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Nearly two years ago, Chris and Brittany Tyler were at home in Louisville, Kentucky, when they read a news story online about a newborn who was surrendered at a local fire station under the state's Safe Infants Act, which provides designated safe places for parents to leave babies under 30 days old with no penalties.
Last month, the Tylers adopted the baby they read about, a boy whom they named Samuel.
"He's been part of our family from day one," Chris Tyler told "Good Morning America" of his now-toddler, who is nearly 2 years old and loves hugs and Mickey Mouse, according to his parents.
Chris Tyler said he and his wife became foster parents nearly seven years ago after struggling with infertility for years.
Already the parents of two adopted sons, ages 5 and 7, the Tylers said when they read the news story about the infant surrendered at the fire station, they "prayed and hoped" they would be asked to take in the baby.
According to Lt. Col. Bobby Cooper, assistant chief for the Louisville Fire Department, firefighters at a station in Louisville were in the middle of a shift change around 8 a.m. on May 12, 2022, when the doorbell to the station rang.
On the doorstep, firefighters found a newborn baby tucked safely in a box, along with a note from his biological mother.
"The [firefighters] notified emergency transportation, EMS, to be able to transport Samuel to a local children's hospital, to get him checked out and make sure that he was healthy and that he got the proper care that he needed," Cooper told "GMA," adding, "Our firefighters did a tremendous job of handling it and notifying the appropriate authorities."
Just a few days later, while out for a walk with their older sons, the Tylers said they received a phone call asking them to foster the baby. The next day, they were in the neonatal intensive care unit of a local hospital, holding Samuel.
"He was in the NICU for a couple of weeks before he was ready to come home [because] he was so small," Brittany Tyler said, adding that Samuel weighed just 3 pounds when he arrived at the hospital. "And we were able to visit him in the NICU that entire time."
When the Tylers brought Samuel home on June 2, 2022, they said he immediately "fit right in" with the family.
"The other kids absolutely loved him," Brittany Tyler recalled. "We had another foster baby at the time who was only a few months older, and they became buddies right away."
Given that Samuel was surrendered under the Safe Infants Act, the Tylers said they knew early on that barring any unforeseen circumstances, he would be able to be adopted, versus being a more typical, shorter-term foster placement.
After nearly two years of going through the adoption process, the Tylers officially adopted Samuel on Dec. 18, 2023.
Following family tradition, after the adoption ceremony, the couple said they took Samuel to a local Build-A-Bear store, where he made a firefighter bear.
The bear is just one way that the Tylers said they have worked to keep Samuel's birth story at the forefront.
Since his birth, the family has visited the fire station where Samuel was surrendered and has celebrated milestones there, including Samuel's first birthday.
"We've got a great photo of the firemen that were on duty that day holding him, and we're talking about these huge guys ... and just massive smiles," Chris Tyler said. "[They] know that there's a special connection between Samuel and that fire station, and with them particularly."
The firefighters too have made sure Samuel has a connection to his story, including by giving the Tylers the note left for their son, which the Tylers said they are saving to show him as he gets older.
Cooper said that the Louisville Fire Department is "incredibly proud" of the role they played in Samuel's life story.
"We've been lucky that his parents and his family allowed us to continue to be a part of his story, bringing him by the firehouse for his birthday and letting him know that the local fire department is a part of his life story," he said. "And we hope that they continue to do so."
Cooper said he hopes the Tylers' story raises awareness of safe haven laws, a version of which exists in all 50 states, allowing for the safe surrender of newborns in a protected environment.
"It's an imperfect world, and we don't have perfect solutions for every situation, but this is another option for a mom," he said. "If a mom finds herself in a crisis situation and needs a haven for an infant, this is another resource that's available."
The Tylers too said they hope that by sharing their story it raises awareness of not only safe haven options, but also of the need for fostering and adoption.
In the United States, 114,000 kids were in the foster care system waiting to be adopted at the end of 2021, according to the U.S. Administration for Children and Families.
Chris Tyler said that as Samuel gets older, he and his wife plan to tell their son the incredible story of all the people who helped him become part of their family.
"We really want to let him know that somebody loved him even though they weren't going to be with him for his whole life," Chris Tyler said. "That [his biological mom] loved him and wanted the best for him, and she trusted that he would go to a good place, and we're thankful to God that he came to us."
Couple adopts toddler left at fire station as a newborn originally appeared on goodmorningamerica.com