. Still, she was willing to spend an extra few minutes there to finally meet her savior.
“A thousand things are going through my head,” Akie-Mote told reporters as she waited in anticipation for Halstead. “I can’t believe I’m going to meet Bob, hear the whole story and get to fill in all the blanks in my life. I feel like I’m gaining a family.”
Finally, when Halstead arrived, the pair shared an emotional embrace. And, according to Newsday, Akie-Mote only had one thing to say to the man who had potentially saved her life. “Thank you so much,” she simply told the now 65-year-old.
“It was a wonderful experience,” Halstead later revealed. “I always wished I could know what happened and I started crying when I read. I almost didn’t want to know her story because of all the scenarios that could have happened.”
And during their reunion, Halstead showed Akie-Mote the spot where he had found her as a baby. Then, after that, he had another surprise in store. Together, they retraced his steps back to his childhood home, where his 93-year-old mother still lives.
The meeting with Marie was the icing on the cake for Akie-Mote. What’s more, the Halsteads were able to fill in some of the blanks she had regarding her first few days alive. “It’s all these little details,” she explained to Newsday. “I never knew I was born with red hair. My children were born with red hair, and we didn’t know where that came from until yesterday.”
Akie-Mote added, “I never knew what I looked like as a baby. I never knew where I even was. I never knew where my name came from. And it was the most amazingest feeling in the whole world to meet him.” The threesome then spent the next few hours chatting.
And although she may not have uncovered all the secrets of her past, Akie-Mote is pleased to have at last found some answers. “If I never get to meet my biological parents, it’s okay, because meeting [the Halsteads] filled such a big gap in my life,” she told Newsday.