Two Safe Haven baby boxes have been installed at Indiana fire departments to provide mothers in crisis with a safe place to surrender their babies. The first box was installed at a fire department in Woodburn and the second in Michigan City.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia have passed safe haven legislation, but Indiana is the first state to have baby boxes.
Monica Kelsey, a volunteer firefighter, is the founder of Safe Haven Baby Boxes and has a special connection with the cause.
“I was abandoned as an infant back in 1973, so I’ve always been very close to the safe haven law,” Kelsey said.
The boxes are padded on the inside and climate controlled to keep the baby warm and allow for air circulation. When someone opens the box, a call is sent to 911 alerting fire and medical personnel. In addition, the box has motion sensors which detect the baby’s movement and trigger a second call to 911. The box locks automatically once the door has been shut and a baby left inside.
The Safe Haven hotline has received over 95 calls from people across the country inquiring about the boxes and information on adoption referral services. One of the calls resulted in a “safe surrender” when volunteers helped a woman find a nearby hospital to safely surrender her baby.
Safe Haven Baby Boxes plans to grow the service and will install boxes at two more locations. The local Knights of Columbus has also pledged to build 100 boxes throughout the state.