A man finds an abandoned baby in the dark alley where he lives and saves her life. Many years later, they meet again. Some children are born into a cradle of gold, cherished, loved, and wanted. Others are not so fortunate. One late fall afternoon, Jeffrey Miller, 37, and self-confessed drunk, found one of the unfortunate ones.
He was walking into the alley where he usually spent his afternoons when he heard a strange sound. At first, he thought it was a cat, but as he drew closer, he realized it was a baby crying. There was a baby lying next to the dumpster on a pile of dead leaves. Jeffrey was stunned. A baby here?
Who would leave a baby next to a dumpster in an alley where rats could get at it? Quickly, he picked up the child and saw that it was very young, maybe just days old. “Oh,” cried Jeffrey, rocking the whimpering child. “Oh, we are in trouble.” He didn’t know what to do.
Jeffrey had been raised in foster care after his parents died, and he had been very unlucky. For Jeffrey, handing the baby to Child Services would be like sending it to certain torture. “What can I do?” he wondered. So he went to a shelter he knew and spoke to the nun who ran it.
He told her the baby was his, that he’d had a relationship with a homeless woman who had now abandoned the child, and he asked for her help for formula and diapers for the first few months. Jeffrey managed to keep the baby clean and fed, but then winter arrived. How could he keep such a small baby on the streets in winter? Then he had an idea. Every day, he panhandled outside a big Wall Street firm, and there was a tall, thin woman who always gave him money and said a few kind words.
Jeffrey decided that she would be the perfect mother for his baby. He walked up to her. “Hello,” he said. “Would you take my baby, please? It’s getting so cold.
I’m afraid she’ll die.” The woman he had chosen was Deborah Sylvester, a high-powered financial consultant, single, and with no children. She looked from Jeffrey’s desperate, bearded face to the baby’s sweet smile. “I can’t take a baby,” Deborah gasped. “Please,” said Jeffrey.
“Her name is Julia, and she’s lovely.” Jeffrey shoved the baby into Deborah’s arms and started walking away. “Wait,” cried Deborah. “What’s your name?” “I’m Jeffrey,” he said.
“You can tell her Jeffrey Miller loved her.” That night, Jeffrey huddled in the shelter with empty arms and found that he had tears running down his face. He whispered, “What does a madman like me have to offer a baby?” Jeffrey’s life didn’t get any easier after he gave Deborah the baby. When he had Julia, he had stopped drinking, but now he took up his old addiction again.
This went from bad to worse, and 16 years later, Jeffrey believed he was at the end of the road. He was sleeping huddled under a bridge in Central Park one afternoon when someone shone a flashlight in his face. “Jeffrey Miller?” asked a young voice. He held up a hand to shield his eyes.
It was a young, beautiful girl with big, golden eyes and a gentle smile. “I used to be Jeffrey Miller,” he said. “And who are you?” The girl gave a happy cry and threw her arms around him. “I’m Julia.
I’m the baby you saved, and I’m here with my mother.” Then Julia told Jeffrey her story. Deborah had decided to keep Julia and adopted her but never told her. One day, when she was looking for old photos for a school project, Julia found the adoption papers. It was then that Deborah told her about Jeffrey Miller, the man who had saved her and struggled to keep her safe and healthy on the New York streets.
“Mom, we have to find him,” cried Julia. “We have to help him as he helped me.” And so had begun a search of every homeless shelter and halfway house in New York, and now they had finally found him. But Jeffrey shook his head. “No good, Julia.
I’m too old and broken to change.” Julia looked him right in the eye. “Don’t you dare give up on yourself, Jeffrey Miller, because I’m not giving up on you.” Deborah got Jeffrey into a rehab facility, and when he came out three months later, he was a different man. Deborah got him a job and found him a little apartment all his own.
It wasn’t easy, of course, but Jeffrey had Julia with him every step of the way, making sure he stayed on the wagon. Jeffrey Miller was a changed man. He finally had something to live for: a family, hope, and love.