Steve Bradford, a wealthy middle-aged businessman, returns to the midwest orphanage where his illegitimate son was given up for adoption twenty years earlier. He wants to find the boy; not to take him from his adoptive parents but to give him all the financial advantages he is now able to offer. Miss Dempster, the orphanage director, explains that this won't be possible since adoption records are sealed. She regrets that he has come all that way for nothing. But Steve doesn't intend to give up.
While waiting for Miss Dempster, he makes friends with a sixteen year old girl named Suzie. She is obviously pregnant and cries at the thought of having to give up her baby. Steve asks about her parents and is told they don't know where she is because she didn't want to disgrace them.
Steve learns that the boy came to the orphanage a few years ago asking about his birth mother. He decides to find her himself and goes to the nearby college alumni office. The address they have on file is an old one and Steve knows she is no longer there. He recalls that she had a sister and obtains her address, which is out of state. Before leaving on the next plane, he telephones his New York lawyer and orders him to fly out.
He finds the sister and she recognizes his name. She tells him that his former girlfriend married, had several children and is now dead. Not even her husband knew she had given birth to a child out of wedlock. She begs Steve to leave well enough alone.
Steve's lawyer is shocked to hear the story and warns him that if it ever goes public, he will be disgraced. But Steve doesn't care. He wants his lawyer to work with the local attorney and find a loophole by which he can learn his son's identity.
Meanwhile, Steve gets better acquainted with Miss Dempster and learns she was born at the orphanage, which explains her fierce dedication to her job. They discuss Suzie and what will happen to her and her baby. There is a court hearing concerning Suzie the next day and Steve decides to drop in. He learns that everything Suzie told him was a lie. Her parents are dead and her only living relative is an uncle who doesn't want her. The baby's father refused to marry her because he didn't believe the child was his. Steve sees a parallel between them, as he had said the same thing to his girlfriend twenty years earlier. Suzie tells the judge she wants to give her baby up for adoption. He asks if she is sure she knows what she is doing, for that will mean she will never see the child again. She breaks down and cries, but does not waver in her decision.
Miss Dempster explains to Steve that the rules are made to protect the child and adoptive parents. If they made an exception for him, they would have to do so for everyone. She even resists Steve's bribe to build a new dormitory for the orphanage if she will bend the rules. Then a phone call changes everything. Steve's lawyer has found a loophole and there is a court hearing scheduled. Miss Dempster turns ice cold and orders Steve to leave her house.
At the hearing, Miss Dempster is nearly found in contempt for failing to bring the paperwork concerning the boy's adoption. She is ordered to produce the documents that afternoon. But when court readjourns, she is absent. Her lawyer explains that one of the children at the orphanage was seriously injured and had to go to the hospital. Miss Dempster will be in court as soon as possible.
The loophole Steve's lawyer has found is that his client was never notified of the adoption, which is against the rules. The document Miss Dempster produces, which had only just arrived, is the record of an interview between Steve and the welfare board, twenty years earlier. He was quoted as saying he didn't want the child because he didn't believe he was the father. Based on that interview, the judge rules in Miss Dempster's favor.
Steve is heartbroken but it's his own fault. He should have told his lawyer about the interview instead of conveniently forgetting about it. There is nothing more he can do.
Miss Dempster is waiting for him outside the courthouse. Suzie was hit by a car while crossing the street. She is in serious condition. They hurry to the hospital where the doctor tells them that Suzie might survive if she agrees to have surgery. But she is afraid that the baby will be harmed. Steve convinces her to have the operation and promises to wait in the lobby until it is over.
Miss Dempster sees Steve in a new light, taking pity on him at last. After the surgery and the birth of a healthy son to Suzie, he leaves the hospital and stops at a bowling alley. He doesn't notice that he is followed by a young man. They strike up a conversation and the man reveals that he is Mark, Steve's son. Miss Dempster called and told him Steve was in town. They bowl for a few minutes and then go to a coffeeshop. Conversation is stilted and awkward. Mark had always been curious about his birth father. He wants nothing from Steve, who apologizes for running out on him. Mark works as a printer for his adoptive father and next year, when he is twenty-one, he will get a share of the business. Just then a juke box starts playing and it is too loud for conversation. They walk outside and shake hands, knowing that they will likely not meet again.
Back at the orphanage, Miss Dempster tells Steve that Mark liked him. He had already called and told her how their meeting went. Then Steve asks about Suzie and is told that adoptive parents have already been found for her baby. There seems to be something Miss Dempster wants to say but she only looks at Steve in a meaningful way.
Two weeks later, Steve is packing to leave. He telephones his secretary and orders her to buy a Christmas tree and decorations for his home. Then he takes a cab to the orphanage, ordering the driver to wait.
Miss Dempster is smiling and very excited, stating that this is the greatest event the orphanage has ever had. The judge from the court hearing is there, along with Suzie's doctor. Then Suzie come downstairs with the baby. Steve has adopted them both and Suzie won't have to give up her baby. He learns that the baby's name is Steve. The new family gets into the cab and drives away.