As a mom, nothing is more important to me than keeping our children safe. Saving the lives of babies, and providing options for parents who cannot care for their newborns is an important cause and I feel compelled to help spread the word. Since the summer of 2018, Central Indiana has installed its first two Safe Haven Baby Boxes, providing a safe way for parents to anonymously surrender their babies.
What is it?
The Safe Haven Baby Box is an extension of the Safe Haven law, which allows parents to give up a newborn without the risk of arrest or prosecution. The box is a climate-controlled baby safe that sends an alarm to first responders within seconds of an infant being left inside. The parent is able to remain unseen, while the baby is kept in a place that is safety-tested and not out in the elements.
There are now six Safe Haven Baby Boxes in Indiana, with the most recent addition in Carmel at Douglas Callahan Fire Department Station 45. Last July, the first Central Indiana baby box was installed at the Decatur Township Fire Department.
The organization also provides a 24-hour hotline that has taken over 3,000 calls from mothers across the country. The majority of mothers are calling about the Safe Haven Baby Boxes, but when they call they are also provided with a variety of resources on topics like adoption and housing so that they can make the best choice for themselves and their infant.
The organization’s history
The organization that provides the boxes was founded by Monica Kelsey, who was abandoned as a baby. Her website says, “Monica has made it her personal mission to educate others on the Safe Haven Law and to do whatever it takes to save the lives of innocent babies from being abandoned. The baby boxes takes the face-to-face-interaction out of the surrender and protects the mother from being seen.”
The organization’s logo includes a footprint belonging to an infant by the name of Amelia Grace Hope. She was found dead in Eagle Creek Woods in Indianapolis in December 2014. She was full term, with the placenta still attached. The baby was given a name and her actual footprint serves as Safe Haven Baby Boxes’ logo.
Does it work?
Since 1999, 3,500 newborns have been safely surrendered through Safe Haven laws nationwide. Unfortunately, more than 1,400 have been found abandoned in that same time period, with only about a third of those found alive.
However, in Indiana where the Safe Haven Baby Boxes exist, no infants have been found or abandoned since the organization began installing the baby safes in 2016.
While the safe haven law exists in every state, statistics show that for some, looking another person in the face can be too much to bear as a person hands over their infant. The organization tracked 18 cases in 2015 where a baby was left on the doorstep of a Safe Haven location. Two of the babies died by the time they were found, and it seems likely that if a baby box was available, there may have been a different outcome.
What you can do
Contact your local representatives. Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are currently the only states to have enacted specific legislation to make these boxes legal and available. All 50 states offer Safe Haven locations that include hospitals, fire stations, and police stations but the remaining states do not allow for the same level of anonymity. If you live in a state that has not yet made these boxes legal, you can let your representatives know that you’d like to see the laws change.
Make a Donation. Safe Haven Baby Boxes cost $10,000 for a lifetime lease. There are additional costs each year for maintenance and keeping up with the latest technologies. Donations can be made here.
Spread the word. If you or someone you know needs help, you can call the 24-hour hotline 1-866-99BABY1.