UPDATE 4/20/2022 at 10:15 am: A third baby has been surrendered this April in Indiana at a Safe Haven Baby Box. A baby girl was surrendered at the Carmel Fire Department Station 45 in Indiana. Source: 14 News

We have seen the storyline in popular shows like “This Is Us” and “Little Fires Everywhere.”  Desperate and scared parents leave their baby at a fire station in hopes of keeping him safe and giving him a better life than they can provide. But what happens when this occurs in the real world without the glitz and glamour of television magic?

Two Babies were Surrendered at Indiana Safe Haven Baby Boxes Recently

Over the past few weeks, two babies were surrendered at Safe Haven Baby Boxes in Indiana. In Hammond, a baby girl was left at the Franciscan Health Hospital’s baby box less than 30 days after its installation. Three years after the dedication of their baby box, Carmel Fire Department Station #45 received a baby boy warmly bundled in towels. Within minutes of their surrender, both babies were checked out by medical professionals and found to be completely healthy.

Carmel Firefighter, Victor Andres tells WTHR, "We were sitting in the station like every other day when the baby box alarm went off. We went back there to see what was going on and lo and behold there was a baby sitting inside the baby box wrapped in towels.”

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What are Safe Haven Baby Boxes?

Safe Haven Baby Boxes, Inc., was founded by Monica Kelsey in 2016. Kelsey, who was also abandoned as an infant, made it her personal goal to educate communities about safe haven laws and protect infants who have been abandoned. The baby boxes work to keep babies safe as well as protect the mother’s identity by removing a face-to-face interaction during the surrender.

The Indiana Safe Haven Law, which was updated last year, states:

“This is a way for a parent to give up a newborn infant legally and confidentially. This offers a mother or father an alternative to abandoning their baby. Abandonment is illegal and as puts the infant in terrible danger, maybe even leading to death. Abandonment has serious consequences both for the baby and for the parents. This law allows the parent leave the baby with an emergency medical professional, no questions asked. They do not have to leave their name but may be asked for basic medical information on the infant. At this point the parent gives up custody of the child.”

The law was modified in order to protect the confidentiality of mothers, allowing them to remain anonymous when dropping their babies off at one of the box locations.

In addition to the installation of boxes, Safe Haven also runs a 24-hour hotline to help mothers in crisis. The history shared on their website says the organization has referred over 500 women to crisis pregnancy centers, assisted in 7 adoption referrals, and has had over 100 legal Safe Haven surrenders.

“Sixteen babies have been surrendered inside Safe Haven Baby Boxes since the first was installed in 2016. Three other babies have been surrendered at fire stations with Safe Haven Baby Boxes. Nationwide, over 100 surrenders have resulted from calls to the Safe Haven Baby Boxes national hotline.”

Since the first box in Indiana was installed in 2016, there hasn’t been a single death of an abandoned infant.

Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash
Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash
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So, How does the Safe Haven Baby Box Work Exactly?

The baby boxes are two-way, temperature-controlled boxes that are built into the side of a hospital or fire station. When a baby is placed into the box, an alarm is immediately triggered to notify staff present in the building. A call to 911 is also placed.

The alarms on the boxes are regularly tested and drills are conducted to ensure the procedure is executed flawlessly.

The infant is then transported to the local emergency room to be evaluated. After the baby is checked out, the Department of Child Services takes custody of the child until it can be placed in foster care or adopted.

Although critics may frown on sharing these stories, Carmel Fire Chief believes it is a cause for celebration that the system worked.

“A big smile on my face to hear that the system worked flawlessly,” said Chief David Haboush

Kelsey believes it is important for parents to know they have options.

"If that is your only choice, please choose the baby box that will give you the anonymity that you need and that will keep you legal, keep your child safe and do a loving thing for your child," she said.

https://shbb.org/
https://shbb.org/
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Where are the Southern Indiana Safe Haven Baby Boxes?

Box #40: Vincennes Fire Station #1- 928 Vigo Street​,  Vincennes, IN 47591​

Box #46: Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center Ferdinand Ambulance Station 202 E. 3rd Street, Ferdinand, IN 47532

Box #57: Harrison Township Fire Department; Station 1-120 Hilltop Dr. Corydon, IN 47112

Box #59: Boonville Fire Department-410 S 4th St, Boonville, IN 47601

Box #77: Jeffersonville Fire Station #3 -1603 Truckers Blvd., Jeffersonville, IN 47130

Box #85: Terre Haute Fire Department Station #5: 28 South 9th Street, Terre Haute, IN 47807

Box #86: Evansville Fire Station #3: 310 N. Fourth Ave., Evansville, IN 47710

Box #87: Evansville Fire Station #16: 2801 Washington Avenue, Evansville, IN. 47710

Box #88: Princeton Fire Territory- 500 North Embree St. Princeton, IN 47670

Box #90: Paoli Volunteer Fire Department- 1124 W Main Street Paoli, IN 47454

Box #92: Linton Fire Department-230 N.W. A St Linton, IN 47441

Box #104: Hanover Twp Volunteer FD- 419 W Lagrange Rd Hanover, IN 47243

For assistance, parents in distress can reach Safe Haven’s hotline at any time at 1-866-992-2291.

Indiana List

Here's a complete list of Indiana Baby Boxes. You can find a national list on the website.

Indiana Locations

 

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