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New baby box allows for safer surrender of newborns

Swaddled baby with mother's hand touching face

KieferPix | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 08/16/23

All 50 states allow parents of newborns who do not feel fit to raise a child to surrender them to firehouses, which keep "baby boxes" to preserve anonymity.

Safe Haven laws, also called “baby Moses laws” in reference to the Bible’s book of Exodus, have been around in all 50 states since 2008. These laws make it legal for parents of small infants to surrender their children to the state if the parents do not feel that they are fit to raise a child. In cases such as these, the babies are surrendered to firehouses, hospitals, or police stations, where they become wards of the state. 

Offering the benefit of anonymity for the parents, Safe Haven laws allow parents to surrender unharmed newborns to the aforementioned locations without repercussions. Most states do not count surrendering one’s infant as child abandonment and the majority of states allow the parents to remain nameless in court. In Indiana, a parent may surrender their child within 30 days of birth without legal consequences.

In most cases, anonymity is preserved by allowing the parent to leave the baby in a “baby hatch” or a “baby box,” where workers can retrieve the infants.

One such firehouse in Carmel, Indiana, has recently updated its Safe Haven services to great success. A report from Live Action explains that a new baby box has made the process safer and easier than ever. Called the Safe Haven Baby Box, these boxes are temperature controlled and are equipped with an alarm that instantly notifies firefighters, cops, or hospital staff that a baby has been left. This allows first responders to rescue the child within minutes. 

In Carmel, four babies have been surrendered in the new Safe Haven Baby Box in the last 16 months. The Safe Haven Baby Box organization hailed the professionalism and quick action on the part of Carmel Fire Station #345 in recovering the babes and giving them aid. They stated that “the program has worked exactly as it was meant to work.”

In a press conference, shared on Facebook, Carmel Fire Chief David Haboush praised the parent who surrendered the latest child. He said: 

“The Carmel Fire Department and our Firefighters are honored to be entrusted with this fourth baby in our Safe Haven Baby Box. We applaud this mother for having the courage and love to surrender her baby into a safe and secure environment.”

Monica Kelsey, founder of the Safe Haven Baby Box, was inspired to be a part of the infant abandonment prevention industry due to her own experience as a newborn surrendered to the state. She praised the efficacy of the Safe Haven Baby Box, especially as it has served the community in Carmel. She commented: 

“It is such a joy to have a station that is so enthusiastic about our mission and program. They have warmly and lovingly received three babies previously at this location,” Kelsey said. “We know this baby was loved immeasurably by the birth mother who placed her baby, knowing that the infant would be cared for quickly. While we know this isn’t ideal circumstances, we know that this infant will soon be adopted by a family who has anxiously awaited this opportunity.”

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