ZIONSVILLE — Safe Haven Baby Boxes blessed their 100th box on Friday, a milestone founder Monica Kelsey says she never thought they would reach.
The newest box is located at Zionsville Fire Station 92 at 998 U.S. 421.
“I guess I never really thought we would be here,” Kelsey said. “It’s exciting because the more boxes that go in, the more babies that will be saved. But we’re also seeing in the states that we’re launching in a decrease in infant abandonment.”
Since the first box was installed in Indiana at the Woodburn Fire Department in 2016, the people behind Safe Haven Baby Boxes have helped parents safely surrender at least 130 infants.
According to Kelsey, 15 infants have been placed inside their boxes in multiple states and SHBB counselors have assisted at least 115 parents hand off their baby — safely — at a Safe Haven location like a hospital or fire station.
Tessa and Keegan Higgs attended Friday's dedication along with their daughter Nola. Nola's birth mother called the Safe Haven Baby Box hotline to surrender her child in 2019.
"About that time, there were only a few boxes. We're from southern Indiana and didn't know about the Safe Haven Baby Box organization, at that time. It's just amazing that in three years just how much the organization has accomplished," Tessa said.
Nola was adopted about two years ago by the Higgs family.
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.
Friday’s box is the 80th SHBB box blessed in the state of Indiana.
@safehavenbabyboxes How does a baby box work? #Saving #AbandonedBabies #SafeHaven #NoMoreBabiesInDumpsters #SafeHavenBabyBoxes #SavingLives ♬ original sound - Monica Kelsey
Saving Babies Across the Country
Every state in the country has a Safe Haven Law on the books, but that doesn't always keep infants from becoming victims, which is something Safe Haven Baby Boxes is working to fix.
Over the past few years – even during a pandemic – the number of boxes SHBB has installed across the country has grown significantly. They’ve also expanded from Indiana into five other states – with plans to install new boxes in two additional states sometime this year.
“We had six babies in our boxes in 2020, during the pandemic,” Kelsey said “So I do think that there was an uptick, you know, in surrenders because of the pandemic. However, I'm thankful that these mothers chose the safe option that was available for them.”
“Indiana hasn't had a dead baby in Indiana since we launched baby boxes,” Kelsey said. “It's like, the more states we go into, the more women are utilizing this resource that we've made available for them. So, it's actually pretty encouraging to see the stats that are coming out”
Kelsey was an abandoned baby herself and has now dedicated her life to helping mothers in crisis and giving them a safe, anonymous way to surrender their babies without fear of persecution or judgement.
Kelsey’s book, “Blessed to Have Been Abandoned”, was released on Amazon last year. It tells the story of her abandonment and how she was blessed with an amazing forever family because of it.
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.
Kelsey says their hotline is staffed by licensed counselors and they receive – on average – about two calls each day from parents who are wanting information.
“We call the hotline the workhouse of our organization, because everything revolves around those women that call us,” Kelsey said. “Whether it be an adoption plan, a parenting plan or walking into a facility and handing their child to a person or — as a last resort — utilizing one of our baby boxes.”
While the Safe Haven Law allows mothers to safely surrender their infants, anonymously, up to 30 days old, Kelsey says their goal is let parents know they have options.
“We had four babies in boxes 2021 … Which is encouraging because we don't want babies in boxes,” Kelsey said. “We want moms to get the help that they need. The boxes are last resort and obviously for moms last year that was a last resort for them.”
Under the Safe Haven Law, parents have up to 30 days to change their mind once they surrender an infant.
Safe Haven Baby Boxes currently has boxes in five different states: Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Arizona.
You can also visit the Safe Haven Baby Box website for more information including locations or view the full map below.
Watch Friday's blessing below: