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Safe Haven Baby Box unveiled at Linton Fire Department

The Safe Haven Baby Box at the Linton Fire Department.

(Devan Ridgway/WTIU)

Greene County now has a place for mothers to legally surrender newborn babies they are unable or unwilling to care for.

A Safe Haven Baby Box was unveiled Tuesday at the Linton Fire Department. It’s the 92nd baby box to be installed at hospitals and fire stations around the state.

“I don’t think that this is a matter of if this box gets used, it’s a matter of when it will be used,” said Monica Kelsey, the CEO and founder of Safe Haven Baby Boxes, the non-profit organization behind the baby boxes.

Baby boxes are climate-controlled and are accessed through a door on the outside wall of the station. Once a baby is placed inside and the door closed, alarms alert authorities that a baby has been placed inside.

Under Indiana’s Safe Haven law, mothers can anonymously place healthy babies 30 days old and younger in one of the baby boxes.

Linton Fire Chief Brad Sparks jumped at the chance to place a baby box at the station when it first came up about six months ago.

“It's extremely important,” Sparks said. “You've got to think about some of these young girls that don't have or don't know that there's an opportunity like this.”

The boxes cost around $15,000 each installed. Sparks and Kelsey each thanked Stockton Township Trustee Donna Smith with helping provide the money for the project.

“She said, ‘You make it happen, I’ll pay for it,’ and we did just that,” Kelsey said.  

Kelsey says two infants have been surrendered in Greene County this year.

Kelsey’s story led her to founding Safe Haven Baby Boxes six years ago. Her birth mother was raped as a 17-year-old and two hours after giving birth to Kelsey, abandoned her.

“I am so thankful to be standing on the front line of this movement ensuring that women have a safe option to place their child in their moment of crisis that my birth mother did not have,” Kelsey said.

The unveiling of the box in Linton comes on the seventh anniversary of the birthday of Baby Amelia, who was found abandoned at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis. She is the last deceased infant to be found abandoned in the state.

Kelsey said six babies were placed in baby boxes in 2020, and four more this year.

“We used to find two or three dead babies in the state every year,” Kelsey said. “Now, we’re not finding those dead babies, we’re finding babies in boxes.

“So, we’ve literally turned the tide on this abandonment issue that was covering the state.”

The majority of baby boxes are found in Indiana, but there are boxes located in Ohio, Kentucky, Arkansas, Arizona and Florida.

The baby box in Bloomington is temporarily closed as it was located in the downtown fire station that was flooded and closed.

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