Indiana has created two Safe Haven Baby Boxes to provide women the option to surrender their children in times of crisis.
The Safe Haven law is a law that allows women to give up their babies without having any questions asked. Mothers can go in and give their unharmed newborn to any hospital, fire station, or police station without being questioned by the first responders. As long as the baby is a newborn and has not been abused than the mother will not be charged for giving up her newborn. As part of the Safe Haven law, Indiana has decided to install Safe Haven baby boxes where mothers can place their babies safely if they feel like they are unable to take care of their baby.
The boxes are at two fire stations and it is part of an initiative to provide a safe place for mothers to surrender their babies in time of crisis. Monica Kelsey, a volunteer firefighter and founder of the nonprofit that created the boxes, said that she was abandoned as a child. She told NBC News “I was abandoned as an infant back in 1973, so I’ve always been very close to the safe haven law."
The first box was installed last week on the exterior wall of the fire department in Woodburn, near Fort Wayne, where Kelsey volunteers. When a person opens the baby box, a call is immediately placed to 911, and fire and medical personnel are dispatched to the scene. The baby will not be left alone very long and it also gives a chance for the mother to leave the scene if she does not want to be questioned by the firefighters. The box is padded and climate controlled to keep the baby warm while still allowing air circulation, Kelsey said, and automatically locks once a person leaves the child and shuts the door. The boxes also are equipped with motion sensors to detect movement and another call to 911 will be made if nobody has come to rescue the infant.
Once the firefighters arrive they will look the child over and then transport the baby to the nearest hospital for medical treatment. The baby will then be placed in custody of Indiana’s Child Protective Services. A second box was made available one week ago at the fire department in Michigan City, a community on the Lake Michigan coast. Nobody has used the boxes yet but Kelsey said that she has received a lot of calls asking about the boxes through their free hotline. Kelsey said her team received 95 calls on Wednesday, one of which resulted in a "safe surrender" in another state. The mother was instructed where to go to surrender her child. "Of the 95 yesterday, we had one save," she said. "That’s a win."