Two Newborns Safely Surrendered in Less Than a Week Under Indiana’s Safe Haven Law

In less than a week, two Indiana mothers called the national Safe Haven Baby Box hotline to arrange for the safe surrender of their newborns.

According to reports, last Thursday, a woman called the hotline to ask where she could bring the child, and was able to meet someone at the Kosciusko County Fire Department to surrender her baby without question. On Tuesday, another woman called the number and an arrangement was made to meet at the Columbia City Fire Department.

Both babies received medical care at a local hospital and were placed in the custody of the Indiana Department of Child Services.

Columbia City Mayor Ryan Daniel released a statement applauding all those who helped ensure that both mother and baby received the best reception.

“I want to thank our dispatchers and firefighters who were there for the woman and her newborn,” he said. “They showed tremendous care and consideration for both individuals. I also want to thank the Safe Haven Baby Boxes Hotline for working with all parties to ensure the safe passage of this child.”

Indiana’s safe haven law allows for mothers to surrender their newborns at local hospitals, fire departments and police stations without prosecution.

“A parent or other custodial adult can abandon an infant under the age of 45 days with an emergency medical services provider (hospitals, EMS, fire departments, and law enforcement agencies). Secrecy of the identity of the mother is assured, and she will not be prosecuted for abandonment or neglect if she acts within 45 days of the birth, and the baby is not harmed (no evidence of child abuse or neglect),” the statute states.

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The law is meant to help prevent women from killing their newborn children or abandoning them for dead.

Monica Kelsey, who runs the Safe Haven Baby Boxes effort, has been working to have baby boxes installed at local fire departments to give mothers an additional option to surrender the child anonymously—without having to be seen.

As previously reported, last year, the Coolspring Township Volunteer Fire Department made headlines after a newborn was safely surrendered in its installed baby box.

The “box” is really an incubator-like enclosure in that it is padded and heated, but also features a device that notifies workers whenever a baby is placed inside. Emergency personnel are to remove the baby from the box within five minutes of the notification, and the child is then cared for and placed into the hands of Child Protective Services.

Another baby had been received at the same fire station in 2016, which was nicknamed “Baby Hope” by responding firefighters. The infant was placed with a family, who decided to move forward and adopt the child.

While the Kosciusko County and Columbia City locations don’t have baby boxes installed at their location, Kelsey said that she is in talks with officials in Kosciusko County, and is thankful that her hotline was at least able to help the two women find a safe place to go.

The cause is near and dear to Kelsey as she herself was abandoned as a baby, and now serves as a firefighter. Her mother, who was 17 and had been raped, had initially sought an abortion, but could not bring herself to end her child’s life. She instead decided to leave the baby at a local hospital, and Kelsey was soon adopted into a loving family.

“I just praise God that my birth mother was strong enough to walk out of the abortion clinic,” Kelsey told reporters in 2013.

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