Adoption is happy ending to suicide attempt drama

Date: 1981-11-27

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — A drama that began on a Bowery roof ledge three months ago has ended in a Staten Island family court. where the policeman who talked Michael Buchanan out of suicide officially became his adopted father.

When William Fox met the 17-year-old in early September. Buchanan was a lonely, depressed runaway perched on the edge of a flophouse rooftop, threatening to end it life that had bounced him from town to town and home to home.

The crowd six storcys below yelled: "Jump! Jlump!"

But on Friday the 35·year-old bachelor and his new son were hugging and smiling on the courthouse steps as they told reporters how Michaels life had changed since Fox took temporary custody of the youth in early October.

"HE'S GOING to go to college and become a productive citizen of this city." Fox said. "He';s going to high school, he‘s on the bowling team and he's got a girlfriend."

"Yeah. I'll call him 'Dad.; "Michael said. smiling. "But it‘s going to sound
funny."

The scene was not as bright when the two met in the Bowery. As the crowd encouraged him to leap. Fox asked Michael to crawl over to him.
‘See. they don`t care: about me." Michael said. gesturing toward the spectators.

"Somebody cares," Fox told him. "I'd be proud to have a son Iike you."

MICHAEL PULLED hack from tho ledge and the friendship began.

Fox called Friday's final adoption order "a greatThanksgiving gift for both of us. '

"Michael is doing greal. and is very pleased and so am l. We're going to be a family?

"I‘ve never gotten this kind of second chance before," Michael said.

Fox said he received telephone calls from both of Michael‘s parents and neither objected to the adoption.

He said juvenile authorities in Tennessee told him MichaeI's mother left himand his father when Michael was a baby.

Michael was taken away from his father after the man left his son in a car alone for eight hours while working at a carnival.

Authorities also found that Michael had been abused, Fox said.

The youth said he ran away from foster
families in Tennessee and North Carolina before heading for Ohio and then to New York City in September. He arrived in the city with $6, he said. After a night of riding the subway, he drifted to the Bowery, where he washed dishes and panhandled.

But. he recalled, "everybody seemed to be so caught up in their own thing that they didn't. have time for anyone else."

Four days after arriving here. Michael was on the roof. threatening to jump.

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