Two babies surrendered at Indiana fire stations via Safe Haven Baby Boxes

NOW: Two babies surrendered at Indiana fire stations via Safe Haven Baby Boxes

ELKHART, Ind.-- So far in 2023, two babies have been surrendered at Indiana fire stations via Safe Haven Baby Boxes. Both surrenders were within 48 hours of each other. One of the babies was dropped off right here in Michiana.

The first surrender of an Indiana infant happened at the Cleveland Township fire station, sometime last week.

To preserve the confidentiality of the surrendering parent, officials won't release the baby's sex, identity or the time of surrender.

The baby was safely, and legally, left in a baby box the department has had installed since April 2021.

"This parent safely, legally, anonymously and lovingly surrendered their newborn," said Joe Kelsey, chief operating officer of Safe Haven Baby Boxes.

The infant was legally surrendered under Indiana's Safe Haven Law, which gives new parents 30 days from birth to give up a child.

"You can surrender to any hospital, fire station, police station, safe haven baby box, without fear of prosecution, as long as the baby is unharmed," Kelsey said.

A silent alarm is activated when the box is opened and the baby is placed inside. Once closed, the door locks, and there is a 60-second delay for the parent to leave before crews are notified to retrieve the baby.

"The crew immediately initiated transport to the hospital within minutes of receiving that alarm," said Elkhart Fire Chief Mike Travis, "provided supportive care on the way to the hospital and transferred care upon arrival."

To honor the work of the late 2nd District Congresswoman Jackie Walorski, her own mother, Martha, joined Monday's press conference at the Cleveland Township fire station.

"Jackie was all about life," Martha said. "When the baby box idea first came out, she was all about it."

She said there should be no shame for the overwhelmed parents who made such a difficult decision.

"Every time there was [a surrender], it just gave us another chance to talk about the brave parents, the brave mother, that would surrender her baby, knowing that it was going to be taken care of. As a mother, a grandmother, and a great-grandmother, I want to say to the mother: thank you so much," Martha said. "Thank you for giving this baby the chance to be loved, to be taken care of, and to grow up and be a good citizen."

The next step for the baby is finding its forever home with a family that can love and support the child.

"So I would like to address the parents right now, thank you," Kelsey said. "Thank you for keeping your child safe… your baby is safe, healthy and beautiful."

Since Safe Haven Baby Boxes launched in November 2017, there have been 26 surrenders, 21 of those right here in Indiana.

So far this year, there have been four surrenders. One of those was at the Wayne Township station in Indianapolis.

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