CARMEL — A newborn surrendered in a baby box at a Carmel fire station has been adopted, making her the first child to be adopted through a new amendment to Indiana’s Safe Haven Law.
The amendment, which went into effect on July 1, allows surrendered babies to be placed directly with a licensed child placing agency instead of the Department of Child Services (DCS).
“The law prevents a child from languishing in the foster care system, instead placing them with an adoptive family within hours,” Meg Sterchi, executive director of Adoptions of Indiana, said. “Adoptions are finalized in three months, instead of 18 months to three years.”
There are 110 Safe Haven baby boxes in Indiana that allow mothers in crisis to surrender their newborn safely, securely and anonymously if they are unable to care for it. The boxes are installed in exterior walls of fire stations and hospitals.
Four babies have been surrendered at Carmel Fire Station #345, the most of any baby box in the country, according to the organization. The adopted baby girl was surrendered on Aug. 7.
“We make a point of staying with the babies in the hospital until their family can be with them,” Carmel Fire Chief David Haboush said. “Firefighters exist to take care of human life, so this falls right into our wheelhouse. That is exactly what this law allows us to do.”
Hamilton Superior Court 5 Judge David Najjar granted the baby’s adoption on National Adoption Day, Friday, Nov. 17.
“I could not be more thrilled,” Najjar said at the hearing. “A lot of adoption cases will come through this courthouse today, but none like this one. I am honored to be part of this, and I am honored to say I am granting this adoption.”
Safe Haven Hotline
The boxes make the news, but the Safe Haven Hotline is where most of these journeys begin.
SHBB staffs a 24-hour Safe Haven hotline (1-866-99BABY1), so parents can talk to trained professionals and get more information about their options for surrendering or how to get assistance to help them be able to care for their child.
The SHBB hotline is staffed by licensed counselors.
The Safe Haven Law allows mothers to safely surrender their infants, anonymously, up to 30 days old
Under the Safe Haven Law, parents have up to 30 days to change their mind once they surrender an infant.
For more information on Safe Haven Baby Boxes, click here.