MOORESVILLE — A healthy baby girl was surrendered in a Safe Haven Baby Box in northern Indiana early Tuesday morning.
The infant, placed in the box at the Schererville Fire Station on Plum Creek Drive is the second child to be placed in a baby box in the past week in Indiana. She is also the sixth baby in one of the organization's box in Indiana this year.
At a press conference held at the Schererville Fire Station Wednesday, Safe Haven Baby Boxes founder Monica Kelsey said the little girl was under 30 days old, which is the cut off for legal surrender in Indiana.
"The program is working. The Safe Haven law is working," Kelsey said.
Schererville Fire Chief Robert Pattinson said the baby was in good health and appeared to be well taken care of. The infant's mother also left a letter with her child detailing the care they received and other important details her future family may need to know.
"The crew also found a letter from the mother detailing all of the vital information pertaining to the baby, specifically the infant's time and date of birth. The thoughtfulness and care in which the important details were supplied will further aide in providing a safe and caring environment for the infant," Pattinson said. "The Schereville Fire Departmnet would like to applaud the mother's tremendous act of courage and strength in entrusting our department with the health and well being of her child."
The Schererville Fire Station baby box was the 66th baby box in the nation.
"This box has been here for 426 days... 426 days ago we stood here and blessed this box... knowing that one day it might be used, and it was," Kelsey said.
"I often get criticized for coming up here and talking about a safe surrender," Kelsey said. "But the good outweighs the bad. One of the good things about coming and doing a press conference after a baby was surrendered in one of our boxes is I get to speak directly to the mother - if she's listening."
"I want to thank you for bringing your child here, I want to thank you for keeping your child safe," Kelsey said. "I honor you today. I think how amazing is it for you to say 'I know what's best for my child, and it might not be me.' and that is heroic... it's probably the most selfless act a mother can do for her child."
"If you need medical care, if you need counseling ... this is free," Kelsey said. "I would love nothing more than to walk along side you on this journey."
"Right now I want to talk directly to the parents who surrendered these two children," Kelsey continued. "Thank You. Thank you for keeping your child safe. Thank you for making a loving choice for your child and thank you for doing what you thought was best for your child and yourself. There's a whole community out here that loves you, there's a whole community out here who supports you. There's a whole community out here who is praying for you."
"The Mooresville Fire Department is here to protect property and save lives. With this box, this gives our department another tool just to do that," Mooresville Fire Chief Matt Dalton said during Friday's press conference.
Kelsey, who was abandoned as an infant, has dedicated her life to helping mothers in crisis and giving them a safe, anonymous way to surrender their babies without fear of persecution or judgment.
Since the first Safe Haven Baby box was installed in Indiana, 20 infants have been placed safely in the boxes. Nationwide, the organization has assisted with 117 safe surrenders after calls to the Safe Haven Baby Box Hotline.
There are currently 111 Safe Haven Baby Boxes available in Indiana, Ohio, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, and New Mexico. Click HERE for a list of all available baby box locations across the country.
You can read the exact wording of the state's Safe Haven Law straight from the Indiana Department of Child Services website below.
"The Indiana Safe Haven Law enables a person to give up an unwanted infant anonymously without fear of arrest or prosecution.
As long as there are no signs of intentional abuse on the baby, no information is required of the person leaving the baby. Any knowledge of the date of birth, race, parent medical history, child's health or anything that would be useful to the child's caregiver would be greatly appreciated.
Once the baby is examined and given medical treatment (if needed), the Indana Department of Child Services will take the baby into custody through Child Protective Services where it will be placed with a caregiver."
What is a Safe Haven Baby Box?
Baby boxes are safe incubators that have alarm systems, so 911 is notified as soon as a baby is placed inside. The baby boxes also have heating and cooling features.
Once the infant is collected by first responders, they're taken to the nearest medical facility to be evaluated.
Infants surrendered under Indiana's Safe Haven Law are placed in the custody of the state's Department of Child Services after they are released from the hospital. The process then begins to find an adoptive family within 30-45 days.
@safehavenbabyboxes How does a baby box work? #Saving #AbandonedBabies #SafeHaven #NoMoreBabiesInDumpsters #SafeHavenBabyBoxes #SavingLives ♬ original sound - Monica Kelsey
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.
See the map below for locations of all available Safe Haven Baby Boxes in Indiana and across the country.